THE FUTURE OF FREE SPEECH ON THE INTERNET IS AGAIN AT RISK:
HOUSE COMMERCE COMMITTEE TO VOTE ON CENSORSHIP BILL LATER THIS WEEK
Please distribute this alert until September 24, 1998
This alert is brought to you by the Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition
and the Center for Democracy and
Table of Contents
What's Happening Right Now
What You Can Do To Protect Free Speech On The Internet
Background On "Child Online Protection Act" (HR 3783)
About CIEC and the Center for Democracy and Technology
WHAT'S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW
A little more than a year after the Supreme Court struck down Congress'
last attempt to censor the Net, it's deja vu all over again -- a
Congressional committee is poised to vote later this week on a bill that
threatens to chill free speech on the Internet. Like the unconstitutional
Communications Decency Act, the Child Online Protection Act (HR 3783),
sponsored by Rep. Michael Oxley (R-OH,) is offered in the name of
protecting children from harmful content online.
The House Commerce Committee is due to vote on the bill this Thursday, Sept 24.
*Like the CDA, the "Child Online Protection Act" is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.*
The Supreme Court found the CDA unconstitutional because it failed to use
the "least restrictive" means to protect children. Although originally
narrower than the CDA, the Child Online Protection Act still relied on
criminal penalties and government prosecutors, rather than parents, to
protect children. Moreover, the bill was amended last week by the House
Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications to include a prior restraint on
speech -- the worst form of censorship.
*Like the CDA, the "Child Online Protection Act" is INEFFECTIVE.*
The Supreme Court found the CDA unconstitutional because it failed to
achieve its purpose -- it failed to effectively protect children online.
The Child Online Protection Act is likewise ineffective. In this global,
decentralized medium, pornography is widely available from overseas,
outside the jurisdiction of this proposed legislation.
*Like the CDA, the "Child Online Protection Act" is UNNECESSARY.*
While Congress has been debating whether censorship laws should be adopted,
companies and non-profit organizations have responded with wide-ranging
efforts to create child-friendly content collections, teach children about
appropriate behavior online, and develop voluntary user-controlled
filtering software that parents can use to protect their children from
CDA II legislation has already passed the Senate, so this may be our best
chance to keep Congress from making the same mistake twice -- it's up to
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PRESERVE FREE SPEECH ON THE INTERNET
1. Read the information on the Child Online Protection Act below.
2. Call members of the House Commerce Committee to let your opinion be heard!
HOW TO CALL A CONGRESSIONAL OFFICE
Congressional Staffer: Hello, Rep. _________'s office!
You: May I speak with the staffer who deals with Internet or
Congressional Staffer: One minute..
You: Hello! HR 3783, the Oxley Child Online Protection Act,is
about to be voted on in the Commerce Committee. I'm concerned about the
future of free speech on the Internet, and I would like to urge Rep.
__________ to oppose this bill.
Congressional Staffer: Thanks, goodbye!
You: Goodbye! <click>
Here are the members of the Commerce Committee. It's a big Committee - you
might want to call members from districts closest to your home:
Tom Bliley, VA, CHAIRMAN (202) 225-2815
W.J. "Billy" Tauzin, LA (202) 225-4031
Michael G. Oxley, OH (202) 225-2676
Michael Bilirakis, FL (202) 225-5755
Dan Schaefer, CO (202) 225-7882
Joe Barton, TX (202) 225-2002
J. Dennis Hastert, IL (202) 225-2976
Fred Upton, MI (202) 225-3761
Cliff Stearns, FL (202) 225-5744
Bill Paxon, NY (202) 225-5265
Paul E. Gillmor, OH, (202) 225-6405
James C. Greenwood, PA (202) 225-4276
Michael D. Crapo, ID (202) 225-5531
Christopher Cox, CA (202) 225-5611
Nathan Deal, GA (202) 225-5211
Steve Largent, OK (202) 225-2211
Richard Burr, NC (202) 225-2071
Brian P. Bilbray, CA (202) 225-2040
Ed Whitfield, KY (202) 225-3115
Greg Ganske, IA (202) 225-4426
Charlie Norwood, GA (202) 225-4101
