TBTF Bulletin: Communications Decency Act overturned
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Wed, 12 Jun 96 14:52:27 -0700
Subject: TBTF Bulletin: Communications Decency Act overturned
[Yes! Okay, okay, I'm repeating myself... it's worth it. -psl]
Forwarded-by: email@example.com (Keith Dawson)
[I received this note on David Bennahum's Community Memory mailing list.
It's history in the making. -- KDawson]
- - - - - - - -
This morning at 9:00 a.m. EST a three-judge panel in Philadelphia ruled
that the Communications Decency Act violates the principles of the First
and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, and
overturned the law. A full text of the decision is available at:
It is a remarkable document [~250K] which describes the origins of the
Internet, and the technology which makes the Internet possible, in plain,
clear English. The word cyberspace is used extensively. The decision then
goes on to conclude that the CDA is unconstitutional in the United States.
What follows is an excerpt of the conclusion, written by Judge Dalzell:
"Cutting through the acronyms and argot that littered the hearing
testimony, the Internet may fairly be regarded as a never-ending worldwide
conversation. The Government may not, through the CDA, interrupt that
conversation. As the most
participatory form of mass speech yet developed, the Internet deserves the
highest protection from governmental intrusion.
True it is that many find some of the speech on the Internet to be
offensive, and amid the din of cyberspace many hear discordant voices that
they regard as indecent. The absence of governmental regulation of
Internet content has unquestionably produced a kind of chaos, but as one of
plaintiffs' experts put it with such resonance at the hearing:
What achieved success was the very
chaos that the Internet is. The
strength of the Internet is that
Just as the strength of the Internet is chaos, so the strength of our
liberty depends upon the chaos and cacophony of the unfettered speech the
First Amendment protects.
For these reasons, I without hesitation hold that the CDA is
unconstitutional on its face.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA"
© 1996 Peter Langston