Richard Moore

Date: Wed, 6 Dec 1995
From: •••@••.••• (Ann Beeson)
To: Multiple recipients of list <•••@••.•••>
Subject: ACLU Cyberr-Liberties Update: 12/6/95
X-To: •••@••.•••, •••@••.•••, •••@••.•••,

December 6, 1995
A bi-weekly e-zine on cyber-liberties cases and controversies
at the state and federal level.

*    ACLU Announces Plans to Challenge Online Censorship Provisions in
Court; Says That House Conference Vote Leaves No Other Options


*     ACLU Speaks on Cyber-Liberties

FEDERAL PAGE (Congress/Agency/Court Cases)
*    ACLU Announces Plans to Challenge Online Censorship Provisions in
Court;Says That House Conference Vote Leaves No Other Options

Contact: Phil Gutis  202-675-2312

WASHINGTON -- Saying that it could not depend on Congress to protect free
speech on the Internet, the American Civil Liberties Union said today that
it would challenge in court any of the online censorship proposals now
being considered by a House-Senate conference committee.

In a vote today, the House members of the Congressional conference
committee on the telecommunications bill betrayed their chamber's earlier
vote to reject censorship on the Internet.

"All of Congress's proposals violate the First Amendment and privacy rights
of adults to communicate freely in the online environment," said Barry
Steinhardt, ACLU Associate Director. "Congress is making it ever more clear
that we will have to turn to the courts to uphold free speech in the
promising new medium of cyberspace."

The ACLU rejected as unconstitutional the proposals offered by Senator J.
James Exon, D-Nebraska, Senator Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, and
Representative Henry Hyde, R-Illinois, as well as the one offered by
Representative Rick White, R-Washington.

The House conferees voted today on how to respond to the Senate's
provisions on Internet censorship. Although they first adopted the White
censorship proposal -- which the media widely and inaccurately portrayed as
a compromise -- they then amended it to include the Senate's standard for

Last August, the House won widespread praise from the online community when
it adopted an amendment to encourage Internet providers to better develop
screening technologies for parents to use in controlling what their
children see in cyberspace. House Speaker Newt Gingrich went as far as to
call the Senate version of the legislation a clear "violation of free
speech" and a "violation of the right of adults to communicate with each

Unfortunately," said ACLU Legislative Counsel Donald Haines, "the House
members graciously accepted their applause for opposing censorship and
then, in a legislative slight of hand, turned right around and came up with
their own scheme to censor what people say and see on the Internet."

The ACLU said that it would continue to work in Congress to keep the
Internet free. "Regardless of how the bill turns out," said Haines, "both
the House and Senate need to continue to hear that their censorship is
simply not acceptable."

The House conferee's vote today removes the best chance that a
telecommunications bill will emerge without an Internet censorship
provision, the ACLU said.

"If Congress adopts either the White or Exon censorship schemes -- which
appears increasingly likely -- they will force us to turn to the Courts and
we will sue," Steinhardt said.

More than 25 civil liberties groups, regional Internet service providers,
and commercial producers of entertainment, information, and journalism
joined an ACLU letter, delivered earlier today, that urged the conferees to
reject all proposals to impose new government censorship regulations on
cyberspace and online communications.

The ACLU said that, interestingly enough, the groups and individuals who
are eager to challenge the censorship provisions should they become law
have communicated with the ACLU via the Internet.

Online political columnists, distributors of gay and lesbian resources,
human rights groups, academic researchers of human sexuality, AIDS
education groups, prisoners' rights groups, and student groups with
controversial web pages have all already approached the ACLU about being
plaintiffs in a court challenge. The groups said that they fear prosecution
because they use online services to post, exchange, or distribute material
that could be deemed "indecent" under the proposed law.

For a copy of the coalition letter sent to the conferees, send a message to
•••@••.••• with "letter opposing White and Hyde" in the subject

The following organizations signed the letter:

American Civil Liberties Union
American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
American Communication Association
Art and Technology Society
Association of Alternative Newsweeklies
Boston Coalition for Freedom of Expression
Coalition for Academic Freedom of Expression, Carnegie Mellon University
Council of Literary Magazines and Presses
Datalytics, Inc.
Electronic Privacy Information Center
Feminists for Free Expression
Filz and Associates, Inc.
HotWired Magazine
Human Rights Watch
Justice on Campus Project
Internet Users Consortium
LitNet (The Literary Network)
Lumberyard BBS Community Network
MIT Student Association for Freedom of Expression
Media Democracy in Action Consortium (MeDIA Consortium)
National Campaign for Freedom of Expression
National Coalition Against Censorship
National Writers Union
NorthWest Feminist Anti-Censorship Taskforce
Oregon Coast Rural Information Service Cooperative
Pacific Online Access
Public Access Networks Corp. (Panix)
The Society for Human Sexuality, University of Washington
Wired Magazine


ACLU Speaks on Cyber-Liberties
12/5/95     Nadine Strossen, President of the ACLU, debated Kathy Cleaver
of the American Family Research Council over online censorship proposals on
CNN's "Crossfire."

12/5/95    Barry Steinhardt, Associate Director of the ACLU, debated Bob
Peters of Morality and Media over online censorship proposals on CBS Radio
Network's Gil Gross Show.

12/7/95     Ann Beeson, ACLU cyberspace policy analyst, speaks on a panel
at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  "Art on the Internet:
Power, Access and Desire," 7:30 p.m.  See

Next week:   Watch the CNBC 6:00 pm news for an interview with Barry
Steinhardt on Congress' proposals to censor the net.

Stay tuned for news on the ACLU's world wide web site, under construction
at  America Online users should check out our live
chats, auditorium events, *very* active message boards, and complete news
on civil liberties, at keyword ACLU.

ACLU Cyber-Liberties Update
Editor: Ann Beeson (•••@••.•••)
American Civil Liberties Union National Office
132 West 43rd Street
New York, New York 10036

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 Posted by      Richard K. Moore <•••@••.•••>
                Wexford, Ireland (USA citizen)
                Editor: The Cyberjournal (@CPSR.ORG)

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