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FWD:Religious Right Threatens to Shut Down Net: Call NOW
>Return-Path: <[email protected]>
>Date: Mon, 6 Nov 1995 13:43:13 -0500
>From: [email protected]
>To: [email protected]
>Subject: Religious Right Threatens to Shut Down Net: Call NOW
>Here are the advocacy instructions for individuals opposed to the Federal
>Online Indecency Legislation that we promised last week.
> CAMPAIGN TO STOP THE EXON/COATS COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT
> (SEE THE LIST OF CAMPAIGN COALITION MEMBERS AT THE END)
> Update: -Latest News:
> The Christian Coalition is pushing Congress to censor
> the net more heavily than even Sen. J.J. Exon ever imagined.
> There is the very real possibility that they may succeed.
> You should be very worried. We are.
> -What You Can Do Now:
> Follow the directions below and call House Speaker
> Gingrich and Senate Leader Dole. Implore them
> to allow parents to make choices for their children, instead
> of government censors.
> Volunteer to join the fight by helping organize in your
> home town.
> CAMPAIGN TO STOP THE UNCONSTITUTIONAL COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT
> Nov 2, 1995
> PLEASE WIDELY REDISTRIBUTE THIS DOCUMENT WITH THIS BANNER INTACT
> REDISTRIBUTE ONLY UNTIL December 1, 1995
> REPRODUCE THIS ALERT ONLY IN RELEVANT FORUMS
> The Latest News
> What You Can Do Now
> The letter from Ed Meese and the Christian Right
> Chronology of the CDA
> For More Information
> List Of Participating Organizations
>THE LATEST NEWS
>Since the very first day that Senator J.J. Exon (D-NE) proposed censorship
>legislation for the Internet, the Christian Right has pushed for the most
>restrictive regulations they could think of.
>The Religious Right (which does not necessarily speak for all religious
>people concerned with this issue) recently tipped their hand in a letter
>to Sen. Larry Pressler (R-SD) and Rep. Thomas Bliley (R-VA) requesting
>a new and more restrictive net censorship proposal.
>There are essentially three new dangerous elements of their campaign
>to shut down cyberspace:
>INTERNET PROVIDERS, ONLINE SERVICES, AND LIBRARIES CRIMINALLY LIABLE FOR
> EXPRESSION ONLINE
>The Religious Right has proposed to hold anyone who provides access to the
>Internet or other interactive media, including online services providers,
>ISP's, BBS's, Libraries, and Schools, criminally liable for all speech
>carried on the network.
>In order to avoid liability under this provision, service providers would be
>forced to monitor user's electronic communications to be assured that
>no "indecent" material is transmitted across their networks.
>This proposal is MORE RESTRICTIVE than the Exon Communications Decency Act,
>or any other net censorship legislation currently in Congress.
>In their letter to Congress, the Religious Right says:
> [Providers] would simply be required to avoid KNOWING violations of
> the law. [emphasis added]
>However, the "knowing" standard is vague enough that the mere knowledge
>that such material exists could be sufficient to trigger criminal liability.
>A single complaint or even a news report could force a service provider to
>take down a web page, remove posts to chat rooms or other discussion
>forums, or shut down listservs in order to avoid going to jail and facing
>A STANDARD FOR INDECENCY
>The proposals pushed by the Christian Coalition relies on the
>unconstitutional "indecency standard". Like the Exon Communications
>Decency Act, the Christian Coalition seeks to regulate all indecent
>Indecency is a broad category that includes everything from George Carlin's
>"seven dirty words" to such classic novels and "The Catcher in the Rye" and
>"Lady Chatterly's Lover".
>The Supreme Court has ruled that restrictions on indecent speech are
>Constitutional only if they rely on the "least restrictive means". Broad
>indecency restrictions on interactive media do not satisfy the "least
>restrictive means" test, because interactive media allows users and
>parents tremendous control over the information they receive.
