Fun_People Archive
20 Mar
Exon Bill Action Alert

Date: Mon, 20 Mar 95 01:15:04 PST
From: Peter Langston <psl>
To: Fun_People
Subject: Exon Bill Action Alert

[This is an update to the Feb 20 Fun_People mailing titled: SENATOR EXON
INTRODUCES ONLINE INDECENCY LEGISLATION.  It's democracy in action time again,
folks ... (no, NOT inaction!) and while I'm at it, I'll apologize for the
idiotic actions of Washington's Senator Gorton - I didn't vote for him, but
then again, I only cast one vote against him...  -psl]

Subject: EFFector Online 08.03 - Mar. 20 1995 - Exon Bill Action Alert
Keywords: Exon Exxon S314 S.314 S 314 S. HR1004 H.R.1004 HR 1004 H.R.

Subject: ALERT - Join Us in Opposing Exon Censorship Bill - ACT NOW!

          (Note this is not the electronic "defeat S314" petition)

       Update: - Telecomm Reform bill scheduled for markup Thu 3/23/95
               - Sen. Leahy (D-VT) expresses "serious concerns", seeks
                 alternatives that protect free speech
               - Coalition Internet campaign has an impact

				Mar. 17, 1995

      Distributed by the Voters Telecommunications Watch (


 Yet even more organizations have joined us.  Welcome aboard!

 Next week (Mar 23, 1995) the telecomm reform bill will be marked up in
 the Commerce committee.  If the Communications Decency Act is added to
 the reform bill as an amendment, it will be *very difficult to stop*.
 The result of this bill becoming a law will be to change the nature of
 the Internet as we know it.  The volume of information we take for
 granted will slow to a trickle.

 Win this battle, and we've won the fight for this year and stopped the
 bill.   Lose it and we'll be on the ropes in the Senate for the rest
 of the session.

 Only you can make the difference, and it will only take two minutes.



In order to use the net more effectively, the following organizations
have joined forces on a single Congressional net campaign to stop the
Communications Decency Act, S. 314 (in alphabetical order):

	the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU),
	the American Communication Association (ACA),
	the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT),
	the Center for Public Representation (CPR),
	the Computer Communicators Association (CCA),
	the Computing Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR),
	the CyberQueer Lounge, an online resource for the gay community,
	the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF),
	(Note the above DC-based EFF has no local chapters)
	the Electronic Frontier Foundation-Austin (EFF-Austin),
	the Electronic Frontiers Australia, (EFA)
	the Electronic Frontiers Houston, (EFH)
	the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), 
	the Florida Coalition Against Censorship (FCAC),
	the Hands Off! the Net petition drive, 
	the National Coalition Against Censorship, (NCAC)
	the National Libertarian Party, (NLP),
	the National Public Telecomputing Network (NPTN),
	the National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981 AFL-CIO), (NWU)
	the People for the American Way (PFAW), 
	the Society for Electronic Access (SEA), and
	the Voters Telecommunications Watch (VTW)

These organizations are using the Voters Telecommunications Watch (VTW)
as a conduit for legislative feedback.  When you contact Congress about the
Communications Decency Act and send your feedback to, that
information is being fed back to all participating organizations.

If your organization would like to sign on to this campaign and receive
legislative feedback, contact  (Note the Fidonet and FTN
mailing directions below)



  What you can do
  Current status of S. 314/H.R. 1004
  Where can I learn more about the bill? (URL & Fidonet/FTN included)
  Where will I learn about updates to this alert?
  Current list of participating organizations



1. Contact Sen. Larry Pressler (R-SD, Commerce Committee Chairman),
   Sen. J.J. Exon (D-NE, sponsor of the bill), and Sen. Bob Packwood (R-OR,
   Chairman, Communications Subcommittee).

   Note: although contacting your own Senators is important, these
   members hold the keys at this point in time.  If you want to contact
   your own Senators, that's great, but between now and Thursday Pressler,
   Exon and Packwood are the ones to focus on.

   Time is of the essence: *Phone calls* are best, faxes only partially 
   effective, email has the least impact.

