Protest Unconstitutional Bill
Feb 05, 1996 04:45 PM
by Don DeGracia
I am postng this mainly for members of the TS with Web pages. The U.S. Congress
has just passed a Bill - the Communications Decency Act (part of the
Telecommuncations Reform Bill) - which makes it illegal to swear, discuss sex,
or show pictures of the nude human body on the internet. This means that the
content of books such as "Catcher In the Rye" are now illegal on the internet,
for example. This very letter is now illegal by Federal Law because I am going
to say a swear word: shit. See, this letter is now illegal and I could be put
in jail for up to 2 years, or pay a fine of $100,000 simply because I said the
word "shit" in this message.
Clearly, this action by the U.S. Congress completely violates our First
Amendment Right to Freedom of Speech.
For Theosophists in the USA, to whom freedom of thought is a central belief, you
should be highly concerned about this action by Congress.
The following message is for a World-wide protest of the U.S. Congress' actions
to be held on the WWW. If you have a Web page, please read the following and
If you want more information about the Communications Decency Act, read the
following and consult the sources within it.
Thank you for your time with this matter.
> Date: Sun, 4 Feb 1996 17:58:59 -0500 (EST)
> From: "Shabbir J. Safdar" <shabbir@VTW.ORG>
> Subject: ALERT: 48 Hours of Protest: turn your WWW pages black (2/4/96)
JOIN HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF OTHER INTERNET USERS IN
* 48 HOURS OF PROTEST *
AFTER PRESIDENT CLINTON SIGNS THE BILL THAT WILL CENSOR THE INTERNET
Update: -Latest News: Congress passed the net censorship language
-What You Can Do Now: Help demonstrate the extent of the
impact of the Internet Censorship legislation. Join
Hundreds of thousands of Internet Users in an
International protest for 48 hours after Clinton
Signs the bill.
CAMPAIGN TO STOP THE UNCONSTITUTIONAL COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT
Feb 3, 1996 (expires Feb 29, 1996)
PLEASE WIDELY REDISTRIBUTE THIS DOCUMENT WITH THIS BANNER INTACT
This alert and coalition coordinated by the
Voters Telecommunications Watch (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Latest News
What You Can Do Now
Chronology of the CDA
For More Information
List Of Participating Organizations
THE LATEST NEWS
Last week Congress approved sweeping restrictions on online speech and
conduct, imposing fines of $250,000 and jail sentences of 2 years for
anyone who makes "indecent" material available in a public forum online.
This legislation threatens the very existence of the Internet as a viable
means of free expression, education, and political discourse.
Despite loud objections from civil liberties groups and the public,
the measure is part of a massive telecommunications bill that President
Clinton has already pledged to sign. Although you should feel free to
continue to express your objections directly to the President, there are
other ways to express our outrage for this legislation. The President
is expected to sign this bill into law during the week of Feb 5-9, 1996.
For 48 hours after Clinton signs the Telecommunications Reform bill into law,
join hundreds of thousands of Internet users everywhere to show the far
reaching impact this bill will have on all Internet users. TURN YOUR
WORLD WIDE WEB PAGES BLACK with white lettering to demonstrate that the
Internet will not accept this kind of second class treatment from the
United States Government.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW
1. For 48 hours after Clinton signs the net censorship language in the
Telecomm bill into law, TURN YOUR WORLD WIDE WEB PAGES BLACK with
white lettering. To know when the bill is signed, check these
Email:email@example.com (watch for mail on this list)
You can also just watch CNN; they'll announce the signing of the bill.
To turn your pages black with white lettering, simply add the following
tag to your World Wide Web pages:
<BODY BGCOLOR="#000000" TEXT="#FFFFFF">
Put this right after your <head></head> tags, and before any </body> tags.
To explain to people who may be confused by the color change, temporarily
add the following link to your page:
<a href="http://www.vtw.org/speech/">My World Wide Web Pages are
black for 48 hours to protest second-class treatment from the
US Government for free speech. Read about it at this WWW
The Center for Democracy and Technology has also agreed to mirror a
similar page at URL:http://www.cdt.org/speech.html
If your pages get lots of hits from services that cache their pages like
America Online, you may wish to start turning your pages black early.
Please try and wait though until Clinton signs the bill, for maximum
Also, urge your Internet Provider and any Internet WWW pages you
frequent to turn their pages black. Send us interesting sites that
comply to firstname.lastname@example.org.
$ Mail email@example.com
Subject: ZTV.COM is turning their pages black!
I'm the head of the ZTV Website and I've decided to turn our
pages black. Thought you'd like to know.
