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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: March ::
E-Mail Censorship (Cross-Posted)
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0192.  Thursday, 9 March 1995.
 
From:           Michael Swanson <
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 >
Date:           Wednesday, 8 Mar 1995 23:54:53 -0500
Subject:        E-mail censorship
 
[This message appeared on ARTMGT-L<ARTMGT-L%
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 >
--HMC]
 
 
   PLEASE WIDELY REDISTRIBUTE THIS DOCUMENT WITH THIS BANNER INTACT
                     DO NOT REDISTRIBUTE AFTER MAY 1, 1995
                                Feb. 22, 1995
             [updated Mar. 3 to include House version's bill number]
 
      Distributed by the Voters Telecommunications Watch (
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 )
          and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (
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 )
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
[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 & H.R. 1004 (in alphabetical order):
 
        the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU),
        the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT),
        the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF),
        the Electronic Frontier Foundation-Austin (EFF-Austin),
        (Note that EFF-Austin is not a chapter of the DC-based EFF)
        the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC),
        the Hands Off! the Net petition drive,
        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 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 , that
 information is being fed back to all participating organizations.
 
 If your organization would like to signon to this campaign and receive
 legislative feedback, contact 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 .
 
 -Shabbir]
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
CONTENTS
        Introduction
        What you can do
        Contact Information
        Background
        Current status of S. 314
        Where can I learn more about the bill? (URL included)
        Where will I learn about updates to this alert?
        Current list of participating organizations
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
INTRODUCTION
 
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.
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
WHAT YOU CAN DO (IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES)
 
 
 
1. Contact Sen. Larry Pressler (R-SD, Commerce Committee Chairman),
   Sen. Bob Packwood (R-OR) and Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-SC, ranking
   member) and urge them to keep S.314 from being incorporated into
   telecommunications reform legislation.  You'll find their addresses,
   phone numbers, and fax numbers below.
 
   Also, if you live in:
 
        AK AZ HI KY LA MA ME MO MS MT ND NE NV OR SC SD TX WA WV
 
   you should also contact your own Senator from the Commerce committee.
   Remember, the best and most effective means of influencing a member of
   Congress is to write a letter in your own words.
 
2. Write/Fax/Email them a letter or make a phone call.  Try to mention
   as as many of the points below (marked with a *) as you can fit
   politely into communication.
 
3. DON'T FORGET TO DROP A NOTE TO 
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  to tell us who you contacted.
   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.
 
4. Feel good about yourself.  You've just participated in democracy
   without leaving your seat.
 
5. (Extra bonus activism) Reproduce this alert with the expiration date
   and contact information intact to other non-Usenet places.  Fax it
   to your friends, post a copy to your local bulletin board.  Please don't
   spam it to places like rec.pets.cats, but place it in places where people
   who don't read a lot of Usenet might see it.  Non-net connected BBSs are
   great, as are physical bulletin boards.  Please don't post it to email
   lists or newsgroups not related to politics, as this will annoy people.
 
   Most especially, try to reach people in the larger online services,
   such as America OnLine and Compuserve and the large PC networks, such
   as Fidonet.
 
When writing a letter or making a phone call, try to include the following
points in your message:
 
*       S. 314 must not be incorporated into the Senate telecommunications
        reform bill.
 
*       The bill would force communications service providers to limit or
        remove my access to file archives, discussion forums, and
        electronic mail.
 
*       S. 314 would dramatically restrict the free flow of information
        through out the online world and limit the free speech and privacy
        rights of individual users.
 
*       Placing criminal liability on communications service providers
        will force providers to censor the activities of their
        subscribers.
 
*       As a user of interactive communications technologies, I am capable
        of deciding for myself and for my children what content I wish to
        receive.  The government should not be involved in deciding what
        kinds of content I may access.
 