      P ST Name and Address           Phone           Fax
      = == ========================   ==============  ==============
      R SD Pressler, Larry            1-202-224-5842  1-202-224-1259*
            243 RSOB          
            Washington, D.C. 20510
            *Note this is the Senate Commercommittee's fax machine

      D NE Exon, J. J.                1-202-224-4224  1-202-224-5213
            528 HSOB
            Washington, D.C. 20510

      R OR Packwood, Robert           1-202-224-5244  1-202-228-3576
            259 RSOB
            Washington, D.C. 20510

   Urge them to keep S.314 from being incorporated into
   telecommunications reform legislation and to support Senator Leahy's
   efforts to explore alternatives to the Exon bill.  Follow the communique
   at the bottom if you need to.

2. Feel free to use the following communique:


	I'm a resident of _______.  Please support Senator Leahy's
	efforts to explore alternatives to S. 314.  Please keep S. 314
	out of the telecommunications reform bill, and remove S. 314
	from the fast track.


   See below for a brief description of Leahy's initiative. His letter 
   to CDT is in the VTW gopher. 

   Concern over S.314 is not limited to the U.S. Among many international
   expressions of support, two have stood out in the first two weeks.
   EF-Australia is a member of the growing coalition, and IndiaNet has
   circulated our alert widely. If you are not a citizen of the United States
   you can still express your concern. A sample message to Senator Pressler

	Dear Senator Pressler:

	The Exon bill will cripple the U.S. portion of the Internet
	and thereby devastate the growing global information community.
	Internation commerce and social and political cooperation will
	suffer greatly. I urge you to refrain from incorporating S.314
	into any telecommunications reform legislation and to support
	Senator's Leahy initiatives to explore alternatives to S314.

   Both US citizens and non-US citizens should remember to be polite
   when speaking to legislators, even their own.

3. DON'T FORGET TO DROP A NOTE TO VTW@VTW.ORG to tell us who you contacted.
   (See below for FTN -> Internet emailing instructions.)
   We'll tally the results and feed them back to all participating
   organizations.  It's crucial we have this feedback, even if you just
   got a form letter, or a "thank you" to your phone call.

   Please, when you report back, tell us what state you are in!  This
   will help us track constituent calls, which are the most effective. 

4. Feel good about yourself.  You've just participated in democracy
   without leaving your seat. 

5. (Extra bonus activism)  Pass this alert to your friends, especially if
   they're in South Dakota, Nebraska, or Oregon.  These states need to
   have as much constituent contact with their Senators as possible.

   Also, you might send a thank-you note to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) for
   his continuing efforts on behalf of free speech and the free flow of
   information in cyberspace.  He can be reached at:

      P ST Name and Address           Phone           Fax
      = == ========================   ==============  ==============
      D VT Leahy, Patrick J.          1-202-224-4242  1-202-224-3595
            433 RSOB          
            Washington, D.C. 20510

   Don't forget to Cc: on your mail to him, so we can tally
   the response.



Dear Net Citizens:

Legislation has been introduced before the Senate which would severely
restrict your freedom of speech, halt the free flow of information on
the net, and require all telecommunications carriers to censor your
public and private communications.

The "Communications Decency Act of 1995" (S. 314), introduced in early 
February by Senators Exon (D-NE) and Gorton (R-WA), would place 
substantial criminal liability on telecommunications carriers (including 
traditional telephone networks, Internet service providers, commercial 
online services such as America Online and Compuserve, and independent
BBS's) whenever their networks are used to transmit any material 
which is deemed indecent or harassing.  In order to avoid these penalties, 
carriers would be forced to restrict the activities of their subscribers 
and censor all public and private communications.

We must act quickly to stop the progress of S. 314.  The bill may soon 
be incorporated into Senate telecommunications reform legislation, which 
is currently being drafted by the Senate Commerce Committee.  The 
telecommunications reform bill may be introduced as early as mid March, 
and is expected to be considered on a fast track.  If S. 314 is included 
in this bill, it will be extremely difficult to change or remove and 
could pass quickly.

We are asking you to join us in urging key members of the Senate to 
prevent S. 314 from being included in Senate telecommunications reform 
measures and to hold open, public hearings on the issue.



