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[FYI] (Fwd) Fwd: Cyber Victory! 3rd Circuit Strikes Down "CDA 2"
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- Date: Fri, 23 Jun 2000 09:45:44 +0200
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Date sent: Thu, 22 Jun 2000 19:33:26 -0400
From: David Sobel <email@example.com>
Subject: Fwd: Cyber Victory! 3rd Circuit Strikes Down "CDA 2"
Send reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
>Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2000 18:44:15 -0400
>From: Emily Whitfield <EWhitfield@aclu.org>
>Subject: Cyber Victory! 3rd Circuit Strikes Down "CDA 2"
>X-Comment: Internet Free Expression Alliance Planning List
>ACLU v. Reno II Victory!
>Appeals Court Rejects Congress' Second Attempt at Cyber-Censorship
>FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
>Thursday, June 22, 2000
>Emily Whitfield, ACLU (212) 549-2566 or 2666/Cell phone (917)
>686-4542 David Sobel, EPIC, (202) 483-1140
>PHILADELPHIA--In a unanimous decision issued late today, a federal
>appeals court here struck down as unconstitutional Congress's second
>attempt to criminalize speech on the Internet.
>The American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the 1998 "Child
>Online Protection Act" on behalf of 17 groups and individuals,
>welcomed the decision and said the court's strong language should
>persuade the Justice Department and lawmakers to end wrongheaded
>attempts to regulate the unique medium of the Internet.
>"We are deeply gratified that the court recognized the danger this
>law represented to our clients, who faced jail time and heavy fines
>for speech that is unquestionably protected by the Constitution,"
>said Ann Beeson, one of the ACLU attorneys who argued the case before
>a three-judge panel last November.
>"Clearly, the court is not satisfied with Congress's efforts in this
>area,"Beeson added. "We now call on Congress and the Clinton
>Administration to close the book on this early chapter of Internet
>history and embrace free speech online as we have embraced it in
>every other significant communications medium."
>The so-called "Child Online Protection Act," also known as "COPA,"
>made it a federal crime to use the World Wide Web to communicate "for
>commercial purposes" material considered "harmful to minors," with
>penalties of up to $150,000 for each day of violation and up to six
>months in prison.
>The speech at issue today, Beeson noted, included sexual advice
>columns, discussion boards on gynecology, and websites for a
>bookstore, an art gallery, and the Philadelphia Gay News, among
>In its legal challenge to the Act, the ACLU said constitutional flaws
>in this law were identical to the flaws that led the Supreme Court to
>strike down the "Communications Decency Act," Congress's earlier
>attempt at Internet censorship, in a landmark 1997 ruling.
>In their 34-page decision, the judges today upheld a lower court
>finding that the 1998 law "imposes a burden on speech that is
>protected for adults."
>However, while the lower court based its finding on a variety of
>First Amendment flaws in the law, the ACLU noted, the appeals court
>today focused chiefly on the fact that it is impossible to establish
>one ecommunity standard' by which Internet speech could be governed.
>"Because of the peculiar geography-free nature of cyberspace," the
>appeals court wrote, "a ecommunity standards' test would essentially
>require every Web communication to abide by the most restrictive
>The overbreadth of the 1998 law "so concerns us," the appeals court
>said, "that we are persuaded that this aspect of COPA, without
>reference to its other provisions, must lead inexorably to a holding
>of a likelihood of unconstitutionality of the entire COPA statute."
>Commenting on the particular focus of the appeals court's ruling,
>ACLU Senior Staff Attorney Chris Hansen, noted, "The district court
>found the statute unconstitutional because it was impossible to
>verify age. The court of appeals finds it unconstitutional because
>it is impossible to verify geography."
>The government now has three options, Hansen said: it can admit
>defeat and let today's ruling stand; it can appeal the decision to
>the Supreme Court, which is not obligated to review it; or it can go
>back to the District Court and ask for a full trial.
>ACLU challenges to state "harmful-to-minors" laws were successful in
>New Mexico and New York. Another case from Michigan was successful
>and is now on appeal.
>The appeals court's decision today is online at
>The case is ACLU v. Reno II, No. 99-1324. The three-judge panel of
>the Third Circuit Court of Appeals was comprised of Judge Theodore
>Alexander McKee, Judge Leonard I. Garth, and Judge Richard Lowell
>The 17 plaintiffs represented in ACLU v. Reno II are: American Civil
>Liberties Union (on behalf of all its members including Nadine
>Strossen, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Patricia Nell Warren, Mitchell
>Tepper and David Bunnell); A Different Light Bookstore; American
>Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression; ArtNet; The Blackstripe;
>Condomania; Electronic Frontier Foundation (on behalf of all its
>members including Bill Boushka, Jon Noring, Open Enterprises
>Cooperative and Rufus Griscom); Electronic Privacy Information
>Center; Free Speech Media, LLC; Internet Content Coalition;
>OBGYN.NET; Philadelphia Gay News; PlanetOut Corporation; Powell's
>Bookstore; RIOTGRRL; Salon Magazine; and Weststock.com. (Links to
>these websites can be found at
>The ACLU's brief in the case is online at
>ACLU attorneys in the case are Ann Beeson and Christopher Hansen of
>the national office and Stefan Presser, Legal Director of the ACLU of
>Pennsylvania. Catherine Palmer, Christopher R. Harris, Michele M.
>Pyle, Douglas A. Griffin and Kate Bolger are volunteer attorneys from
>the law firm Latham & Watkins in New York City; David Sobel of
>Electronic Privacy Information Center and Shari Steele of Electronic
>Frontier Foundation are co-counsel.
. David L. Sobel, General Counsel * +1 202 483 1140
(tel) Electronic Privacy Information Center * +1 202 483 1248
(fax) 1718 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Suite 200 * email@example.com
Washington, DC 20009 USA * http://www.epic.org .
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