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The Communications Decency Act Essay

1415 words - 6 pages

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. ...view middle of the document...

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 Campaign.' The Blue Ribbon's Homepage is the fourth most linked to site on the Internet. Only Netscape, Yahoo, and Webcrawler are more linked to. To be linked to means that they can be reached from another site. It's pretty hard to surf around on the Net and not see a Blue Ribbon on someone's site.On the day that President Clinton signed the CDA into law, a group of nineteen organizations, from the American Civil Liberties Union to the National Writers Union, filed suit in federal court, arguing that it restricted free speech. At the forefront of the battle against the CDA is Mike Godwin. Mike Godwin is regarded as one of the most important online-rights activists today. He is the staff counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and has 'won fans and infuriated rivals with his media savvy, obsessive knowledge of the law, and knack for arguing opponents into exhaustion.' Since 1990 he has written on legal issues for magazines like Wired and Internet World and spoken endlessly at universities, at public rallies, and to the national media....

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