>Any legislation which attempts to apply an indecency restriction to the
>Internet is unconstitutional on its face.
>The Christian Coalition's proposal that relies on an indecency
>restriction contemplates dumbing down every conversation, web page,
>newsgroup, and mailing list on the Internet to the level of what is
>not offensive to children.
>What kind of discussions between adults are possible in an arena
>where everything has been reduced to the level of the Lion King?
>UNPRECEDENTED CONTROL OVER ONLINE SPEECH FOR THE FCC
>The Christian Coalition would give the FCC broad jurisdiction over
>cyberspace. It would allow the FCC jurisdiction over your online
>speech, and over the design Internet software, such as web browsers and
>filtering programs that parents can use to control their children's
>access to the Internet.
>The Internet has developed from a government project to a market-driven
>economic boom for thousands of businesses. Giving the FCC authority over
>this medium would significantly hinder the growth of this new industry.
>WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW
>1. The proposals from the Religious Right will literally destroy online
> speech as we know it. The odds of stopping this are not certain.
> There is a very real chance that this legislation will pass, and
> we will experience a period of uncertainty and chilling of speech
> while an appropriate test case attempts to reach the Supreme Court
> (should it even get there!)
> The Religious Right has a strong grass-roots network. We need to
> counter their energy and ensure cyberspace is not lost due to them.
> IMMEDIATELY CALL House Speaker Gingrich (R-GA) and Senate Leader
> Dole (R-KS) and urge them to oppose the Christian Coalition's
> Name, Address, and Party Phone Fax
> ======================== ============== ==============
> R GA Gingrich, Newt 1-202-225-4501 1-202-225-4656
> R KS Dole, Robert 1-202-224-6521 1-202-224-8952
> If you're at a loss for words, try one of the following:
> Please oppose the recent proposal from the Religious Right to
> censor the Internet. The only effective way to address children's
> access to the Internet is through parental control tools outlined
> by the Cox/White/Wyden approach.
> As a religious person and a parent, I oppose the Religious Right's
> attempts to censor the Internet. I am the best person to monitor
> my child's access to the Internet using parental control tools
> as outlined in the Cox/White/Wyden approach.
>2. Join the online fight by becoming a volunteer for your district!
> Check to see if you're legislator is in the list below. If they are
> not, consult the free ZIPPER service that matches Zip Codes to
> Congressional districts with about 85% accuracy at:
> The conference committee legislators are:
> House: Barr (R-GA), Barton (R-TX), Berman (R-CA), Bliley (R-VA),
> Boucher (D-VA), Brown (D-OH), Bryant (D-TX), Buyer (R-IN),
> Conyers (D-MI), Dingell (D-MI), Eshoo (D-CA), Fields (R-TX),
> Flanagan (R-IL), Frisa (R-NY), Gallegly (R-CA), Goodlatte (R-VA),
> Gordon (D-TN), Hastert (R-IL), Hoke (R-OH), Hyde (R-IL),
> Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Klug (R-WI), Lincoln (D-AR), Markey (D-MA),
> Moorhead (R-CA), Oxley (R-OH), Paxon (R-NY), Rush (D-IL),
> Schaefer (R-CO), Schroeder (D-CO), Scott (D-VA), Stearns (R-FL),
> White (R-WA)
> Senate: Burns (R-MT), Exon (D-NE), Ford (D-KY), Gorton (R-WA),
> Hollings (D-SC), Inouye (D-HI), Lott (R-MS), McCain (R-AZ),
> Pressler (R-SD), Rockefeller (D-WV), Stevens (R-AK)
> If your legislator is on the conference committee, you have a chance
> to influence their vote on this issue with your power as a constituent.
> Volunteer to help educate your legislator by sending mail to
> [email protected] A coalition volunteer will be in touch with you.
> You can starting working to help spread the word in your district by
> sending this letter to five friends. Ask them to call Dole and Gingrich
> as well.
