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EFFector - Volume 8, Issue 19 - EFF Statement on Proposals Regarding Content Control on the Net


EFFector - Volume 8, Issue 19 - EFF Statement on Proposals Regarding Content Control on the Net

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EFFector Online Volume 08 No. 19       Dec 5, 1995
A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation        ISSN 1062-9424


EFF Statement on Proposals Regarding Content Control on the Net
ALERT: *Last Chance* on Net Censorship Legislation! Act NOW!
  The Latest News
  What You Can Do Now
  Legislative History
  List of Participating Organizations
[Newsbytes skipped for this issue, due to urgency of lead articles] 
Upcoming Events
Quote of the Day
What YOU Can Do

* See or, /pub/Alerts/ for more
information on current EFF activities and online activism alerts! *


Subject: EFF Statement on Proposals Regarding Content Control on the Net

Dec. 5, 1995
The Electronic Frontier Foundation maintains its longstanding position
that no new legislation is required to regulate content in cyberspace, and
that the existing federal and state framework provides an adequate legal
basis for the prosecution both of illegal material and of any
victimization of children.
Given the Telecom Bill conference committee's insistence that it must pass
new content legislation affecting the Net, however, EFF acknowledges the
value of the approach of Rep. Rick White (R-Washington). Rep. White, who 
clearly possesses substantial familiarity with Net communications and legal
issues, is attempting to steer the Telecom Bill toward legislation that
remains within the bounds of well-understood Constitutional principles,
that provides protections for providers and users from the
"chilling effect" of overreaching federal statutes and overbroad risk of
legal liability, and that empowers parents and other users to make their
own content choices in online environments.
EFF does not endorse all provisions of the White proposal. We do, however,
endorse the following principles, which Rep. White has attempted to
incorporate in his proposal:
1) No crimes based on the vague and undefined notion of online
2) Encouragement of open-ended filtering/labelling systems that empower
parents and other users to make their own choices about net content.
3) Refusal to impose strict legal liability on providers, system
operators, and others, given that such liability would chill the existence
and growth of free online forums.
4) Extension of the same protections to commercial and educational forums.

5) Setting the criminal-intent element of any criminal-law provisions so
that users and providers cannot accidentally become criminally liable.
EFF notes that the alternative to the White proposal -- a proposal offered
by Rep. Hyde -- is so deeply repugnant both to parental autonomy and to
the First Amendment's protections for freedom of speech as to constitute a
direct authoritarian assault on the fabric of the Net. The conference
committee is being fiercely lobbied by religious extremists who falsely
represent themselves as speaking for all who care about families,
children, and morality -- these extremists will stop at nothing to enact
legislation that is aimed not at the protection of children, but at the
silencing of everybody whose values do not echo their own.
EFF strongly urges the conferees not to take this nation and this new
medium down the path of unthinking, fearful censorship. We ask that the
conferees instead refuse to assume that the only way to protect our
children and ourselves is to turn our backs on the First Amendment.
Americans are a smarter people than that, and we expect our
representatives not to fall for this false choice.  The true choice is
between those who would cut the Constitution to fit their own moral
fashions and those who believe that our citizens can, at the same time, be
trusted both with freedom of speech and with the primary authority to make
choices for their children.
For further information, contact:
Mike Godwin
Staff Counsel
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Regrettably, we do not yet have an online copy of the White proposal - 
yet another reason you should join the hundreds if not thousands of 
citizens who have written to Rep. Gingrich to make good on his months-old 
promise to ensure that the public had immediate online access to *all* 
legislative information, including bill amendments!

When available the text will be at, /pub/Alerts/s652_hr1555_white_amend.draft, 1/Alerts, s652_hr1555_white_amend.draft

For the time being, CDT has provided analysis of the White amendment and 
competing drafts from more censorious legislators.  See for this analysis.


ALERT: *Last Chance* on Net Censorship Legislation! Act NOW!


        Short Update: The Conference Committee will vote this week!

