Fun_People Archive
6 Dec
Last Chance on Censorship Bill

Date: Wed, 6 Dec 95 20:31:23 -0800
From: Peter Langston <psl>
To: Fun_People
Subject: Last Chance on Censorship Bill

Excerpted-from: EFFector Online 08.19
Organization: Electronic Frontier Foundation

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 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:

        <a href="">
        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.

[=] © 1995 Peter Langston []