House Passes Library and School Internet Censorship Legislation

Agent Smiley (
Mon, 21 Jun 1999 07:22:41 PDT

----Original Message Follows----
From: Ish <>
Subject: House Passes Library and School Internet  Censorship  Legislation
Date: Sat, 19 Jun 1999 01:14:46 -0400

Activist Mailing List -

Already truth has been censored in  history texts, and is evident in the
silence of the majority of main stream media on issues not favorable to the
US image or corporate profit...What might this legislation do to current
efforts for any activist...with any subject viewed as "harmful"??
Harmful to whom??
I urge you to write your legislators concerning freedom of the internet...
Thank you,

From: Ari Schwartz <>
Subject: Policy Post 5.11 -- House Passes Library and School Internet
  Censorship Legislation

(1) House Passes Library and School Internet Censorship Legislation
(2) Mandatory Filtering Is Unnecessary and Unwise
(3) Senate Committee Marks Up Filtering Bill Next Week: Call Your Senator
(4) Other Internet Censorship Legislation Defeated
(5) Subscription Information
(6) About the Center for Democracy and Technology

** This document may be redistributed freely with this banner intact **
Excerpts may be re-posted with permission of


Congress is rushing to censor the Internet again.  On Thursday, June 17,
the House passed the 'Children's Internet Protection Act' as an amendment
to the juvenile justice bill, which became the legislative equivalent of a
Christmas-tree.  The Internet amendment, offered by Representative Bob
Franks (R-NJ), requires all schools and libraries receiving E-rate funding
to install and use filtering and blocking tools to screen out Internet
content that is obscene, child pornography, or 'harmful to minors.'

At the last minute, in an effort to address constitutional concerns, the
amendment was narrowed to require the filtering of child porn and obscene
(i.e.,  constitutionally unprotected) material all the time, but 'harmful
to minors' material only 'during use by minors.'  What is harmful to minors
is to be defined on the basis of 'contemporary community standards.'

The text of the Franks amendment can be found at

The Senate-passed version of the juvenile justice bill contains no
filtering provision, setting up the need for a House-Senate conference to
reconcile differences between the bills.  The fact that the Senate bill
contains gun control provisions complicates matters.


Parents, local schools and community libraries all over the country are
already developing effective ways to deal with the variety of material
available through the Internet; they do not need Congress telling them how
best to protect children.

The Franks amendment mandates a specific technological approach to
protecting kids online, hindering development and deployment of other
approaches.  Instead of blocking or filtering, 92% of school districts have
already adopted 'acceptable use policies' for use of the Internet by
children, and 59% of those without such policies will have them by the end
of the next school year.  Other technological options are also available,
including tools that warn a child about inappropriate content, tools that
limit use of the Internet to times when children can be chaperoned by
adults, special browsers, tools that monitor a child's use of the
Internet,pre-selected 'greenspaces' of good content, and search engines
designed for children.

While user empowerment tools like filtering and blocking software provide
valuable choices to parents, they are not capable of making precise
determinations of what is obscene or harmful to minors based on a myriad of
local community standards without blocking out appropriate material.
Filtering and blocking software can prevent users from accessing important
information, such as articles against pornography and information on
various forms of cancer, AIDS, or sexual assault.

There is a world of difference between parents' choosing to use filtering
and blocking software to protect their children versus the government's
mandating the use of filters.  Given the overinclusiveness of many filters,
their mandatory use on library computers will inevitably result in adults'
being denied access to constitutionally protected information.

For more information about free speech online, see:


Meanwhile, the Senate is moving forward on filtering legislation.  On June
23 or 24, the Senate Commerce Committee is due to consider S. 97, sponsored
by the Committee's chairman, Senator John McCain (R-AZ).  The bill would
require local schools and libraries receiving e-rate funding to install and
use blocking or filtering software.  Presently, it does not have the
'during use by minors' limitation of the Franks amendment.

Your Senators needs to hear from you.  The most effective and quickest way
to make your voice heard is to call your Senators' Washington offices.  You
can reach the U.S. Senate switchboard at (202) 224-3121.  Ask for your
Senators and tell their offices your concerns about S. 97.

If you feel tongue-tied, you could say something like this: "I'm a
constituent concerned about free speech on the Internet. I oppose federal
efforts to directly or indirectly censor speech on the Web.  S. 97
threatens free speech and the decision-making power of local schools,
libraries and communities by requiring schools and libraries to install
content filters on all their computers, including computers used by adults.
I want to urge my Senator to oppose S. 97."


Entertainment industry leaders, CDT, and other civil liberties groups
helped avert a disaster Thursday by persuading Congress to reject other
censorship amendments to the juvenile justice bill.

One rejected amendment offered by Representative Henry Hyde (R-IL) would
have censored all media, not just the Internet, by criminalizing any sale
or disclosure to children of sexually explicit or violent material that was
deemed 'harmful to minors.'  Like the Child Online Protection Act of 1998,
it would have imposed a national standard and had the effect online of
denying adults access to lawful and useful material.

The text of the Hyde amendment can be found at

Find out how your Member of Congress voted on the Hyde amendment at CDT's
newly expanded voting records database at:

Also defeated was an amendment by Reps. Zach Wamp (R-TN) and Bart Stupak
(D-MI),which would have required labels describing any violent conduct in
all audio and visual material, online and offline.  The amendment would
have given the Federal Trade Commission the power to determine what was an
"appropriate" label and to fine anyone who sold something without a label
providing information 'needed to judge the appropriateness of ... viewing
[or] listening to ... audio and visual media products ... by minors of
various ages."
Reprinted under the fair use
doctrine of international copyright law.
           Tsonkwadiyonrat (We are ONE Spirit)
                      Unenh onhwa' Awayaton

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