CDA lawsuit to protect online "speech" -- Wanna be a plaintiff?
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 96 17:21:45 -0800
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Subject: CDA lawsuit to protect online "speech" -- Wanna be a plaintiff?
[If you're impatient and want to cut to the chase--where you can join the
suit as a plaintiff, check out <http://www.cdt.org/ciec/join_ciec.html>.
Forwarded-by: email@example.com (Keith Bostic)
Forwarded-by: firstname.lastname@example.org (Brett Wynkoop)
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Subject: The battle is joined! Wanna be a plaintiff, too?
We are thrilled to announce that a second lawsuit was filed this morning in
federal court in Philadelphia. The lawsuit (ALA, CIEC et al v. DOJ)
includes an impressive list of plaintiffs-- see below. The lawsuit will be
consolidated with our ACLU v. Reno suit. And YOU can now join in as a
We received a copy of the complaint this morning, and it raises essentially
the same claims as our suit. The complaint is exceptional, and nicely
complements our lawsuit by emphasizing the negative impact of the CDA on
both industry and online users. (The complaint is available at
A coalition representing a broad spectrum of Internet users, publishers,
content providers and access providers filed a lawsuit today (2/26/96) in a
Federal Court in Philadelphia, PA seeking to overturn the recently enacted
Communications Decency Act. The challenge will argue that the Internet is a
unique communications technology which deserves First Amendment
protections at least as broad as those enjoyed as by the print medium.
The group, known as the Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition (CIEC -
pronounced "seek") is coordinated by the Center for Democracy and
Technology, America Online, and the American Library Association, and
others, including People for the American Way. Its 35 members include
libraries, book publishers, newspaper publishers, editors, advertisers,
commercial online service providers, ISP's, non-profit groups, and civil
Individual Internet users are also invited to join the CIEC in the fight to
protect free speech online (see instructions below).
In addition to CIEC, named plaintiffs in the challenge include the American
Library Association, America Online, Compuserve, Prodigy, Microsoft,
NETCOM, The Commercial Internet eXchange,the Newspaper Association of
America, the American Booksellers Association, HotWired and Wired
Magazine, and others (a complete list of plaintiffs and CIEC members is
EDUCATING THE COURT ON THE NATURE OF THE INTERNET AND
ALTERNATIVES TO CENSORSHIP
In a 55 page complaint that details the history of the Internet and
outlines how the network operates, the CIEC intends to educate the court
on how the Internet functions and why the broad content regulations
imposed by the CDA threaten the very existence of the Internet as a
viable medium for free expression, education, and commerce. Among other
things, the CIEC challenge argues that:
* The Internet is a unique communications medium which deserves First
Amendment protections at least as broad as those afforded to print
* Individual users and parents, not the Federal Government, should
determine for themselves and their children what material
comes into their homes based on their own tastes and values.
* The CDA will be ineffective at protecting children from "indecent" or
"patently" offensive material online.
The full text of the CIEC complaint, along with other relevant background
information, and information on how you can participate in this landmark
case, can be found on the CIEC World Wide Web Page:
The CIEC challenge is separate from the case brought by the ACLU, EFF,
EPIC, Planned Parenthood, and several other plaintiffs in the same
Philadelphia court on February 8, 1996. The ACLU effort has made
significant and important headway in the past several weeks. The CIEC case
will reinforce the ACLU's efforts while focusing on the unique nature of
the Internet and alternatives to government content regulations. ACLU and
CIEC attorneys are closely coordinating their efforts, and it is expected
that the courts will eventually consolidate the two cases.
The outcome of the legal challenges to the CDA will likely determine the
legal status of speech on the Internet and the future of the First
Amendment in the Information Age.
INDIVIDUAL INTERNET USERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO JOIN THE FIGHT
CIEC is inviting individual Internet users to join this landmark case to
help protect freedom of speech and the future of the Internet as a viable
means of free expression, education, and commerce.
If you post messages to a public listserv, Usenet newsgroup, participate
in an IRC or chat session, or maintain your own World Wide Web page, ftp
or gopher archive, you could potentially face $250,000 fines or 2 years in
jail if someone, somewhere considers the material you post to be "indecent"
or "patently offensive"
To find out how you can join the fight to protect free expression and the
future of the Internet, please visit the CIEC web page.
Individuals have until March 15 to join the CIEC. Unfortunately, due to
logistic issues and other considerations, requests to join the coalition by
email cannot be processed.
CIEC COALITION MEMBERS AND PLAINTIFFS
The Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition is a large and diverse group of
Internet users, businesses, non-profit groups, and civil liberties
advocates who share the common goals of protecting the First Amendment
and the viability of the Internet as a means of free expression,
education, and commerce. CIEC members believe that parents, not the
United States Government, are the best and most appropriate judges of
what material is appropriate for themselves and their children.
NAMED PLAINTIFFS IN THE CHALLENGE
American Library Association
America Online, Inc.
American Booksellers Association
American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
American Society of Newspaper Editors
Association of American Publishers
Association of Publishers, Editors and Writers
Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition
Commercial Internet eXchange
Compuserve Information Services, Inc.
Families Against Internet Censorship
Freedom to Read Foundation
HotWired Ventures Ltd.
Interactive Digital Software Association
Interactive Services Association
NETCOM On-line Communications Services, Inc.
Newspaper Association of America
Prodigy Services Company, Inc.
Society of Professional Journalists
Wired Ventures Ltd.
OTHER MEMBERS OF THE CITIZENS INTERNET EMPOWERMENT
COALITION. CIEC IS ALSO A NAMED PLAINTIFF IN THE CASE
Americans for Tax Reform
Association of American University Presses, Inc.
Association of National Advertisers
Association of Research Librarians
Center for Democracy and Technology
Coalition for Networked Information
Media Access Project
Microsystems Software, Inc.
National Assoc. of State Universities & Land Grant Colleges
People for the American Way
Recording Industry Association of America
Special Libraries Association
Surfwatch Software, Inc.
University of California Santa Barbara Library
And YOU! (see http://www.cdt.org/ciec/)
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For more information on the CIEC challenge, including the text of the
complaint and information on how you can join the CIEC:
* CIEC World Wide Web Page: http://www.cdt.org/ciec/
* Background Info on the CDA: http://www.cdt.org/cda.html
Center for Democracy and Technology: (v) +1.202.637.9800
Jerry Berman, Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Daniel Weitzner, Deputy Director (email@example.com)
© 1996 Peter Langston