The Communications Decency Act Essay Research Paper

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The Communications Decency Act Essay, Research Paper The Communications Decency Act The Communications Decency Act that was signed into law by President Clinton over a year ago is clearly in need of serious revisions due, not only to its vagueness, but mostly due to the fact that the government is infringing on our freedom of speech, may it be indecent or not. The Communications Decency Act, also know by Internet users as the CDA, is an Act that aims to remove indecent or dangerous text, lewd images, and other things deemed inappropriate from public areas of the net. The CDA is mainly out to protect children. In the beginning, the anonymity of the Internet caused it to become a haven for the free trading of pornography. This is mainly what gives the Internet a bad name. There

is also information on the Net that could be harmful to children. Information on how to make home-made explosives and similar info such as The Jolly Rodgers and the Anarchist’s Cookbook are easily obtained on the Net. Pedophiles (people attracted to child porn) also have a place to hide on the Internet where nobody has to know their real name. As the average age of the Internet user has started to drop, it has became apparent that something has to be done about the pornography and other inappropriate info on the net. On February 1, 1995, Senator Exon, a Democrat from Nebraska, and Senator Gorton, a Republican from Washington, introduced the first bill towards regulating online porn. This was the first incarnation of the Telecommunications Reform Bill. On April 7, 1995, Senator

Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, introduces bill S714. Bill S714 is an alternative to the Exon/Gorton bill. This bill commissions the Department of Justice to study the problem to see if additional legislature (such as the CDA) is even necessary. The Senate passed the CDA as attached to the Telecomm reform bill on June 14, 1995 with a vote of 84-16. The Leahy bill does not pass, but is supported by 16 Senators that actually understand what the Internet is. Seven days later, several prominent House members publicly announce their opposition to the CDA, including Newt Gingrich, Chris Cox, and Ron Wyden. On September 26, 1995, Senator Russ Feingold urges committee members to drop the CDA from the Telecommunications Reform Bill. On Thursday, February 1, 1996, Congress passed (House

414-9, Senate 91- 5) the Telecommunications Reform Bill, and attached to it the Communications Decency Act. This day was known as “Black Thursday” by the Internet community. One week later, it was signed into law by President Clinton on Thursday, February 8, 1996, also known as the “Day of Protest.” The punishment for breaking any of the provisions of the bill is punishable with up to 2 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine. On the “Day of Protest,” thousands of home-pages went black as Internet citizens expressed their disapproval of the Communications Decency Act. Presently there are numerous organizations that have formed in protest of the Act. The groups include: the American Civil Liberties Union, the Voters Telecommunications Watch, the Citizens Internet

Empowerment Coalition, the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Internet Action Group, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The ACLU is not just involved with Internet issues. They fight to protect the rights of many different groups. (ex. Gay and Lesbian Rights, Death Penalty Rights, and Women’s Rights) The ACLU is currently involved in the lawsuit of Reno vs. ACLU in which they are trying to get rid of the CDA. In addition to Internet users turning their homepage backgrounds black, there was the adoption of the Blue Ribbon, which was also used to symbolize their disapproval of the CDA. The Blue Ribbons are similar to the Red Ribbons that Aids supports are wearing. The Blue Ribbon spawned the creation of “The Blue Ribbon