        What You Can Do Now: Call the conference committee and tell
                                them to oppose Rep. Hyde's proposal
                                to censor the Internet.

                        Time is running out.

                           Dec 4, 1995

                REDISTRIBUTE ONLY UNTIL December 20, 1995


        The Latest News
        What You Can Do Now
        Legislative History
        List of Participating Organizations (changed)



The fate of the Internet as we know it today and the future of freedom
of speech in interactive media will come down to a vote of the
telecommunications reform bill conferees, scheduled for Wednesday
December 6.  A bad outcome will criminalize content currently provided
by millions of people on the Internet as illegal and subject to jail
time and large fines.

Call the conference committee now and tell them that parental control
not government censorship is the only effective means of addressing
childrens' access to objectionable content on the Internet.  Don't
wait.  The stakes here are too high.

Please look below at the list of legislators and call yours, and if
yours is not on the conference committee, call House Speaker Gingrich
or Senate Leader Dole.

Because of the slow speed with which staffers read legislators' email,
email to them will not be effective.



1. Most of the proposals available to the conference committee will
   fundamentally restrict your speech on the Internet and other public
   networks.  Look at the list below and call the legislators in your
   state and ask them to oppose Rep. Hyde's efforts to censor the net.
   If none of them are in your state, call Gingrich and Dole.

   If we cannot convince the conference committee to make the right
   choices at this juncture, we will have lost this campaign.

   To see which legislator is yours, consult the free ZIPPER service
   that matches Zip Codes to Congressional districts with about 85%
   accuracy at:


   Or simply look at the list below organized by states.

   If you're at a loss for words, try one of the following:

        Please oppose the Internet censorship amendments for the
        Telecomm bill being put forth by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL).
        The only effective way to address children's access to
        objectionable material on the Internet is through parental
        As a religious person and a parent, I oppose the Internet
        censorship language for the Telecomm bill currently proposed
        by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL).  I, the parent, am the best person
        to monitor my child's access to the Internet.
        Although there is information on the Internet that I wouldn't
        allow my children to see, I don't agree with the proposals
        from the Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) and others that would censor the
        the Internet.  As a parent, I have parental control tools that
        are far more effective at controlling my children's access to the

   House members of the Conference Committee

   Dist ST Name, Address, and Party       Phone            Fax
   ==== == ========================       ==============   ==============
      6 GA Gingrich, Newt (R)             1-202-225-4501   1-202-225-4656
     14 CA Eshoo, Anna G. (D)             1-202-225-8104   1-202-225-8890
      6 TN Gordon, Bart (D)               1-202-225-4231   1-202-225-6887
     27 NY Paxon, Bill                    1-202-225-5265   1-202-225-5910
      7 GA Barr, Bob (R)                  1-202-225-2931   n.a.
      1 IL Rush, Bobby L. (D)             1-202-225-4372   1-202-226-0333
     27 CA Moorhead, Carlos J. (R)        1-202-225-4176   1-202-226-1279
      6 FL Stearns, Clifford B. (R)       1-202-225-5744   1-202-225-3973
      4 NY Frisa, Daniel (R)              1-202-225-5516   1-202-225-4672
      6 CO Schaefer, Daniel (R)           1-202-225-7882   1-202-225-7885
     14 IL Hastert, J. D. (R)             1-202-225-2976   1-202-225-0697
      7 MA Markey, Edward J. (D)          1-202-225-2836   1-202-225-8689
     23 CA Gallegly, Elton (R)            1-202-225-5811   1-202-225-1100
      6 IL Hyde, Henry J. (R)             1-202-225-4561   1-202-226-1240
     26 CA Berman, Howard L. (D)          1-202-225-4695   1-202-225-5279
      8 TX Fields, Jack (R)               1-202-225-4901   1-202-225-2772
      6 TX Barton, Joseph (R)             1-202-225-2002   1-202-225-3052
      5 TX Bryant, John (D)               1-202-225-2231   1-202-225-9721
     14 MI Conyers Jr., John (D)          1-202-225-5126   1-202-225-0072
     16 MI Dingell, John D. (D)           1-202-225-4071   1-202-225-7426
      1 AR Lambert-Lincoln, Blanche (D)   1-202-225-4076   1-202-225-4654
     10 OH Hoke, Martin R. (R)            1-202-225-5871   1-202-226-0994
      5 IL Flanagan, Michael (R)          1-202-225-4061   n.a.
      4 OH Oxley, Michael G. (R)          1-202-225-2676   1-202-226-1160
      1 CO Schroeder, Patricia (D)        1-202-225-4431   1-202-225-5842
      9 VA Boucher, Rick (D)              1-202-225-3861   1-202-225-0442
      1 WA White, Rick (R)                1-202-225-6311   1-202-225-2286
      6 VA Goodlatte, Robert W. (R)       1-202-225-5431   1-202-225-9681
      3 VA Scott, Robert C. (D)           1-202-225-8351   1-202-225-8354
      2 WI Klug, Scott (R)                1-202-225-2906   1-202-225-6942
     18 TX Jackson-Lee, Sheila (D)        1-202-225-3816   n.a.
     13 OH Brown, Sherrod (D)             1-202-225-3401   1-202-225-2266
      5 IN Buyer, Steve (D)               1-202-225-5037   n.a.
      7 VA Bliley Jr., Thomas J. (R)      1-202-225-2815   1-202-225-0011

