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US organisatons chalenge the CDAII



>Date: Thu, 22 Oct 1998 17:52:37 GMT0BST
>From: "Yaman Akdeniz" <lawya@lucs-01.novell.leeds.ac.uk>
>Subject: US organisatons chalenge the CDAII
>To: gilc-plan@privacy.org
>Reply-To: gilc-plan@gilc.org
>See the complaint through EPIC's pages at:
>And this is the press release through ACLU
>ACLU v. Reno, Round 2
>Broad Coalition Files Challenge To New Federal Net Censorship Law
>FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday, October 22, 1998
>PHILADELPHIA -- Civil liberties groups today filed a court challenge to
>a federal Internet censorship bill signed by President Clinton despite
>serious constitutional concerns raised by his own Justice Department.
>At a news conference in downtown Philadelphia, the American Civil
>Liberties Union, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the
>Electronic Frontier Foundation said the Justice Department was correct
>in warning that the law unconstitutionally censors valuable online
>In papers filed this morning in federal District Court in Philadelphia,
>the groups are seeking an injunction against the new law, which is
>scheduled to go into effect 30 days from the date it was signed.
>Demonstrating the range of speech affected, the list of plaintiffs
>includes the Internet Content Coalition, a member group including Time
>Inc., Warner Bros., C/NET and The New York Times Online; OBGYN.Net, a
>women's health website; Philadelphia Gay News; Salon Magazine; and the
>ACLU on behalf of its members including poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and
>ACLU President Nadine Strossen. (The complete plaintiff list can be
>found below).
>In February 1996, during "round one" of this litigation, the ACLU, EFF
>and EPIC filed a challenge to the ill-fated Communications Decency Act.
>A three-judge panel in the same federal district court struck down the
>law in June, a ruling that was upheld by a unanimous Supreme Court one
>year later in Reno v. ACLU.
>This second round challenges the new so-called "Child Online Protection
>Act" makes it a federal crime to "knowingly" communicate "for
>commercial purposes" material considered "harmful to minors." Penalties
>include fines of up to $50,000 for each day of violation, and up to
>six months in prison if convicted of a crime. The government also has
>the option to bring a civil suit against individuals under a lower
>standard of proof, with the same financial penalty of up to $50,000 per
>Despite lawmakers' claims that the new bill is "narrowly tailored" to
>apply only to minors, ACLU Staff Attorney Ann Beeson said that the
>constitutional flaws in this law are identical to the flaws that led
>the Supreme Court to strike down the CDA.
>"Whether you call it the 'Communications Decency Act' or the 'Congress
>Doesn't Understand the Internet Act,' it is still unconstitutional and
>it still reduces the Internet to what is fit for a six-year-old," said
>Beeson, a member of the original ACLU v. Reno legal team.
>Although proponents claim that the law applies only to commercial
>websites, nonetheless, the groups said in legal papers, the law "bans a
>wide range of protected expression that is provided for free on the Web
>by organizations and entities who also happen to be communicating on
>the Web 'for commercial purposes.'"
>The 17 plaintiffs represented in ACLU v. Reno II are:
>The American Civil Liberties Union (on behalf of all its members
>including Nadine Strossen, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Patricia Nell Warren
>and David Bunnell)
>A Different Light Bookstore
>The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
>The Blackstripe
>Electronic Frontier Foundation (on behalf of all its members including
>Bill Boushka, Jon Noring, Open Enterprises Cooperative and Rufus
>Electronic Privacy Information Center
>Free Speech Media, LLC
>Internet Content Coalition (whose members include CBS New Media, Time
>Inc., The New York Times Electronic Media Company, C/Net, Warner Bros.
>Online, MSNBC, Playboy Enterprises, Sony Online and ZDNet)
>Philadelphia Gay News
>PlanetOut Corporation
>Powell's Bookstore
>Salon Magazine
>In a seven-page analysis of the bill sent to Congress on October 5, the
>Justice Department said that the bill had "serious constitutional
>problems" and would likely draw resources away from more important law
>enforcement efforts such as tracking down hard-core child pornographers
>and child predators.
>Also, the Justice Department noted, the new law is ineffective because
>minors would still be able to access news groups or Internet relay chat
>channels, as well as any website generated from outside of the United
>"It is our fervent hope," said Barry Steinhardt, President of the
>Electronic Frontier Foundation, "that Attorney General Reno will
>concede that the new law is unconstitutional so we can avoid prolonged
>"The First Amendment still stands," he added. "A law that the Justice
>Department found unconstitutional last week did not suddenly become
>constitutional this week."                                         
>David Sobel, EPIC's Legal Counsel, said that making children the 
>excuse for ill-conceived censorship schemes is poor public policy.
>"Congress has demonstrated that, when it comes to the Internet, it's
>prepared to score easy political points at the expense of
>constitutional rights."
>"I'm confident that the courts will again faithfully apply the
>Constitution to this new medium," he added. "Let's find ways to protect
>both kids and the First Amendment."
>The three groups continue to jointly sponsor the Blue Ribbon Campaign
>for Online Freedom of Expression -- first launched in 1996 to mobilize
>the Internet community against the CDA -- to provide Netizens a
>platform for voicing their concerns over continuing governmental
>attempts to censor the Internet. Visitors to the Campaign site can fax
>Attorney General Janet Reno a "don't enforce the new law" message and
>join the campaign by exhibiting the Blue Ribbon logo on their own Web
>sites. More information is available at http://www.eff.org/br.
>Attorneys in the case are Ann Beeson, Chris Hansen and J.C. Salyer of
>the ACLU, Shari Steele of EFF and David Sobel of EPIC. The law firm of
>Latham and Watkins is assisting the ACLU in the case.
>The American Civil Liberties Union is a nationwide, non-partisan
>organization headquartered in New York City, dedicated to defending and
>preserving the Bill of Rights for all individuals through litigation,
>legislation and public education.
>Founded in 1990 as a nonprofit, public interest organization,
>Electronic Frontier Foundation is based in San Francisco, California
>and maintains an extensive archive of information on free speech,
>privacy, and encryption policy on its website.
>Electronic Privacy Information Center is a non-profit research group
>that works to defend free speech and privacy rights on the Internet. 
>Yaman Akdeniz <lawya@leeds.ac.uk>
>Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) at: http://www.cyber-rights.org
>Read the new CR&CL (UK) Report, Who Watches the Watchmen, Part:II
>Accountability & Effective Self-Regulation in the Information Age,
>August 1998 at http://www.cyber-rights.org/watchmen-ii.htm