>3. The People for the American Way (PFAW) and the American Civil Liberties
> Union are organizing a letter from ORGANIZATIONS to the Conference
> Committee to oppose the censorship provisions.
> If you are a representative of an organization that would like to
> signon to this letter, you should contact [email protected] IMMEDIATELY.
>4. We can't suggest relaxing at this point. The stakes are too high, and
> the risk is too great. Everything now hangs in the balance.
>THE LETTER FROM ED MEESE AND THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT
>October 16, 1995
>The Honorable Thomas J. Bliley, Jr. Chairman
>Committee on Commerce
>United States House of Representatives
>Washington, DC 20515
>The Honorable Larry Pressler, Chairman
>Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
>United States Senate
>Washington, DC 20510
>Re: Computer Pornography Provisions in Telecommunications Bill
>Dear Mr. Chairmen:
>We are writing to urge the conference committee seeking to reconcile the
>telecommunications bills passed by the House and Senate include in the
>final bill the strongest possible criminal law provisions to address the
>growing and immediate problem of computer pornography without any
>exemptions, defenses, or political favors of any kind accorded to those
>who knowingly participate in the distribution of obscenity to anyone or
>indecency to children. While there is no perfect solution to the problem
>of computer pornography, Congress could not hope to solve this problem by
>holding liable only some who are responsible for the problem.
>The recent Justice Department prosecution project targeting those who
>violated federal child pornography law using America On-Line is
>instructive in this regard. More than ninety individuals were targeted for
>prosecution although many others, perhaps as many as 3,000 according to
>one press report, were originally targeted by the Department of Justice as
>potential violators of child pornography laws. Apparently due to a
>shortage of investigative and prosecutorial resources, the project was
>limited. Since there are insufficient resources to investigate and
>prosecute but a fraction of those that are trafficking in child
>pornography by computer, then there will likely be even fewer resources
>available to investigate and prosecute those involved in obscenity and
>Thousands of individuals both in this country and abroad are regularly
>placing obscenity and indecency on the Internet. It is not possible to
>make anything more than a dent in the serious problem of computer
>pornography if Congress is willing to hold liable only those who place
>such material on the Internet while at the same time giving legal
>exemptions or defenses to service or access providers who profit from and
>are instrumental to the distribution of such material. The Justice
>Department normally targest the major offenders of laws. In obscenity
>cases prosecuted to date, it has targeted large companies which have been
>responsible for the nationwide distribution of obscenity and who have made
>large profits by violating federal laws. Prosecution of such companies has
>made a substantial impact in curbing the distribution of obscenity, with
>many such offenders going out of business altogether. So too will
>prosecution of access providers which _knowingly_ traffic in obscenity
>have a substantial impact, a far greater impact than just the prosecution
>of a person who places one or a few prohibited images on the Internet.
>Such a person could not traffic in pornography without the aid or
>facilitation of the service or access providers. Indeed, if Congress
>includes provisions protecting access or service providers in whatever
>bill is finally passed, it is likely that most in this country who are
>trafficking in indecency to children or obscenity would continue to do so
>since the threat of prosecution would be minuscule, given the numbers of
>those currently involved in this activity. It is also likely that those
>outside our country who are engaged in these activities would continue to
>do so since it would be nearly impossible to extradite them to the United
>States for prosecution. Thus, unless all who knowingly participate in such
>matters are subject to the law, the Internet will remain the same and
>Congress will have failed in its responsibilities to the children and
>families of America.
>Federal law has traditionally assigned equal liability both for those who
>commit a crime and those who aid and abet a crime. See Title 18 U.S.C.