*       Public hearings must be held to consider possible technological
        means and policy alternatives to government content restrictions
        in interactive media.
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
CONTACT INFORMATION
 
Here are the Commerce committee members.  Please contact Sen. Larry
Pressler (the Committee Chairman) and Sen. Ernest Hollings at a minimum.
If you see your state listed below, contact your own senator as well.
 
All addresses are Washington, D.C. 20510
 
      P ST Name and Address           Phone           Fax
      = == ========================   ==============  ==============
      R SD Pressler, Larry            1-202-224-5842  1-202-224-1259*
            243 RSOB                    
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            *Note this is the Commerce Committee's fax number
 
      D SC Hollings, Ernest F.        1-202-224-6121  1-202-224-4293
            125 RSOB
 
      R OR Packwood, Robert           1-202-224-5244  1-202-228-3576
            259 RSOB
 
      D HI Inouye, Daniel K.          1-202-224-3934  1-202-224-6747
            722 HSOB
 
      R AK Stevens, Ted               1-202-224-3004  1-202-224-1044
            522 HSOB
 
      D KY Ford, Wendell H.           1-202-224-4343  1-202-224-0046
            173A RSOB                   
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      R AZ McCain, John               1-202-224-2235  1-202-228-2862
            111 RSOB
 
      D NE Exon, J. J.                1-202-224-4224  1-202-224-5213
            528 HSOB
 
      R MT Burns, Conrad R.           1-202-224-2644  1-202-224-8594
            183 DSOB
 
      D WV Rockefeller, John D.       1-202-224-6472  1-202-224-1689
            109 HSOB
 
      R WA Gorton, Slade              1-202-224-3441  1-202-224-9393
            730 HSOB                    
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      D MA Kerry, John F.             1-202-224-2742  1-202-224-8525
            421 RSOB
 
      R MS Lott, Trent                1-202-224-6253  1-202-224-2262
            487 RSOB
 
      D LA Breaux, John B.            1-202-224-4623  1-202-224-2435
            516 HSOB
 
      R TX Hutchison, Kay Bailey      1-202-224-5922  1-202-224-0776
            703 HSOB                    
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
 
      D NV Bryan, Richard H.          1-202-224-6244  1-202-224-1867
            364 RSOB
 
      R ME Snowe, Olympia             1-202-224-5344  1-202-224-6853
            176 RSOB
 
      D ND Dorgan, Byron L.           1-202-224-2551  1-202-224-1193
            713 HSOB
 
      R MO Ashcroft, John             1-202-224-6154  1-202-224-7615
            170 RSOB
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
CURRENT STATUS OF S. 314
 
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 February 21, 1995.
 
It may be included in the Senate telecommunications reform legislation,
expected to be introduced by mid-March.
 
A House of Representatives version of the bill has also been introduced with
almost identical text, as H.R. 1004.
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BACKGROUND
 
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 indecent.
 
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.
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BILL? (URL INCLUDED)
 
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.panix.com/11/vtw/exon
        Gopher command : gopher -p 1/vtw/exon gopher.panix.com
 
If you have difficulty getting to this gopher page, or if you don't have access
to Mosaic/gopher, drop a note to:
 
        
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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
WHERE WILL I LEARN ABOUT UPDATES TO THIS ALERT?
 
We will post updates to this alert in three places:
 
        -On the account 
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  (finger 
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 )
        -On Usenet (comp.org.eff.talk, comp.org.cpsr.talk, and alt.privacy)
        -Through our announcements mailing list, 
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 .
 
        To subscribe, simply send a message to 
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  with the
        following in the message body:
 
                subscribe vtw-announce Firstname Lastname
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
CURRENT LIST OF PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATIONS
 
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), 
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 Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), 
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 Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), 
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 Electronic Frontier Foundation-Austin (EFF-Austin), 
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 (Note that EFF-Austin is not a chapter of the DC-based EFF)
 Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), 
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 Hands Off! the Net petition drive, 
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 People for the American Way (PFAW), 
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 Society for Electronic Access (SEA), 
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 Voters Telecommunications Watch (VTW), 
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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.
 

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