On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to overturn a ban on adult-oriented adult clothing online, in an effort to preserve children’s online privacy.
The vote was unanimous.
The decision comes on the heels of a recent Supreme Court ruling that invalidated laws against adult clothing on adult websites and online gaming sites.
It is a victory for children’s rights advocates, who say that children need to be able to access online content, regardless of age.
But it also comes as a result of the FCC’s decision, which is a significant setback for the burgeoning internet age and for the childrens clothing industry.
At the time, the commission said it was concerned about how adult content on sites like 4chan and Reddit could be accessed by children.
The Internet Policy Task Force, a coalition of consumer advocates and internet companies, called on the FCC to allow adult content to be accessible, but the agency’s chair, Ajit Pai, said at the time that it could be “harmful to the health and welfare of children.”
A coalition of child advocacy groups also supported the ban, arguing that it was important for children to be “encouraged to play with and explore new things online.”
In December 2014, the FCC voted to allow children to view adult-rated sites such as AdultFriendFinder and AdultFriendZoo.
That same month, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a lawsuit challenging the FCC decision, claiming that the FCC had exceeded its authority by regulating adult-related sites as “child-directed sites.”
That same year, the Justice Department filed a petition with the FCC arguing that the agency had overstepped its authority and had overreached in regulating online content.
In response to the petition, the agency reversed course and announced a rule that allowed sites that serve child-directed content to receive “notice” before they violate children’s privacy.
But the rule was later revised, and the commission decided not to enforce it, effectively allowing children to access adult-directed adult content.
On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from the petitioners.
“Today’s decision sends a clear signal that the internet will not be allowed to become the playground it has been for decades,” said Michaela L. Vos, the senior staff attorney at the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), which brought the case to the Supreme Courts.
“In a nation that already sees a clear increase in the number of children being exposed to child-pornography and online sexual predators, this is a blow to children and their privacy.”
The FCC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
As of Tuesday, the American Academy of Pediatrics had urged the FCC not to allow the ban to go into effect, saying that “the decision has already had a profound and long-lasting effect on the development of childrens online behavior.”
The agency said in its announcement that it would work with the American Psychological Association to “implement the rule to ensure it does not have a chilling effect on speech and expression.”
“The rule is a clear and present danger to children, and will only harm them in the long run,” the AMA said.
The American Library Association also supported ending the ban.
“The American Library Associations’ position is clear: We are deeply concerned about the effects of the [adult-directed] rule, and we urge the FCC and the courts to uphold the rule as written,” a statement from the association read.