>Code Section 2: "(a) whoever [sic] commits an offense against the United
>States or aids, abets, councils [sic], commands, induces, or procures its
>commission, is punishable as a principle [sic]." Service or access
>providers who knowingly participate in the distribution of indecency to
>children or in obscenity to anyone are aiders and abettors in the
>commission of those crimes and thus should have liability under any law
>Congress passes. Current federal law on child pornography provides no no
>exemption or defense for access providers. Thus, the child pornography law
>provides a strong deterrent against trafficking in child pornography for
>those who would otherwise knowingly participate in its distribution by
>computer whether pedophile or access provider.
>The changes in law which we support would not hold an access provider
>criminally liable for all illegal pornography on the Internet which their
>services may be used to obtain. Nor would it require that access providers
>check all communications to ensure that no violations of the law are
>occurring. They would simply be required to avoid knowing violations of
>the law. This is an obligation imposed on all citizens. Technology exists
>today for access providers, through a simple process, to target or flag
>and remove files containing objectionable material.
>We support the House-passed language insofar as it addresses obscenity by
>amendment Title 18, Sections 1462, 1465, and 1467 of the United States
>Code. The provision restricting transmission of indecency in the House-passed
>bill, an amendment to Section 1465, is inadequate, and we urge that it be
>Attached is the specific language we support which includes the House
>passed language on obscenity and includes revisions on both the House
>passed language on indecency, which would amend Title 18 and the
>Senate-passed language on indecency, which would amend Title 47. The
>combination of these provisions, we believe, would provide effective laws
>to curb obscenity and indecency on the Internet by establishing that all
>who knowingly participate in the distribution or facilitation of obscenity
>to anyone or indecency to children would be subject to the law.
>Thank you for your concern and attention to this matter.
>Edwin Meese III
>Donald E. Wildmon
>American Family Association
>Alan Sears, Former Executive Director
>Atty General's Commission on Pornography
>Concerned Women for America
>Reverend Louis P. Sheldon
>Traditional Values Coalition
>American Center for Law and Justice
>Free Congress Foundation
>Morality in Media
>National Family Legal Foundation
>Morality in Media
>Former United States Attorney, N.D., FL
>Former Chairman, Atty General's Advisory Committee
>Subcommittee on Child Exploitation and Obscenity
>Section 1465 of Title 18, United States Code, is amended to punish
>distribution by computer of indecent material to minors by adding at the
>end the following:
>Whoever knowingly communicates, transmits, or makes available for
>communication or transmission, in or effecting interstate or foreign
>commerce an indecent communication by computer to any person the
>communicator or transmitter believes has not attained the age of 18 years
>of age, knowing that such communication will be obtained by a person
>believed to be under 18 years of age, shall be fined under this title or
>imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
>TITLE IV -- OBSCENE, HARASSING, AND WRONGFUL UTILIZATION OF
>SEC. 401. SHORT TITLE
> This title may be cited as the "Communications Decency Act of
>Sec. 402. OBSCENE OR HARASSING USE OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS FACILITIES UNDER
>THE COMMUNICATIONS ACT OF 1934
>Section 223 (47 U.S.C. 223) is amended --
> (1) by striking subsection (a) and inserting in lieu of [sic]:
> ``(a) Whoever--
> ``(1) in the District of Columbia or in interstate or foreign
> ``(A) by means of telecommunications device knowingly--
> ``(i) makes, creates, or solicits, and
> ``(ii) initiates the transmission of,
> any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other
> communication which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or
> indecent, with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass
> another person;
> ``(B) makes a telephone call or utilizes a
> telecommunications device, whether or not conversation or
> communication ensues, without disclosing his identity and
> with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person
> at the called number or who receives the communication;
> ``(C) makes or causes the telephone of another repeatedly
> or continuously to ring, with intent to harass any person at
> the called number; or
> ``(D) makes repeated telephone calls or repeatedly
> initiates communication with a telecommunications device,
> during which conversation or communication ensues, solely to
> harass any person at the called number or who receives the
> ``(2) knowingly permits any telecommunications facility
> under his control to be used for any activity prohibited by
> paragraph (1) with the intent that it be used for
> such activity,
> shall be fined not more than $100,000 or imprisoned not more
> than two years, or both.''; and
> (2) by adding at the end the following new subsections:
> ``(d) Whoever--
> ``(1) knowingly within the United States or in foreign
> communications with the United States by means of
> telecommunications device makes or makes available any
> indecent communication in any form including any comment,
> request, suggestion, proposal, or image, to any person under
> 18 years of age regardless of whether the
> maker of such communication placed the call or initiated the
> communication; or
> ``(2) knowingly permits any telecommunications facility
> under such person's control to be used for an activity
> prohibited by paragraph (1) with the intent that it be
> used for such activity,
> shall be fined not more than $100,000 or imprisoned not more
> than two years or both.
