ACLU v. Reno – Media Update 2/23/96


Emily Whitfield

                                         ***Media Advisory***

                                         ACLU v Reno: Update

                   Government Agrees Not to Investigate or Prosecute Internet
"Indecency"                                       Until Three-Judge Court
Rules on Case
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                     Contact: Phil
Gutis/(202) 675-2312
Friday, February 23, 1996                                      Emily
Whitfield/(212) 944-9800, x426

*       Government will refrain from pursuing Internet prosecution 
*       Abortion speech restrictions, already acknowledged unconstitutional, 
              not addressed
*       ACLU hearing dates set for March 21 and 22 in Philadelphia

1.  In a deal brokered with the U.S. Department of Justice, the ACLU
announced that the government agreed not to initiate investigations or
prosecute under the "indecency" or "patently offensive" censorship provisions
of  the Telecommunications Act  while the three-judge panel considers the
case.  ACLU attorney Chris Hansen, who is leading the litigation, explained
that the agreement represented a victory because it expands protections for
Internet users beyond the temporary restraining order on the indecency
provisions granted by Judge Buckwalter last Thursday.  Under this agreement,
which protects all Internet users, no one will be either investigated or
prosecuted for "patently offensive" speech.  If the law is upheld, the
government has reserved the right to prosecute later for such speech dating
from the passage of the law. 

2.  Citing the government's earlier concession that the legislation's
restriction on abortion speech is unconstitutional, Catherine Weiss,
litigation director for the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project, said that
the agreement did not need to address the abortion speech restriction.  The
Clinton Justice Department has already said that it will not prosecute for
abortion-related speech on the Internet under any circumstances.        

3.  At a scheduling conference on Tuesday, the three-judge court set five
dates for the hearing on the preliminary injunction motion in Philadelphia.
 The ACLU's hearing  dates are March 21 and 22, with April 1 reserved.  The
government's dates are April 11 and 12, 1996.  The total trial is scheduled
to last five days.  

  Complete information on the lawsuit is available via ACLU's new "Freedom
Network" World Wide Web page,  <<>>,  and via the ACLU's
Constitution Hall forum on America Online (keyword: ACLU).