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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
Technology.
_____________________________________________________________________________
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
inappropriate material.

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
you!
_______________________________________________________________________
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
telecom issues?
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
Communications
Commission.

*  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
the
protections have a major loophole, allowing the disclosure of personal
information for "legitimate business activites related to" making such
communications.

For more information on HR 3783, and the latest text of the bill, go to
http://www.cdt.org/speech/

 

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
ciecmaster@cdt.org with a subject of:

    unsubscribe CIEC list

Contacting us about Internet censorship or this alert: ari@cdt.org

World Wide Web:
http://www.cdt.org/
 
http:www.ciec.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


------------------------------------
Aleksandr Gembinski
Webmaster
Center for Democracy and Technology
1634 Eye Street NW, Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20006
202 637 9800
fax 202 637 0968
alek@cdt.org
http://www.cdt.org
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