> ``(e) Defenses to subsections (a) and (d), restrictions on
> access, judicial remedies respecting restrictions for
> persons providing information services and
> access to information services--
> "(1) It is a defense to prosecution that a person has complied
> with regulations designed to restrict access to indecent
> communications to those 18 years old or older as enacted by the
> Federal Communications Commission which shall prepare final
> regulations within 120 days of the passage of this bill. Until
> such regulations become effective, it is a defense to
> prosecution that the person has blocked or restricted access
> to indecent communications to any person under 18 years
> of age through the use of verified credit card, adult access
> code, or adult personal identification number (PIN).
> Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to treat
> enhanced information services as common carriage."
> "(2) No cause of action may be brought in any
> court or any administrative agency against any person on account
> of any activity which is not in violation of any law punishable
> by criminal or civil penalty, which activity the person has taken in
> good faith to implement a defense authorized under this section or
> otherwise to restrict or prevent the transmission of, or access to,
> a communication specified in this section.
> (f) Nothing in this subsection shall preclude any State or
> local government from enacting and enforcing laws and regulations
> which do not result in the imposition of inconsistent obligations on
> the provision of interstate services. Nothing in this subsection
> shall preclude any State or local government from governing conduct
> not covered by subsection (d)(2)."
> (g) Nothing in subsection (a), (d), or (e) or in the
> defenses to prosecution under (e) shall be construed
> to affect or limit the application or enforcement of any other
> Federal law.
> (h) The use of the term 'telecommunications device' in this
> section shall not impose new obligations on (one-way) broadcast
> radio or (one-way) broadcast television operators licensed by the
> Commission or (one-way) cable services registered with the
> Federal Communications Commission and covered by obscenity and
> indecency provisions elsewhere in this Act.
>Sec. 403. OBSCENE PROGRAMMING ON CABLE TELEVISION.
> Section 639 (47 U.S.C. 559) is amended by striking "10,000" and
>Sec. 404. BROADCASTING OBSCENE LANGUAGE ON THE RADIO.
> Section 1466 of Title 18, United States Code, is amended by
>striking out "$10,000" and inserting "$100,000".
>Sec. 405 SEPARABILITY
> "(a) If any provision of this Title, including amendments to this
>Title of [sic] the application thereof to any person or circumstance is
>held invalid, the remainder of this Title and the application of such
>provision to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected
>CHRONOLOGY OF THE COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT
>Sep 26, '95 Sen. Russ Feingold urges committee members to drop
> Managers Amendment and the CDA from the Telecommunications
> Deregulation bill
>Aug 4, '95 House passes HR1555 which goes into conference with S652.
>Aug 4, '95 House votes to attach Managers Amendment (which contains
> new criminal penalties for speech online) to
> Telecommunications Reform bill (HR1555).
>Aug 4, '95 House votes 421-4 to attach HR1978 to Telecommunications
> Reform bill (HR1555).
>Jun 30, '95 Cox and Wyden introduce the "Internet Freedom and Family
> Empowerment Act" (HR 1978) as an alternative to the CDA.
>Jun 21, '95 Several prominent House members publicly announce their
> opposition to the CDA, including Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA),
> Rep. Chris Cox (R-CA), and Rep. Ron Wyden (D-OR).
