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New Communications Decency Act Passes US Congress




>Date: Thu, 15 Oct 1998 05:44:01 -0400
>From: Barry Steinhardt <Barrys@eff.org>
>Subject: New Communications Decency Act Passes US Congress
>To: gilc-plan@gilc.org
>Reply-To: gilc-plan@gilc.org
>Rights Groups Prepare Legal Challenge as
>President Prepares to Sign Internet "Indecency" Bill 
>October 15, 1998
>WASHINGTON--With a second Congressional attempt to censor the Internet
>all but certain, the American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Privacy
>Information Center and Electronic Frontier Foundation today vowed yet
>another legal challenge if the measure includes criminal penalties and
>fines for communicating protected speech.
>During last-minute budget negotiations, the Clinton Administration
>reportedly objected to provisions of the bill pushed by Rep. Michael
>Oxley, R-OH, citing a Justice Department analysis that it was probably
>unconstitutional and would likely draw resources away from more
>important law enforcement efforts.  But negotiators apparently failed to
>strike the Oxley language from the $500 billion Omnibus Appropriations
>measure due to be voted on in both the House and Senate and signed by
>the President tomorrow.
>The ACLU, with EPIC and EFF acting as co-plaintiffs and co-counsel, led
>the successful challenge to the Communications Decency Act, which the
>Supreme Court struck down last year.  The groups said today that they
>anticipate filing a legal challenge as early as next week, on behalf of
>a diverse range of online speakers representing news organizations, gay
>and lesbian groups, artists, musicians, booksellers and any websites
>that distributed the Starr report.
>"It's deja vu all over again," said Ann Beeson, Staff Attorney for the
>ACLU and a member of the Reno v. ACLU legal team that led the fight
>against a 1996 federal Internet law.   "Just like the CDA, this bill
>will once again criminalize socially valuable adult speech and reduce
>the Internet to what is considered suitable for a six-year-old."
>"Following a landmark Supreme Court ruling and constitutional objections
>from the Justice Department," Beeson added, "Congress can plead
>politics, but it can't plead ignorance."
>Barry Steinhardt, President of the Electronic Frontier Foundation,
>agreed.   "It is the height of irony that the same Congress that
>plastered the salacious Starr Report all over the Internet now passes a
>plainly unconstitutional law to suppress a vaguely defined category of
>‘harmful' material.  You would think Congress would have learned that
>‘harmfulness' is in the eye of the beholder."
>David Sobel, EPIC's General Counsel, said, "This law violates both the
>free speech rights and the privacy of Internet users.  It requires, in
>effect, that any adult wishing to receive constitutionally protected
>material must register with a website before receiving information."
>"The Supreme Court has, on several occasions, said that such procedures
>violate the First Amendment," Sobel added.  "We are confident that the
>courts will continue to protect the right of all Americans to receive
>information without sacrificing their privacy."
>Barry Steinhardt	        	East Coast Phone  212 549 2508
>President				East Coast Fax   212 549 2656
>Electronic Frontier Foundation  	West Coast Phone 415 436 9333 ext 102
>1550 Bryant St. Suite 725       	West Coast Fax   415 436 9993	
>San Francisco, CA 94103		<http://www.eff.org>