Rick White, WA (202) 225-6311
Tom Coburn, OK (202) 225-2701
Rick Lazio, NY (202) 225-3335
Barbara Cubin, WY (202) 225-2311
James Rogan, CA (202) 225-4176
John Shimkus, IL (202) 225-5271
Heather Wilson, NM (202) 225-6316
John D. Dingell, MI (202) 225-4071
Henry A. Waxman, CA (202) 225-3976
Edward J. Markey, MA (202) 225-2836
Ralph M. Hall, TX (202) 225-6673
Rick Boucher, VA (202) 225-3861
Thomas J. Manton, NY (202) 225-2836
Edolphus Towns, NY (202) 225-5936
Frank Pallone, Jr., NJ (202) 225-4671
Sherrod Brown, OH (202) 225-3401
Bart Gordon, TN (202) 225-4231
Elizabeth Furse, OR (202) 225-0855
Peter Deutsch, FL (202) 225-7931
Bobby L. Rush, IL (202) 225-4372
Anna G. Eshoo, CA (202) 225-8104
Ron Klink, PA (202) 225-2565
Bart Stupak, MI (202) 225-4735
Eliot L. Engel, NY (202) 225-2464
Thomas C. Sawyer, OH (202) 225-5231
Albert R. Wynn, MD (202) 225-8699
Gene Green, TX (202) 225-1688
Karen McCarthy, MO (202) 225-5516
Ted Strickland, OH (202) 225-5705
Diana DeGette, CO (202) 225-4431
House Commerce Committee Main Line: (202) 225-2927
3. Forward this alert to your friends and collegues.
You've taken the first step to being a part of the powerful political force
of Americans concerned about the health and safety of the Internet, but
have your friends? Forward this alert to them until September 24.
4. Be proud of yourself and relax!
You've done more to protect the Internet in five minutes than many
people will do this year.
MAJOR FEATURES OF THE CHILD ONLINE PROTECTION ACT (HR 3783)
* CRIMINAL AND CIVIL PENALTIES
The bill makes it a crime for anyone, by means of the World Wide Web, to
make any communication for commercial purposes that is "harmful to minors,"
unless the person has restricted access by minors by requiring a credit
card number or other age verification procedure specified by the Federal
* PRIOR RESTRAINT -- THE WORST FORM OF CENSORSHIP
The latest version of the bill includes a section authorizing the Attorney
General to seek court injunctions against suspected violators. Injunctions
against speech are a form of prior restraint, constitutionally the worst
form of government censorship.
* NEW PRIVACY INTRUSIONS
By offering a defense to any Website that verifies the age of visitors, the
bill in effect requires a new type of privacy intrusion. The bill has
privacy protections intended to limit disclosure of such information, but
protections have a major loophole, allowing the disclosure of personal
information for "legitimate business activites related to" making such
For more information on HR 3783, and the latest text of the bill, go to
ASSAULTS ON FREE SPEECH HEADED FOR THE FLOOR
ABOUT CIEC AND THE CENTER FOR DEMOCRACY AND TECHNOLOGY
The Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition (CIEC) is a large and diverse
group of Internet users, businesses, non-profit groups, and civil liberties
advocates, who share the common goal of protecting the First Amendment and
the viability of the Internet as a means of free expression, education, and
commerce. CIEC members believe that parents, not the United States
Government, are the best and most appropriate judges of what material is
appropriate for themselves and their children.
Last year, you joined CIEC and were part of the lawsuit that went all the
way to the Supreme Court to overturn Congress' first attempt to censor the
Net. You haven't heard from us since our Supreme Court victory, but now
there is a new crisis requiring your involvement.
The Center for Democracy and Technology has coordinated the work of CIEC.
CDT is a non-profit public interest organization based in Washington, DC.
CDT works for public policies that advance civil liberties and democratic
values in new computer and communications technologies.
If you wish to remove yourself from the CIEC list, send mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org with a subject of:
unsubscribe CIEC list
Contacting us about Internet censorship or this alert: email@example.com
World Wide Web: http://www.cdt.org/
Snail Mail: The Center for Democracy and Technology
1634 Eye Street NW * Suite 1100 * Washington, DC 20006
(v) +1.202.637.9800 * (f) +1.202.637.0968
Center for Democracy and Technology
1634 Eye Street NW, Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20006
202 637 9800
fax 202 637 0968