The Communications Decency Act and You
Senator Leahy has introduced a measure to combat the Decency Act's
implications on the Internet. Read the message
that he sent back to everyone who wrote him about the measure, and you can
find out more under the "Measures to Combat the Act" section
The Communications Decency Act is not limited to just the Internet...a new
twist some members of the Christain Coalition want to use the law for is to
impose censorship on cable TV. Not
just the pay-per-view smut channels will be affected, though. Normal pay
TV channels like HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime can also be censored through
the bill. Some of our best entertainment is quite at risk...
A federal judge as of 2/15/96 has put a restraining order on the
government to prohobit the enforcement of the Communications Decency Act.
The Justice Department, which had intended to begin enforcing the law in
full force on Thursday 2/15/96, is now merely gathering "information" to
be used against sites once the restraining order is lifted. Read the AP article about the restraining order.
The text is taken from the CNN
Measures to Combat the Act
Senator Patrick Leahy has introduced a measure in the Senate to revoke the
application of the Communications Decency Act to the Internet. Through
you can see the text of his bill along with his statement.
Send him mail today
indicating your support for his measure and the maintainence of free
speech on the Internet.
Mailing Lists and Statistics
Mailing lists for House members and Senators who voted for and who voted
against the Communications Decency Act are now available. They are in
text format, and are designed for use with Eudora, although they may work
on UNIX systems as well. Instructions for using them are the same as for
our GSS mailing list, which can be accessed from the main homepage.
Only 12.5 percent of House members have e-mail addresses.
Only 20 percent of Senators have e-mail addresses.
Only 2 House members have a hompage
Only 2 Senators have homepages
What is wrong with this picture?
What is the Communications Decency Act?
The Communications Decency Act, a part of the telecommunications reform
bill that was signed into law on Feb 8, 1996, contains portions of the Exon
bill that effectively censor the Internet. Dispersion of "indecent
materials to minors" is now illegal. Effectively, the open and free
exchange of information on the Internet is now prohibited. Besides the
restriction on the use of the word "abortion" on the Internet (see
Dave's response below), now any type of material that is considered
indecent is also controlled. Because of the looseness of the language,
things that may be called indecent include The Catcher in the Rye,
the paintings of the Sistene Chapel, information on testicular and breast
cancer, as well as information on contraceptives and abortion. Such sites
must now be password protected, or they are illegal. Currently, these
types of information are not considered indecent under the current Supreme
Court definition of indecency, but since there is no definition of
indecency in the law itself, anyone can change the scope of the law by
merely changing the definition of indecency. While not illegal in
themselves, the transmission of the material on those sites to minors
carries a harsh penalty: up to 2 years in prision and a quarter million
The fact that the law does not specify the types of materials banned allows
for an unusual precedent. The banning of transmission of indecent speech
has been upheld in cases involving television and radio. The argument of
the ACLU in challenging the law, however, is that the Internet is not a
public and free medium like television and radio as people must pay for
their access if they want it as they don't have to do for radio and
television, must actively search for "smut", and that the Internet
represents a private medium such as printed media or a telephone conversation
You can find out more from The Electronic
Frontier Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting free
speech on the Internet.
Why is GSS 94 Illegal?
This site is now illegal because of our Humor&Sex forum. The Humor
archive, dedicated to archiving some of the best in college e-mail chain
humor, contains some questionable material. Because of the loose
definition (mainly none) of "indecent" in the new law, if any minors
access the GSS site, I personally may face the fines and prison term mentioned above
as the material can be construed as to be "indecent".
How can I Protest?
If you have a homepage, make the background black and text white for 48
hours following the passage of the bill (today at noon). The ACLU has
launched a battle against the Communications Indecency Act in the courts
as it is a violation of the First Amendment. You yourself can send mail
to the President voicing your opinion, or visit the related sites that
can be found through Yahoo, which is
also participating in the protest, or most importantly, be sure to register
for the vote in 1996 and make your voice known.
Things that can be construed as Illegal on the GSS Site
Your Responses to the CIA
Post responses in the newsgroup. Special responses are posted here...