by Todd Wiese

In October of 1998 both Senate and House members approved legislation restricting material on the Internet that some communities may consider "harmful to minors". As part of the Internet Tax Freedom Act, Dan Coats' (R-IN) Internet censorship bill passed the Senate by a vote of 98 to 1. Another bill in the House introduced by Mike Oxley (R-OH) is meant to penalize "commercial" site owners who post material "harmful to minors" on their pages. Both of these measures, which use vague wording and ridiculous penalties, could inevitably become reconciled as one threatening menace to free speech on the Internet. "Congress can pass a hundred laws, but material will always be available on the Internet that some will find objectionable," said David Sobel, Electronic Privacy Information Center General Counsel. "It's time for Congress to stop grandstanding on this issue and commit some real resources to teaching our kids how to make responsible use of this powerful medium."

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, EPIC and others including Rock Out Censorship are urging everyone to take action now against the CDA II (the offspring of the Communications Decency Act - see our Incident Archives for more information here).

EFF President Barry Steinhardt declared, "Both versions of CDA II are Trojan horses. At first glance, they appear relatively benign in that they are supposedly limited to commercial pornographers who market their sites to minors, but when you look beneath that veneer, you quickly discover that they apply to any Web site that has a commercial component and material that some community could consider 'harmful to minors.'"

The original Communications Decency Act as part of the Telecommunications of 1996 was soundly defeated in the Supreme Court. However, narrow-minded lawmakers like Mike Oxley (R-OH) and Dan Coats's (R-IN) will never take losing gracefully. They will always try to circumvent the First Amendment and push their agenda through. Even in the face of the Constitution and the 1997 Supreme Court ruling the censors will not give up their attempt to stifle the Internet, the most powerful means of free communication in existence. What these folks don't understand is what obviously scares them. We cannot give up our attempt to stop them either. Contact your Congressperson today and tell them to vote down the Son of CDA. See our Activism Central Link for contacts here

Aside from our own updates at R.O.C., visit these sites also to stay up to date on the CDA II:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Electronic Privacy Information Center:

The American Civil Liberties Union:

Information on this Incident was provided by the ACLU:

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