cr> ACLU Cyber-Liberties Update: 02/09/96


Craig A. Johnson

Date:          Fri, 9 Feb 1996 21:54:15 GMT
From:          •••@••.•••
Subject:       ACLU Cyber-Liberties Update: 02/09/96

February 9, 1996
A bi-weekly e-zine on cyber-liberties cases and controversies
at the state and federal level.

*Litigation Update on ACLU v. Reno

*Thanks to All Who Offered Themselves As Plaintiffs, Plus Where You
Can Find the Plaintiffs on the Net

*Action Alert!  Urge Attorney General Janet Reno Not to Enforce the
Telecom Bill!

*6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Affirms Rules in U.S. v. Thomas
(Amateur Action BBS Prosecution)

*ACLU Launches eeFreedom Network' Web Site, Brings Civil Liberties
Activism To Cyberspace

FEDERAL PAGE (Congress/Agency/Court Cases)
*Litigation Update on ACLU v. Reno

 **Media Advisory***
 ACLU v Reno: Update
Thursday, February 8, 1996      

*Judge Sets Date for Government to File Reply Brief
*Government Agrees Not to Prosecute for 7 days
*Government Concedes that Abortion Speech Restrictions Are
------- -------------------------------------------

1.  In the first court action over the constitutionality of  the
Communications Decency Act, federal Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter today
instructed the government to file a reply brief to the ACLU's request
for a temporary restraining order by Wednesday, February 14.  Lawyers
representing the ACLU and the 19 other plaintiffs challenging the law
said that Judge Buckwalter's reaction to the arguments against the
constitutionality of the law was positive.

2. Although he declined to issue an immediate restraining order
against the law, Judge Buckwalter directed the government to refrain
from prosecuting for so-called indecent or patently offensive material
online, at least until the TRO motion is decided.  ACLU Attorney Chris
Hansen, who is leading the litigation, said that he was pleased with
the judge's action today, but cautioned that the Internet community
still faces prosecution should the Communications Decency Act
ultimately be upheld.

3. During today's hearing, the government conceded the
unconstitutionality of the abortion speech restrictions of the
telecommunications act. While the ACLU claimed an early win for
reproductive rights and free speech, Catherine Weiss of the ACLU's
Reproductive Freedom Project said that a complete victory could not be
claimed until the Justice Department puts the concession in writing,
which she said they have so far refused to do.

 Complete information on the lawsuit, including the legal brief, is
via ACLU's new "Freedom Network" World Wide Web page,
 <<>>,  and via the ACLU's Constitution Hall forum
America Online. 

*Thanks to All Who Offered Themselves As Plaintiffs, Plus Where You
Can Find the Plaintiffs on the Net

After much deliberation between literally hundreds of potential
plaintiffs for ACLU v. Reno, the litigation coalition settled on a
final group of twenty plaintiffs thought to make the best case for a
constitutional challenge.
 Many factors went into the decision, with a primary concern the
 selection of
a diverse group in terms of content and type of online communication
(e.g., listservs, web sites, bbs's, Usenet, etc.).  Thanks to all the
groups and individuals who expressed interest and made themselves
available as plaintiffs.  We hope you will continue to support the
challenge to this blatantly unconstitutionl law, and we remain
inspired by all the wonderful netizens who stand up for free speech on
the Net.

The plaintiffs can be found at (links from the ACLU web site will be
up shortly):

AIDS Education Global Information Service
online site:   BBS at 714-248-2836

American Civil Liberties Union
online sites:
          America Online at keyword ACLU

online site:

ClariNet Communications Corp.
online site:
          rec.humor.funny (Usenet)

Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
online site:

Critical Path AIDS Project
online sites:
          215-463-7160 BBS

Electronic Frontier Foundation
online site:

Electronic Privacy Information Center
online site:

Human Rights Watch
gopher site:   gopher://

The Institute for Global Communications
online site:

Journalism Education Association
(high school journalism teachers who instruct students in online

Declan McCullagh dba Justice on Campus
online site:

Brock Meeks dba CyberWire Dispatch
online site:

National Writers Union
online site:

Planned Parenthood Federation of America
online site:

Queer Resources Directory
online site:

Stop Prisoner Rape
online site:

John Troyer dba Safer Sex Page
online site:

Jonathan Wallace dba The Ethical Spectacle
online site:

Wildcat Press
online site:

YouthArts Project of Wildcat Press
online site:


*Action Alert!  Urge Attorney General Janet Reno Not to Enforce the
Indecency Provisions of the Telcom Bill!