   Senate members of the Conference Committee

      P ST Name and Address           Phone           Fax
      = == ========================   ==============  ==============
      R MT Burns, Conrad R.           1-202-224-2644  1-202-224-8594
      D HI Inouye, Daniel K.          1-202-224-3934  1-202-224-6747
      D SC Hollings, Ernest F.        1-202-224-6121  1-202-224-4293
      D WV Rockefeller, John D.       1-202-224-6472  n.a.
      D NE Exon, J. J.                1-202-224-4224  1-202-224-5213
      R AZ McCain, John               1-202-224-2235  1-602-952-8702
      R SD Pressler, Larry            1-202-224-5842  1-202-224-1259
      R WA Gorton, Slade              1-202-224-3441  1-202-224-9393
      R AK Stevens, Ted               1-202-224-3004  1-202-224-1044
      R MS Lott, Trent                1-202-224-6253  1-202-224-2262
      D KY Ford, Wendell H.           1-202-224-4343  1-202-224-0046
      R KS Dole, Robert               1-202-224-6521  1-202-228-1245

2. Send mail to and let us know how it went.

        $ Mail
        Subject: phoned Congress-person XXX
        They thanked me for my opinion and said they had received many
        calls speaking out against net censorship.

        Mail sent!

3. If you run any sort of system that allows a welcome message for all
   users, please add the following:

       Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) and others are lobbying for broad
       infringements on free speech net by passing legislation that "dumb
       down" Internet content to that which is acceptable to children.  In
       addition, services like this one might become liable for what their
       users say and read on the Internet.  Please call Congress now; for
       more info URL: or send mail to with
       "send alert" in the subject line. (12/4/95)

   If you have a Web page that gets a lot of traffic, please add the
   following link:

        Stop Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) from dumbing down online speech!

4. This is a very tense week.  A very very bad bill could be passed.



We are near the end of this year's campaign.  Each chamber of Congress
has passed several different bills, all aimed at regulating your
communications on the Internet.  They range from proposals that
criminalize "indecency" and make service providers liable for the
statements of their users (such as Sen. Exon's and Rep. Hyde's, put
forth by the Christian Coalition), to proposals that encourage parental
control and attempt to draft very narrow criminal statutes for those
that provide "harmful" material to minors. (such as Rep. White's)

You can see a synopsis of each of these in VTW's BillWatch #26 at

The conference committee is voting this week on which proposal to adopt.



