The Communication Decency Act The Fight For

The Communication Decency Act: The Fight For Freedom Of Speech On The Internet Essay, Research Paper

The Communication Decency Act: The Fight For Freedom of Speech on the Internet

The Communication Decency Act is a bill which has insulted our right as

American citizens. It a bill which SHOULD not pass. I’ll share with you how

Internet users are reacting to this bill, and why they say it is


Some individuals disagree with one part of the bill. According to query/z?c104:s.652.enr:, which has the

Communications Decency Act on-line for public viewing,: “Whoever uses an

Internet service to send to a person or persons under 18 years of age……any

comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image,……..or anything offensive as

measured by contemporary community standards, sexual or excretory activities or

organs…..shall be fined $250,000 if the person(s) is/are under 18…….

imprisoned not more than two years…….or both.”

The wording of that section seems sensible. However, if this one little

paragraph is approved, many sites such as the: Venus de Milo site located at:; the Sistine

Chapel at: and

Michelangelo’s David @

could not be accessed and used by anybody under the age of 18. These works of

art and many other museum pictures would not be available. The bill says these

sites show indecent pictures.

The next part of the CDA has everybody in a big legal fit. We, concerned

Internet users, took the writers of this bill to court, and we won.

This part of the bill states: “Whoever….makes, creates, or

solicits………..any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other

communication which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent…….with

intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass another person……by means of an

Internet page……….shall be fined $250,000 under title 18……imprisoned

not more than two years….or both……”

The writer of that paragraph of the bill forgot something. It violates

the constitution. The First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no

law….prohibiting or abridging the freedom of speech……the right of the

people peaceably to assemble…..and to petition the Government…………..”

This bill does exactly that. It says we cannot express our feelings

cleanly. I understand that what may be of interest to me, may be offensive to

others. Many people put up warning signs on their websites stating, “This site

may contain offensive material. If you are easily offended you may not want to

come here.” If the writers of this bill would have listed that as a requirement

there would have been no trouble.

Here is the way I look at it. I think that some things should be

censored on the Internet. Child pornography, for instance, is already illegal,

so it follows that it should also be illegal on the Internet. Besides,

psychologically, it damages the children involved.

Something else that should be banned from the Internet are “hacker”

programs meant to harm other Internet users. Some examples of such programs are

AOHell which can give you access to America On-line for free and E-mail Bomb, or

otherwise harass others using the service (American On-line just passed a bill

that gave them the right to allow users to let them scan their mail for such

harmful things.) Another thing that could be banned are text files which

describe how to complete illegal actions, such as make bombs. The most famous

is the “Anarchist Cook Book,” which shows Internet users some of the above


I also believe that the use of log-ins, passwords, and rating systems on

pages for the Internet are a good idea, and are not violations of our civil

rights. They simply allow the user to choose what they want to see. Some of

these systems are already in use today, along with programs that watch for

obscene and profane keywords, and links to pornographic sites.

What have Internet users learned from the courts? After all was said

and done, we have learned that passing unconstitutional laws like the CDA is not

the exception but the rule these days in Washington, DC.

Next, the people responsible for giving us the CDA are respectable

Republicans and Democrats, not liberals and conservatives. If someone would have

asked an Internet user who is opposed to the CDA to vote for Clinton or Dole

this past fall, they would say, “Wouldn’t that have been like being given a

choice between cancer and heart disease?” In other words, disrespect for the

President and Congress seem appropriate.

Third, the White House recognizes that it is cheaper to pass this bill,

by saying, this is the law. Live with it. Doing this would prove to me this

country is run by politicians who do not care about the people, their rights, or

the law. This bill, if passed, would only prove to me that all the government

cares about is themselves and their money. A great president by the name of

Abraham Lincoln once said, “This country was made for the people, and run by the

people…” America can now only hope, for another man like Lincoln, to step up,

and lead this country, bringing it back to what it used to be.

Also, it is time to focus on the things we need to have in this country,

like building a new society. After World War II and Vietnam, I believe it is the

computer generation’s destiny to rebuild our family and give community abilities

to evolve, solve problems, generate and distribute wealth, promote peace, and

personal security.

Finally, freedom is struggle, by definition. Freedom on the Internet

is not a gift. It’s the space we ourselves own, in the face of the government

and the media, who have seemingly tried to take that space away from us.