ACTION NEEDED:  As reported above, the ACLU yesterday asked a Federal
judge in Philadelphia to issue a temporary restraining order against
enforcement of the "indecency" provisions of the CDA.  The judge is
expected to rule sometime next week, and required the Department of
Justice -- headed by Janet Reno and responsible for enforcing all
federal criminal laws -- to stipulate that it would not begin
prosecutions in the meantime.

Until the judge rules, it is CRUCIAL that netizens continue to call
the Department of Justice to tell them why any prosecutions under the
CDA would threaten the very future of the online medium.

You can write or call the Attorney General's office to tell the agency
why it should not prosecute on the basis of these provisions.

Call the Attorney General's office at 202-514-2001.

Fax the Attorney General's office at 202-514-4371

E-mail the Attorney General's office at •••@••.••• or visit the
Department of Justice web site at:

For more details, see the ACLU web page or AOL forum.  The web site
has an automated e-mail and fax message to send to the Attorney
General's office. -------------------------------

*6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Affirms Rules in U.S. v. Thomas
(Amateur Action BBS Prosecution)

The January 29, 1996 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th
Circuit affirms the decision of the lower Federal District Court.  

The ACLU's amicus brief for the Court of Appeals and the decision is
available on the ACLU Website and AOL forum.

The 6th Circuit's decision largely ignores the issues raised in the
ACLU's amicus brief, and in particular overlooks the problem for
online providers of adult content in ascertaining the age and location
of prospective customers.

Not only must online providers of adult material ascertain the
community standards of the customer's hometown (a factor for which
there is no guideline other than past prosecutions), but they must
rely on a payment method such as a credit card billing address to
determine whether a customer is reporting their hometown accurately. 
And even having made that determination, the provider has no certain
way of assuring that a customer is not accessing their offerings from
locations other than their hometown.

This problem, unique to the online medium, is among the many that
plague the prosecution of Robert and Carleen Thomas, operators of an
adult bulletin board service, by the U.S. Postal Inspector.


*ACLU Launches eeFreedom Network' Web Site, Brings Civil Liberties
Activism To Cyberspace

Wednesday, February 7, 1996

 NEW YORK -- The American Civil Liberties Union today launched its new
Wide Web site -- the ACLU Freedom Network -- with special features for
students, activists and all Americans concerned about protecting and
preserving liberty.

 Opened as political leaders in Washington are poised to end free
on the Internet, the ACLU's Freedom Network has complete information
on the threats to cyber-liberties, including details of the ACLU's
upcoming litigation against the Communications Decency Act. Internet
users can find the Freedom Network by directing their web browsers to
the following address: <<>>.

 The ACLU's  provocative and informative site contains a comprehensive
of documents, news releases, legal briefs and Congressional memos on
all aspects of the ongoing struggle to protect civil liberties. Among
the special features are extensive looks at 15 issues, including:

   Church and State
   Criminal Justice
   Death Penalty
   Free Speech
   Immigrant's Rights
   Lesbian and Gay Rights
   National Security
   Racial Equality
   Reproductive Rights
   Student's Rights
   Voting Rights
   Women's Rights
   Workplace Rights

 Each issue area contains internal links to ACLU press releases,
publications, and other resources -- including links to other Web
sites -- allowing users to stay on top of the latest developments in
their areas of interest.

 Activists, journalists, and many others will want to sign up for
delivery of ACLU News Releases, Legislative Alerts, Scheduled ACLU
events on AOL, and the biweekly newsletter, ACLU Cyber-Liberties
Alert. Subscription instructions are available at •••@••.•••.

 Another Freedom Hall feature allows internet users to fax or e-mail a
to Attorney General Janet Reno, urging her to refrain from prosecuting
any indecency cases until the courts rule on the Constitutionality of
the indecency provisions of the telecommunications bill. 

 The Freedom Network's "In the Courts" and "In Congress" sections
further primary source material, such as the text of Supreme Court 
decisions and summaries of current Congressional bills, as well as
unique ACLU information -- including photos and  profiles of some ACLU

 Students and teachers will want to explore our special section
 devoted to
education, and sign-up for our online Students and  Faculty databases.
Users can even pick up some T-shirts -- or videos, or books, or
posters -- in our sophisticated online store.

 The launch of the Freedom Network marks the third step into
 cyberspace for
the ACLU, which has since 1994 explored the medium's capacity to
broaden the nationwide community of civil libertarians, distribute
information, teach young people and bring activists together. In
addition to Freedom Hall, the ACLU hosts a very active forum --
Constitution Hall -- on America Online, the nation's largest
commercial online service. (Keyword ACLU).     

ACLU Freedom Network Web Site:  
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

To subscribe to the ACLU Cyber-Liberties Update, send a message to
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