cr> Censorship


Sender: Robert Cannon <•••@••.•••>
Subject: cr> FCC and CDA:  Rule Making

Henry Huang, Cyber Rights, Craig Johnson, Audrie Krause:

I don't have time right now to read what you wrote (in response to my
questions about CDA defenses).  I just scanned it.  My wife and I are
scheduled to give birth tomorrow.  But thanks!  As always, it looks
insightful.  Did you see that I was wrong about the FCC?  See  The FCC will issue a notice of inquiry
to promulgate rules implementing the CDA.  This NOI will appear this fall.
A NOI means that the FCC is clueless and cannot even venture a guess (in the
form of a proposed rule).  We have the right to submit comments as a part of
an expedited administrative process.  The FCC *must* respond to all comments
and give a "rational basis" for accepting or rejecting all comments.  I have
been in discussions with an associate of mine, Mr. Henry Crawford, an
experienced FCC attorney here in Washington.  We believe that it would be
prudent and cost effective to make a coalition of different groups in order
to file a comment on the implementation of the CDA.  If each member of the
coalition were to share a part of the cost, this would not cost too much.
Henry and I can lead up preparing a legal brief for submission presenting
our views.  It will be necessary to follow the FCC proceedings closely to
ensure that we have a timely submission and of course we want to prepare a
compelling presentation.  If we start organizing such a coalition now, we
can make sure we have an impact this fall.  Would CPSR, Cyber-Rights be
interested in forming a such a coalition and using Henry Crawford and myself
to prepare and file the comment?

-Robert Cannon

Robert Cannon, Esq.       |       ||      Leashes!
Online and Interactive    |      @@==+   We Dont Need No
Telecommunications Law    |  ======       Stinkin' Leashes!
Washington, D.C.          |  ||  ||          -Pancho Villa


Sender: •••@••.•••
Subject: AOL's view on the CDA<Long>

Here's the spin that AOL is putting on the whole CDA. Hope it provides as
much entertainment to y'all as it did to me. The depth and breadth of
hypocrasy scares me.

I'd like to talk this month about an issue at the forefront of our business
and the American political scene. The issue is how we can work together to
ensure that this medium serves to enhance the lives of our children, and all
individuals, as this interactive world takes shape and begins to move toward
the mass market.  While most of the recent debate has centered on how to
restrict access and inappropriate content, we feel it is equally important to
focus on and invest in new opportunities that will open up access to new and
exciting services and content that can enrich our children's lives. We have
many initiatives underway toward this end.

In previous months,  I've told you about our efforts with other online and
Internet service companies to promote the use of technologies and tools to
empower parents to help select appropriate content for their children.  We
feel that voluntary, proactive measures and others under development can
accomplish successful results without compromising a parent's privacy and the
right of free speech.

Last month, Congress passed -- with the President's signature -- The
Telecommunications Reform Act.  While the Act in general is good because it
promotes competition in a way that will help this medium flourish, there is a
section called the Communications Decency Act (CDA) which seeks to give the
government control over the content of the Internet. The passage of the CDA
comes at a critical time for America Online and this industry.  We realize
the responsibilities and challenges that come with being the largest online
service and Internet Service Provider in the world, and therefore would like
to take this opportunity to not only address what we consider to be a poorly
defined section of the law, but to offer solutions that we and others in the
industry can provide in order to make this type of legislation unnecessary.

The intent to regulate what has become one of the most ubiquitous means of
gathering and dispersing information and communication on a global scale is a
daunting proposition. These are complex issues which must be approached with
great sensitivity and careful consideration as this industry looks to balance
the interests of many diverse communities across the world.

At AOL, we are aware that the Internet contains content, goods, and services
that many people may find obscene, improper, hurtful or otherwise offensive
and that may not be suitable for minors. As much as anyone else, we wish to
keep this kind of material away from the eyes of those who may be offended
and out the reach of children. However, we don't feel that Internet Service
Providers nor the U.S. Government has the means nor the capability to
monitor, or review, or restrict all of the content, goods or services made
available on the Internet, nor to edit or remove all the questionable Content
after it has been posted on the Internet.

To this end, we and others in the industry provide the tools for people to
educate and empower themselves with the ability to block out material they
deem offensive. The three major online services provide parental controls
that limit and protect where members are allowed to go within the online
service and on the Internet. For example, on AOL, parents can now block all
but 'Kids Only', the area of the service with content targeted and programmed
specifically for kids. AOL also empowers parents to restrict content from
Newsgroups on the Internet, and we will  be expanding parental controls to
allow parents to block more software libraries on AOL and the Internet; World
Wide Web sites; e-mail from AOL and the Internet as well as reading attached
e-mail files; and message boards.  To activate our Parental Controls, go to

AOL is also active in a wide-ranging group of publishers, telecommunications
companies, Internet and online service providers and software firms to
develop an easy to use labeling and selection platform called PICS, which
empowers people worldwide to selectively control online content they receive.
PICS stands for Platform for Internet Content Selection, and is expected to
be available royalty-free later this year. This effort merges the activities
of The World Wide Web Consortium and the Information Highway Parent
Empowerment Group.

We appreciate and respect the U.S. Government's concerns about what is
available on the Internet. We feel, however, that this legislation, because
of its vague wording, broadly restricts the freedom of speech guaranteed in
the Bill of Rights.   It is for this reason that AOL, along with 22 other
organizations and corporations, last week filed a complaint against the
United States government, challenging the CDA on the basis of the First
Amendment.  The plaintiffs include the other major online service companies
as well as organizations like the American Library Association, the American
Society of Newspaper Publishers and companies such as Apple Computer.

What's key to our complaint is this:  We're not challenging the government's
ability to prosecute communication that is currently prohibited nor its
regulation of non-protected speech.  But the law is so vague that, in our
opinion, could restrict educational information on public health, art, and
literature.  We believe there is a better way to arrive at the end goal of
protecting our children through empowering parents to determine what is

Our focus is not only on providing these tools to protect our children but
also on enhancing their online experience through new efforts we have
undertaken and services we offer on AOL.  In our highlights section below, I
list some of the many great areas within our Kids Only channel and other
family-oriented offerings that I encourage you to explore with your child.
 Through educational and entertaining content, your children will enjoy being

As a final note, in keeping with our commitment to enrich the lives of our
children, I want to make you aware of a public service effort we're

Those of you in California might be aware of the initiative by private
industry and by the President and Vice President to place more computers in
schools.  President Clinton has called for the installation of computers in
every classroom by the year 2000.  As part of this huge effort to bring
schoolchildren onto the information superhighway, we're co-sponsoring a
statewide campaign called NetDay96 to provide 2,000 schools in the state with
free AOL service for one year.  Our target day -- NetDay -- is Saturday,
March 9.  This program can introduce school children to the richness of the
online world -- children who may otherwise would not have had this
opportunity. If you live in California, you can participate in NetDay on a
local level by contacting your school and volunteering with others to help
organize the school's educational and fund-raising efforts as well as
installing and testing your school's new wiring infrastructure (typically
five classrooms and the library.)

Help us show the AOL's community's support for NetDay96 by contacting your
school.  For more details, go to the NetDay96 home page by using the keyword:  California schools can also request to be part of
the initiative by e-mailing details about their school to •••@••.•••.

We certainly hope this initiative expands to the rest of the country over
time, and we'll be sure to involve as many of our members as possible in
getting schools online as we learn of those opportunities.

Thanks for reading.

Warm regards,

Steve Case

 Posted by Andrew Oram  - •••@••.••• - Moderator: CYBER-RIGHTS (CPSR)
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