CDA will also take away some sites such as: The Library of Congress Card

Catalog, which some say contains “indecent” language. We will not be able to

view such literature as Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, because the CDA says those “classics”

contain offensive material. The act also prevents any sites in existence which

tell teens about safe sex and Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Most on-line

newspapers such as USA TODAY, will have to be blackened out when the monitor’s

screen shows them articles about sex.

“Ignorance is caused by stupidity!” That has become a familiar “battle”

cry of Internet users. The goverment knows hardly nothing about the pride

Internet users take in having their own “world.” That is the stupidity part of

it. The ingnorance is the politicians refusing to listen to us. They do not

want to understand.

Some ways you can help fight this terrible bill would be to march

through Washington, DC on July 30, 1997. Many people have turned their web

pages backgrounds black to show they are protesting. Some display blue ribbons

to show an Internet users’ displeasure with the CDA.

Another way to show you care is to e-mail high political officers. I

have e-mailed the current president (9:23 PM, 11-5-96) Bill Clinton and the

vice-president Al Gore. I have also mailed Bob Dole and Jack Kemp.

On the more local level I have e-mailed Senators: Rick Santorum and

Arlen Specter and Representatives: Jon Fox, Paul Kanjorski, Paul McHale, John

Murtha, Robert Walker, and Curt Weldon. I have mailed: Gov. Tom Ridge, Lt. Gov.

Mark Schweiker and Senators Roy Afflerbach, Gibson Armstrong, Clarence Bell,

David Brightbill, J. Doyle Corman, Daniel Delp, Vincent Fumo, Jim Gerlach,

Stewart Greenleaf, Melissa Hart, F. Joseph Loeper, Roger Madigan, Robert Mellow,

Harold Mowery Jr., John Peterson, James Rhoades, Robert Robbins, Allyson

Schwartz, Joseph Uliana, Noah Wenger, Rep. Lisa Boscola, Rep. Italo Cappabianca

and Rep. Lawrence Curry have been contacted by myself as well. I have e-mailed

Happy Fernandez, a Philadelphia City Councilwoman. The message I sent them is a

smaller version of this one: “To whom it may concern,

I am writing to you about the Communications Decency Act. I believe the

act is unconstitutional. Amendment I states: “Congress shall make no

law……abridging the freedom of speech….” This alone should prohibit this

act. The Communications Decency Act will force many educational Internet sites

to close. I, as a student, use the Information Super Highway for exactly that,

information. It is very helpful to have updated facts and so forth. With the

Communications Decency Act such sites as the Library of Congress Electronical

Card Catalog would be kept away from me because of “indecent” titles. I use the

word indecent in quotation marks because I feel it is being used improperly.

Some other sites, will be closed because of nudity. Such sites as

Michelangelo’s David, because of the “nudity.” There again I use quotations.

Sites informing teenagers such as myself of the dangers of Unprotected Sex and

AIDS, as well as other STD’s will not be allowed to be shown.

I know I may be taking this the wrong way, so I would appreciate

response telling me why this act should pass. I hope you consider what I, and

many others, have been saying.

Thank you for your time, Ryne Crabb ”

Another huge part of this world-wide protest was the Electronic March on

Washington, DC. People, of all ages, who care about the unconstitutionality of

the CDA, went to the White House and made signs, etc. while marching around the

White House’s property. Also, everybody was asked to e-mail the president in

protest. President Clinton got over 10,000 e-mail messages on that day. I

think it opened a lot of eyes.

Black Thursday was another big issue. Over 82% of the Internet’s

websites had a “blackout.” “Yahoo!” the famous search engine also blackened all

of their pages in protest. It was beautiful how many heads were turned. Major

businesses such as AT&T and ESPN also did their part in this battle by making

comments about it to less informed Internet users.

Although there are other things happening in cyberspace, this issue

remains a major problem. Chances are, however, when this piece of legal mess is

settled, happily or not, another will come up. I can almost see what is next on

the list. Some countries are taxing the Internet. Trust me, we do not even WANT

to get into that, yet.

I hope this opened your eyes as to the importance of this fight. We

need to show the government this country still is made for the people, and run

by the people. That is written in the constitution. We do not want to change

the document our forefathers wrote expressing their wishes for our future

generations. That document protects our freedoms. It is important that the

constitution remains intact so that it can preserve all of our freedoms

including use of the Internet as we see fit.


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