In order to use the net more effectively, several organizations have
joined forces on a single Congressional net campaign to stop the
Communications Decency Act.

American Communication Association * American Council for the Arts *
Arts & Technology Society * Association of Alternative Newsweeklies *
biancaTroll productions * Boston Coalition for Freedom of Expression *
Californians Against Censorship Together * Center For Democracy And
Technology * Centre for Democratic Communications * Center for Public
Representation * Citizen's Voice - New Zealand * Cloud 9 Internet
*Computer Communicators Association * Computel Network Services *
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility * Cross Connection *
Cyber-Rights Campaign * CyberQueer Lounge * Dutch Digital Citizens'
Movement * ECHO Communications Group, Inc. * Electronic Frontier Canada
* Electronic Frontier Foundation * Electronic Frontier Foundation -
Austin * Electronic Frontiers Australia * Electronic Frontiers Houston
* Electronic Frontiers New Hampshire * Feminists For Free Expression *
First Amendment Teach-In * Florida Coalition Against Censorship *
FranceCom, Inc. Web Advertising Services * Friendly Anti-Censorship
Taskforce for Students * Hands Off!  The Net * Inland Book Company *
Inner Circle Technologies, Inc. * Inst. for Global Communications *
Internet On-Ramp, Inc. * Internet Users Consortium * Joint Artists' and
Music Promotions Political Action Committee * The Libertarian Party *
Marijuana Policy Project * Metropolitan Data Networks Ltd. * MindVox *
MN Grassroots Party * National Bicycle Greenway * National Campaign for
Freedom of Expression * National Coalition Against Censorship *
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force * National Public Telecomputing
Network * National Writers Union * Oregon Coast RISC * Panix Public
Access Internet * People for the American Way * Republican Liberty
Caucus * Rock Out Censorship * Society for Electronic Access * The
Thing International BBS Network * The WELL * Voters Telecommunications

(Note: All 'Electronic Frontier' organizations are independent entities,
 not EFF chapters or divisions.)

        [End Alert]


Subject: Upcoming events

This schedule lists events that are directly EFF-related. A much more 
detailed calendar of events likely to be of interest to our members and 
supporters is maintained at:

ftp:, /pub/EFF/calendar.eff
gopher:, 1/EFF, calendar.eff

Jan. 17-
     18 * Innovation Now; Oregon Convention Center, Portland Oregon.
          Sponsored by American Electronics Association's Oregon Council,
          et al.  Speakers include EFF chair of the board Esther Dyson.


Subject: Quote of the Day

"The First Amendment represents a conscious and explicit trade-off which
the Founding Fathers made between paternalistic protection from "harmful"
thoughts and free access to information."
  - US Fed. Dist. Judge Leonie M. Brinkema, _RTC_[Church_of_Scientology]_v._
    _Lerma,_DGS,_Washington_Post,_Fisher,_&_Leiby_, Nov. 29, 1995

Find yourself wondering if your privacy and freedom of speech are safe 
when bills to censor the Internet are swimming about in a sea of of 
surveillance legislation and anti-terrorism hysteria?  Worried that in 
the rush to make us secure from ourselves that our government 
representatives may deprive us of our essential civil liberties? 
Concerned that legislative efforts nominally to "protect children" will 
actually censor all communications down to only content suitable for 
the playground?  Alarmed by commercial and religious organizations abusing
intellectual property law to stifle satire, dissent and criticism?

Join EFF!

Even if you don't live in the U.S., the anti-Internet hysteria will soon 
be visiting a legislative body near you.  If it hasn't already.