2. Don't forget to send Clinton a message, contact him at:
You're about to sign a bill into law that imposes a terrible
set of speech restrictions on the Internet that belong in the
broadcast medium, not the interactive one.
I'm turning my World Wide Web pages BLACK for 48 hours after you
sign the bill as a symbol of protest to show how many people will
be affected by this bill.
It is unlikely that he will veto the bill.
3. Make a commitment become involved! There will be several court cases
coming up to challenge the Internet censorship legislation, as well as
an election that will put every single member of the House, and 1/3rd
of the Senate (most of whom voted for this legislation) onto the ballot.
Don't let them get away with this. Make this a campaign issue, and
keep an eye out for legal defense funds for those challenging these
laws in court.
CHRONOLOGY OF THE COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT
Feb 1, '96 The House and Senate pass the Telecomm Bill (S652/HR1555)
414-16 and 91-5.
Jan 31, '96 The House and Senate prepare to signoff on the conference
report for the Telecomm bill and rush a vote to the floor.
Dec 7, '95 The House half of the Telecomm conference committee
votes the "indecency" standard for online speech into
the Telecomm Deregulation bill.
Sep 26, '95 Sen. Russ Feingold urges committee members to drop
Managers Amendment and the CDA from the Telecommunications
Aug 4, '95 House passes HR1555 which goes into conference with S652.
Aug 4, '95 House votes to attach Managers Amendment (which contains
new criminal penalties for speech online) to
Telecommunications Reform bill (HR1555).
Aug 4, '95 House votes 421-4 to attach HR1978 to Telecommunications
Reform bill (HR1555).
Jun 30, '95 Cox and Wyden introduce the "Internet Freedom and Family
Empowerment Act" (HR 1978) as an alternative to the CDA.
Jun 21, '95 Several prominent House members publicly announce their
opposition to the CDA, including Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA),
Rep. Chris Cox (R-CA), and Rep. Ron Wyden (D-OR).
Jun 14, '95 The Senate passes the CDA as attached to the Telecomm
reform bill (S 652) by a vote of 84-16. The Leahy bill
(S 714) is not passed, but is supported by 16 Senators
who understand the Internet.
May 24, '95 The House Telecomm Reform bill (HR 1555) leaves committee
in the House with the Leahy alternative attached to it,
thanks to Rep. Ron Klink of (D-PA). The Communications
Decency Act is not attached to it.
Apr 7, '95 Sen. Leahy (D-VT) introduces S.714, an alternative to
the Exon/Gorton bill, which commissions the Dept. of
Justice to study the problem to see if additional legislation
(such as the CDA) is necessary.
Mar 23, '95 S314 amended and attached to the telecommunications reform
bill by Sen. Gorton (R-WA). Language provides some provider
protection, but continues to infringe upon email privacy
and free speech.
Feb 21, '95 HR1004 referred to the House Commerce and Judiciary committees
Feb 21, '95 HR1004 introduced by Rep. Johnson (D-SD)
Feb 1, '95 S314 referred to the Senate Commerce committee
Feb 1, '95 S314 introduced by Sen. Exon (D-NE) and Gorton (R-WA).
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Web Sites (roughly in alphabetical order)
firstname.lastname@example.org (General CDA information)
email@example.com (Current status of the CDA)
LIST OF PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATIONS AND BUSINESSES
In order to use the net more effectively, several organizations have
joined forces on a single Congressional net campaign to stop the
Communications Decency Act. Because the list is so long, we've been
forced to omit many fine organizations. See the VTW Free Speech Web Page
at URL:http://www.vtw.org/speech/ for the whole list.
Public Interest Organizations Businesses
Voters Telecommunications Watch (VTW) | ECHO (www.echonyc.com)
| Hotwired (www.hotwired.com)
Center For Democracy And Technology (CDT) | Mindvox (www.phantom.com)
Center for Public Representation (CPR) | Panix (www.panix.com)
Computer Professionals for | The WELL (www.well.com)
Social Responsibility (CPSR) | Wired (www.wired.com)
Cyber-Rights Campaign +-------------------------
Electronic Fronter Foundation (EFF),
and independent regional Electronic
Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
Feminists for Free Expression Hands! Off The Net
Internet Users Consortium (IUC) Joint Artists' and Music
The Libertarian Party (LP) Promotions Political Action
National Campaign for Freedom of Expression Committee (JAMPAC)
National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) National Gay and Lesbian
National Writers Union (NWU) Task Force (NGLTF)
People for the American Way (PFAW) Republican Liberty Caucus
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