>Jun 14, '95 The Senate passes the CDA as attached to the Telecomm
> reform bill (S 652) by a vote of 84-16. The Leahy bill
> (S 714) is not passed.
>May 24, '95 The House Telecomm Reform bill (HR 1555) leaves committee
> in the House with the Leahy alternative attached to it,
> thanks to Rep. Ron Klink of (D-PA). The Communications
> Decency Act is not attached to it.
>Apr 7, '95 Sen. Leahy (D-VT) introduces S.714, an alternative to
> the Exon/Gorton bill, which commissions the Dept. of
> Justice to study the problem to see if additional legislation
> (such as the CDA) is necessary.
>Mar 23, '95 S314 amended and attached to the telecommunications reform
> bill by Sen. Gorton (R-WA). Language provides some provider
> protection, but continues to infringe upon email privacy
> and free speech.
>Feb 21, '95 HR1004 referred to the House Commerce and Judiciary
>Feb 21, '95 HR1004 introduced by Rep. Johnson (D-SD)
>Feb 1, '95 S314 referred to the Senate Commerce committee
>Feb 1, '95 S314 introduced by Sen. Exon (D-NE) and Gorton (R-WA).
>FOR MORE INFORMATION
> [email protected] (put "send alert" in the subject line for the latest
> alert, or "send cdafaq" for the CDA FAQ)
> [email protected] (General CDA information)
> [email protected] (Current status of the CDA)
>LIST OF PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATIONS
>In order to use the net more effectively, several organizations have
>joined forces on a single Congressional net campaign to stop the
>Communications Decency Act.
>American Civil Liberties Union * American Communication Association *
>American Council for the Arts * Arts & Technology Society * Association
>of Alternative Newsweeklies * biancaTroll productions * Boston
>Coalition for Freedom of Expression * Californians Against Censorship
>Together * Center For Democracy And Technology * Centre for Democratic
>Communications * Center for Public Representation * Citizen's Voice -
>New Zealand * Cloud 9 Internet *Computer Communicators Association *
>Computel Network Services * Computer Professionals for Social
>Responsibility * Cross Connection * Cyber-Rights Campaign * CyberQueer
>Lounge * Dutch Digital Citizens' Movement * ECHO Communications Group,
>Inc. * Electronic Frontier Canada * Electronic Frontier Foundation *
>Electronic Frontier Foundation - Austin * Electronic Frontiers
>Australia * Electronic Frontiers Houston * Electronic Frontiers New
>Hampshire * Electronic Privacy Information Center * Feminists For Free
>Expression * First Amendment Teach-In * Florida Coalition Against
>Censorship * FranceCom, Inc. Web Advertising Services * Friendly
>Anti-Censorship Taskforce for Students * Hands Off! The Net * Inland
>Book Company * Inner Circle Technologies, Inc. * Inst. for Global
>Communications * Internet On-Ramp, Inc. * Internet Users Consortium *
>Joint Artists' and Music Promotions Political Action Committee * The
>Libertarian Party * Marijuana Policy Project * Metropolitan Data
>Networks Ltd. * MindVox * MN Grassroots Party * National Bicycle
>Greenway * National Campaign for Freedom of Expression * National
>Coalition Against Censorship * National Gay and Lesbian Task Force *
>National Public Telecomputing Network * National Writers Union * Oregon
>Coast RISC * Panix Public Access Internet * People for the American Way
>* Republican Liberty Caucus * Rock Out Censorship * Society for
>Electronic Access * The Thing International BBS Network * The WELL *
>Voters Telecommunications Watch
>(Note: All 'Electronic Frontier' organizations are independent entities,
> not EFF chapters or divisions.)
> End Alert
Lynne L. Harrison, Esq.
Poughkeepsie, New York
"Say not, 'I have found the truth', but rather, 'I have found a truth.'"
- Kahlil Gibran from "The Prophet"