It's a great day for America's single-handed typists. A US federal court today ruled that a 1998 law designed to block children from viewing web pornography violates the US Constitution and its protection of freedom of speech.

It's probably a sensible ruling (I can't see how the law could have been enforced without violating civil liberties), but it's difficult to get too excited about anything that makes it easier to drown in sludge more corners of the web.

The Child Online Protection Act was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union. Judge Lowell Reed of the US District Court in Philadelphia said that commercial software filters and their ilk were a better, less restrictive way of stopping innocent eyes alighting on rude ladies. But he sympathised with the law's laudable aim.

When it comes to freedom of speech I subscribe to the Voltaire, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it", school of thought. But I'd find it hard to get up the energy to defend the right of pornographers to peddle their seedy wares. Surely there are better fights for the American Civil Liberties to pick?

The Act made it criminal to 'provide minors access to "harmful material" over the internet'. Those in breach of the law could be fined up to $50,000 and imprisoned for six months - but not any more.