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Three federal judges in Philadelphia have struck a blow against prudery and thrown out a federal law forcing public libraries to filter access to Internet pornography or forfeit federal funds, the Associated Press reports.

The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) didn't pass Constitutional muster because it would deny access to protected speech, the judges decided. The CIPA had been scheduled to take effect on 1 July.

The court expressed concern that library patrons might be embarrassed or lose their right to remain anonymous because they would have to ask permission to have certain sites unblocked, the wire service says.

"Any public library that adheres to CIPA's conditions will necessarily restrict patrons access to a substantial amount of protected speech in violation of the First Amendment," a practice which "serves no legitimate government interest," the court said.

We'll post an update as soon as we've had a chance to peruse the nearly 200-page decision issued this morning. ®

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