Craig A. Johnson
Date: Thu, 4 Apr 1996 17:54:42 -0800
From: •••@••.••• (--Todd Lappin-->)
Subject: LAWSUIT: ACLU Update 4/4/96
Last Monday's hearing in the case of the Internet vs. the Department
of Justice was the last day of testimony for witnesses representing
the ACLU and CIEC.
>>From here on out, the Department of Justice will be presenting its
witnesses, although one more ACLU/CIEC witness, Dr. Albert Vezza,
associate director of the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science, has yet
to testify on our behalf. (Due to scheduling conflicts, Dr. Vezza was
unable to testify earlier.)
The following ACLU Trial Update provides some handy background
information on the DoJ witnesses who will testify when the hearings
resume on April 12.
Check it out, and, as always...
Work the network!
ACLU v. RENO: TRIAL UPDATE
Government Calls Two Witnesses;
MIT Expert Will Testify for Plaintiffs on PICS Standards
For Immediate Release
Thursday, April 4, 1996
NEW YORK-Government lawyers today notified the ACLU that they plan to
call two witnesses in the next two days of hearings to determine the
future of free speech in cyberspace.
An expert witness for the plaintiffs will also appear to offer
testimony on a technical standard that allows parents to impose
limitations on children's access to certain information on the
The government will call only two witnesses to make their case:
Dan R. Olsen, Jr., Ph.D., Professor of Computer Science, Brigham Young
University; and Special Agent Howard A. Schmidt, Air Force Office of
According to DOJ lawyers, Dr. Olsen is expected to testify
technical issues related to the safe harbor' defenses under the
Communications Decency Act of 1996." Special Agent Schmidt "is
expected to present a demonstration and testify concerning access to
information, including sexually explicit material, that is available
The witnesses are scheduled to appear on April 12 and 15 in the
1. Special Agent Schmidt (DOJ)
2. Dr. Albert Vezza (ALA)
3. Dr. Dan Olsen, Jr. (DOJ).
The government did not indicate whether Agent Schmidt's
would involve an Internet hook-up in the courtroom, as was the case
when plaintiff witness Ann Duvall gave the judges a tour of the
Internet and demonstrated SurfWatch blocking software.
An additional plaintiff witness, Dr. Albert Vezza, will be
on April 12 to present testimony regarding PICS (Platform for Internet
Content Selection), a programming standard designed to allow parents,
teachers, or other supervisors to voluntarily impose limitations on
children's' access to certain information on the Internet. Dr. Vezza
is associate director of the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science and
has chief responsibility for the PICS project. (Dr. Vezza was unable
to testify during the other plaintiff hearing dates due to scheduling
The consolidated cases of ACLU v. Reno and American Library
Association v. U.S. Department of Justice challenge provisions of the
Communications Decency Act of 1996 that criminalize making available
to minors "indecent" or "patently offensive" speech.
According to procedures laid out by the judges, direct testimony
be submitted by affidavit, and lawyers from the ACLU and ALA
coalitions will cross-examination the government witnesses.
Government lawyers will have an opportunity to re-direct, and judges
can also question the witnesses from the bench.
Following the two days of testimony on April 12 and 15, the next
hearing date in ACLU v. Reno is April 26, when ACLU and ALA lawyers
will have an opportunity to present witnesses rebutting the
Final arguments by plaintiff and defense attorneys are scheduled
Monday, June 3, and the judges are expected to issue a ruling sometime
in the weeks following. Under expedited provisions, any appeal on
rulings regarding the new censorship law will be made directly to the
U.S. Supreme Court.
Lawyers for the ACLU appearing before the judges are Christopher
Hansen, Marjorie Heins, Ann Beeson, and Stefan Presser, legal director
of the ACLU of Pennsylvania.
Complete information on the lawsuit, including the direct testimony
affidavits of ACLU witnesses, statements by teens affected by Internet
censorship, is available via the ACLU's web page,
<http://www.aclu.org>, and via the ACLU's Constitution Hall forum on
America Online (keyword: ACLU).
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