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Re: Effects of S.314 (Communications Decency Act)

On Thu, 9 Feb 1995, Robert Rothenburg Walking-Owl wrote:

> The line between indecency and obscenity is vague. Legal defense fees are
> not... not are opportunistic prosecutors-- which is a real problem. Look at
> what happened to Jello Biafra and the Dead Kennedys if you'd like an
> example. I've heard that there were recently busts in Florida of some BBS
> systems that carried the alt.sex* groups while universities in the area which
> also carried them weren't touched.

This is part of the danger. It to omse degree doesn't matter how 
restictive or "enforceable" the law might be, or even whether or not 
prosecutins will stick. Arrests and prosecutions will take a financial 
toll on those targetted, and will create a chillinf effect in the online 
community, meaning sysops and BBS operators will start policing 
themselves too severely in an effort to avoid politcial or legal scrutiny.

> The "safe harbor" is 10pm, but many radio stations (like WUSB here in Stony
> Brook, where I do some radio programming) use midnight as a safe time and
> give periodic warnings during shows in any indecent material is aired.

Unfortunately, this only works for media which operate within the old 
broadcast paradigm, while the online world operates within the network 
paradigm. There are no hours in which it is safe to broadcast because 
there is no "broadcast" in the tradition sense.

> Problems with these vague and-or unenforcable "decency" laws is that they
> allow for selective enforcement which is often motivated more by politics
> and personal greed than by their alleged concerns for decency.

And is also, as stated above, often motivated out of a desire to force 
the public to overly-police themselves to avoid prosecution.

- dog