Net Censorship Crisis Black Thursday The date 1 February 1996 will be remembered as +quot;

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[Net Censorship Crisis] Black Thursday The date 1 February 1996 will be remembered as "Black Thursday" on the Internet. Ignoring howls of protest from civil liberties advocates, business groups, and thousands of concerned netizens, Congress on Thursday passed a sweeping telecommunications reform bill that includes Internet censorship provisions that flagrantly violate the First Amendment. In the end, the vote wasn't even close. The House passed the bill 414-16, while the vote in the Senate was 91-5 - lopsided tallies that demonstrate how little stock Congress places in the Constitution and your basic free-speech rights. The bill now awaits signing by President Clinton, who is expected to give it his approval in the next week. Under the terms of the legislation, anyone who transmits, posts, or distributes "indecent" material on the World Wide Web, ftp sites, or Usenet newsgroups may be punished with a US$250,000 fine and a prison term of up to two years. Even worse, the only way online service providers can avoid prosecution is by censoring public and private messages to ensure that they do not contain "indecent" material. The bottom line: America Online, CompuServe, Netcom, and hundreds of local ISPs will soon be deputized as agents of Big Brother. Don't be fooled by the hype about "deregulation," "free choice," and "parental empowerment." This legislation establishes a big-government censorship regime that will criminalize free speech on the Internet, effectively restricting expression to that which is appropriate for children. As Ira Glasser, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, has noted, "This law restructures the entire telecommunications industry and places the free speech and privacy rights of all Internet users in permanent jeopardy. For a Congress that says it wants to get big government out of people's lives, this law represents the most extreme hypocrisy." We couldn't agree more. So what's next? A coalition of civil liberties groups spearheaded by the ACLU has vowed to challenge the constitutionality of the "indecency" restrictions as soon as President Clinton signs the bill into law. Although the ACLU expects a difficult fight, legal precedent gives cause for optimism. Congress may not mind stomping on the Constitution, but perhaps the black-robed justices of the Supreme Court will pay close attention to the original instructions of the Founding Fathers: "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." See you in court, dear legislators. by Todd Lappin Join the Blue Ribbon Anti-Censorship Campaign! [Cyber Rights Under Attack!] Fuck, Piss, Shit, etc. Louis Rossetto responds to the Net Censorship Crisis From DC to Your PC The history of the congressional attack on online free speech Ramming a Hot Poker up the Internet's Ass Brock N. Meeks jacks in from the "Sticking It to the Net" port The Net Talks Back to Washington Online resources for further study of the Communications Decency Act All Opposed Say "Nay" What you can do to make your voice heard Geeks Take to the Streets San Francisco netizens took to the streets to defend free speech on Thursday, 14 December 1995. Read the exclusive HotWired report HotWired's Electronic Frontiers Forum Participate in live weekly discussions with leaders in the fight against Internet censorship [Image] [Overview] Copyright 1995 HotWired Ventures LLC. All rights reserved.

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