The bill was introduced on February 1, 1995 by Senators Exon (D-NE) and 
Gorton (R-WA).  It is currently pending before the Senate Commerce 
Committee (chaired by Senator Pressler (R-SD)).

No committee action has been scheduled as of March 9, 1995.

The telecommunications reform bill is scheduled for hearing starting
March 21, 1995.  It is possible that S. 314 will be folded into the
bill during markup next week.

H.R. 1004 (worded the same as S. 314) was introduced on February 21,
1995 in the House by Representative Johnson (SD) and has been referred
to the House Commerce and Judiciary committees.

No committee actions in the House have been scheduled as of March 17, 1995.



S. 314 would expand current law restricting indecency and harassment on 
telephone services to all telecommunications providers and expand 
criminal liability to all content carried by all forms of 
telecommunications networks.  The bill would amend Section 223 of the 
Communications Act (47 U.S.C. 223), which requires carriers to take 
steps to prevent minors from gaining access to indecent audiotext and 
criminalizes harassment accomplished over interstate telephone lines.  

If enacted, S. 314 would compel service providers to severely restrict 
your online activities.  Your access to email, discussion lists, usenet, 
the world wide web, gopher, and ftp archives would be substantially 
reduced or cut off entirely. The bill would also force providers to 
closely monitor and pre-screen your electronic mail, and refuse to 
transmit any message or other content which may be considered to be 

This bill poses a significant threat to freedom of speech and the free 
flow of information in cyberspace. The bill also raises fundamental 
questions about the right of government to control content on 
communications networks, as well as the locus of liability for content 
carried in these new communications media.  

Recently, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has requested the Center for
Democracy and Technology's Public Interest/Industry working group IWG
(Interactive Working Group) to explore other solutions to the problems
that S. 314 attempts to solve.  The working group must be allowed to
examine current legislation and explore technical alternatives that are
consistent with the First Amendment and the free flow of information.

We've received over 400 messages in two weeks, with our log showing 
over 700 letters, faxes, phone calls, and email messages (many people 
contacted more than one Senator. At least two respondents wrote all 19 
members of the committee!)  Of course many more people have probably
contacted Congress without sending that note to VTW.

Almost 200 messages went to Pressler, who may be getting the point.
His staff told one caller, "Why are you calling us? It's Exon's bill!"
(This is why phone calls to Pressler are so important.)

One citizen wrote to Senator Gorton, a co-sponsor: 
        "I, frankly, am amazed at the audacity of your proposed 
         bill. We are not children sir, nor do we need your 
         misplaced guidance in raising our children!"

Along the same lines, another wrote to his own Senator: 
        "While I am pleased, being an enthusiastic supporter of 
         anti-harassment legislation, with many of the provisions of
         this bill, I am frankly astounded and appalled with others."

Someone came up with metaphor that frankly we aren't clever enough to
have thought of: 
        "A few years ago, a tanker laden with a crude, noxious substance 
         ran aground in the virginal territories of the Alaskan coastline. 
         It poisoned the land and sea for many miles around.... We are now 
         faced with another 'Exon Valdez'...  a vehicle filled with crude 
         legislation, currently at risk of running ashore on our pristine 

Finally, someone writing to Pressler spoke for all of us to all of us:
	"At a time when communications between ordinary citizens has
         been all but drowned out by the barrage of mass media, online
         communication has become the last bastion of real citizen           
         deliberation and has become the "public square" so to speak, 
         of the nation.  This bill would destroy this great experiment 
         in the rejuvenation of grassroots democracy.  Please do all
         you can to prevent its passage."

We are encouraged by the success so far of the campaign, and hope that
you take the time to participate at this crucial time.



The Voters Telecommunications Watch has set up a gopher page where
you can get a copy of the bill (including analyses by the American
Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the
Electronic Messaging Association, and others).  Here's the URL:

	WWW URL: gopher://
	Gopher command : gopher -p 1/vtw/exon

If you have difficulty getting to this gopher page, or if you don't
have access to Mosaic/gopher, drop a note to:

BBS Network Users:

You can FREQ the files from the EFF BBS, 1:109/1108, 1-202-861-1224.
The "magicword" for a list of relevant files is S314.  You do NOT have to be
nodelisted to get the files, or in any particular network.  Just create a
dummy nodelist entry with our phone number if you need to do so.
Those in QWK nets or otherwise not able to File REQuest can download the
files manually from the BBS, in the ALERTS file area.  Feel free to login
as ANONYMOUS, password GUEST to bypass newuser questionnaires.