Subject: What YOU Can Do

* The Communications Decency Act & Other Censorship Legislation

The Communications Decency Act and similar legislation pose serious 
threats to freedom of expression online, and to the livelihoods of system 
operators.  The legislation also undermines several crucial privacy 

Business/industry persons concerned should alert their corporate govt.
affairs office and/or legal counsel.  Everyone should write to their own
Representatives and Senators, and especially the conference committee 
members, asking them to oppose Internet censorship legislation, and 
write to the conference committee members to support the reasonable 
approaches of Leahy, Klink, Cox and Wyden, and to oppose the 
unconstitutional proposals of Exon, Gorton and others.  Urge them to 
accept White's demands that system operators not be held liable for 
crimes they did not commit, that the FCC be barred from regulating the 
Internet, and that *if* your Congressperson is hell-bent on passing some 
restriction, any restriction, on the Net, that he or she vote to pass only a 
"harmful to minors" statute, and condemn any unconstitutional national 
indecency standard. See the first two articles in this newsletter for 
more detailed info.

For more information on what you can do to help stop this and other 
dangerous legislation, see:, /pub/Alerts/, 1/Alerts

If you do not have full internet access, send your request
for information to

* Digital Telephony/Comms. Assistance to Law Enforcement Act

The FBI is now seeking both funding for the DT/CALEA wiretapping provisions,
and preparing to require that staggering numbers of citizens be 
simultaneously wiretappable.  

To oppose the funding, write to your own Senators and Representatives 
urging them to vote against any appropriations for wiretapping. 
To oppose the FBI's wiretapping capacity demands, see the FBI Federal 
Register notice at the end of the second article in this newsletter, which
contains instructions on how to submit formal comments on the ludicrous 
and dangerous proposal.

* Anti-Terrorism Bills

Numerous bills threatening your privacy and free speech have been introduced
this year.  None of them are close to passage at this very moment, but 
this status may change. Urge your Congresspersons to oppose these 
unconstitutional and Big-Brotherish bills.

* The Anti-Electronic Racketeering Act

This bill is unlikely to pass in any form, being very poorly drafted, and 
without much support.  However, the CDA is just as bad and passed with 
flying colors [the jolly roger?] in the Senate. It's better to be safe 
than sorry. If you have a few moments to spare, writing to, faxing, or 
calling your Congresspersons to urge opposition to this bill is a good 
idea. If you only have time to do limited activism, please concentrate 
on the Internet censorship legislation instead. That legislation is far more 
imminent that the AERA.

* Medical Privacy legislation

Several bills relating to medical privacy issues are floating in Congress 
right now. Urge your legislators to support only proposals that *truly* 
enhance the medical privacy of citizens.

More information on this legislation will be available at soon.  Bug to make 
it appear there faster. :)

* Find Out Who Your Congresspersons Are

Writing letters to, faxing, and phoning your representatives in Congress
is one very important strategy of activism, and an essential way of
making sure YOUR voice is heard on vital issues.

EFF has lists of the Senate and House with contact information, as well
as lists of Congressional committees. (A House list is included in this
issue of EFFector). These lists are available at:, /pub/Activism/Congress_cmtes/, 1/EFF/Issues/Activism/Congress_cmtes

The full Senate and House lists are senate.list and hr.list, respectively.
Those not in the U.S. should seek out similar information about their
own legislative bodies.  EFF will be happy to archive any such
information provided.

If you are having difficulty determining who your Representatives are,
try contacting your local League of Women Voters, who maintain a great 
deal of legislative information.

* Join EFF!

You *know* privacy, freedom of speech and ability to make your voice heard
in government are important. You have probably participated in our online
campaigns and forums.  Have you become a member of EFF yet?  The best way to
protect your online rights is to be fully informed and to make your
opinions heard.  EFF members are informed and are making a difference.  Join
EFF today!

For EFF membership info, send queries to, or send any
message to for basic EFF info, and a membership form.



EFFector Online is published by:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation
1550 Bryant St., Suite 725
San Francisco CA 94103 USA
+1 415 436 9333 (voice)
+1 415 436 9993 (fax)
Membership & donations:
Legal services:
General EFF, legal, policy or online resources queries:

Stanton McCandlish, Online Services Mgr./Activist/Archivist (

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End of EFFector Online v08 #19 Digest


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