To send mail to from FidoNet or other FTN systems, create a
netmail message to your local UUCP host.  Search the nodelist for the
GUUCP flag, and use the address of that system:

 To: UUCP, [GUUCP system's address here.  "To:" name MUST be set to UUCP]
 From: [you]
 Subject: S.314

 [Message starts here on 3rd line.  The second "To:" line with the internet
 email address MUST be the first line of the message body, and the blank
 line following that is REQUIRED.  Mail will not be delivered by the gateways
 without it.]

To email one of the Senators in the list above, just put the Senator's email
address in place of "" in the above example.

If you are unsure whether your FTN has an Internet gateway, or suspect it
may use something other than a GUUCP nodelist flag, ask your network



We will post updates to this alert in three places:

	-On the account (finger
	-On Usenet (,, and alt.privacy)
	-Through our announcements mailing list,

	To subscribe, simply send a message to with the
	following in the message body:

		subscribe vtw-announce Firstname Lastname



At this time, the following organizations have signed onto this
campaign and are receiving the legislative feedback that VTW is compiling:

 American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU),
 American Communication Association  (ACA),
 Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT),
 Center for Public Representation (CPR),
 Computer Communicators Association (CCA),
 Computing Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR),
 CyberQueer Lounge,
 (Note that the DC-based EFF has no local chapters)
 Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF),
 Electronic Frontier Foundation-Austin (EFF-Austin),
 Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA),
 Electronic Frontiers Houston (EFH),
 Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC),
 Florida Coalition Against Censorship (FCAC),
 Hands Off! the Net petition drive,
 National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC),
 National Libertarian Party (NLP),
 National Public Telecomputing Network (NPTN),
 National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981 AFL-CIO),
 People for the American Way (PFAW),
 Society for Electronic Access (SEA),
 Voters Telecommunications Watch (VTW),
Note that the Voters Telecommunications Watch does not speak for these
organizations.  Any opinions contained herein are those of the author,
and not necessarily endorsed by participating organizations.


Subject: EFF Legal Services Need Your Help: The Cyberspace Defense Fund

Over the past couple of months, several legal cases have surfaced that
challenge the very heart of net communications.  The Electronic Frontier
Foundation (EFF), as always, is working to ensure that civil liberties
survive these challenges.

*  EFF has filed a lawsuit suing the State Department and the NSA,
   challenging the current law limiting the export of encryption as being an
   unconstitutional prior restraint on free expression.

*  EFF is filing an amicus brief in support of two California
   sysops convicted of obscenity charges in Memphis when a Tennessee 
   Postal Inspector dialed into their system and downloaded files.

*  EFF has found pro bono counsel for a BBS sysop and an outspoken
   critic of the Church of Scientology to fight against holding system 
   operators liable for the postings of their users.

But even with pro bono counsel, these cases can cost tens of thousands of
dollars in litigation-related expenses, such as long distance telephone
calls, court fees, fed-x charges, airplane tickets, copying, etc.  We need
YOUR help in our fight to protect civil liberties online!  EFF has 
started the Cyberspace Defense Fund to collect money for defending the 
net against such threats to free speech and privacy.

Let's stop these threats to the cyberspace before they spread.  Please 
send us your contribution -- $100, $50, $20, whatever you feel comfortable
giving -- to help us continue this important work.  Send your donation to:

        Cyberspace Defense Fund
        Electronic Frontier Foundation
        1667 K Street, NW, Suite 801
        Washington, DC  20006

And get your friends to donate, too!  We also can accept Visa and
Mastercard.  Call 202/861-7700 if you'd prefer to charge your donation.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, 
and your contribution is 100% tax deductible.  Thank you so much for your 

[=] © 1995 Peter Langston []