Portions of the Communications Decency Act, which criminalized information on the internet which was "indecent" or "patently offensive" if the provider did not effectively block access to the information by people under the age of 18.
Do you ADVOCATE giving CHILDREN access to SMUT???!!!
No. I advocate parents' rights to decide how to raise their children, and to decide what is appropriate material for their children.
So what was SO WRONG about this law?
I understand the intent.
Parents wanted the government to shield their children from information they found objectionable.
What was wrong was criminalizing speech across the board to protect children.
What was wrong was putting vague limits on peoples' first amendment rights.
Oh, come ON! We know what's offensive and what's not!
Some see Robert Mapplethorpe's work as art, some see it as pornography.
Some see discussion of gay and lesbian issues as offensive.
The reference to "sexual or excretory activities or organs" did not contain an exception for medical or scientific information.
This law CRIMINALIZED, with penalties of up to TWO YEARS IN PRISON and a QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS, a large amount of information.
OK, but why not err on the side of caution? For the children's sake?
If the Internet was primarily for children's education and information, this would be a reasonable request.
The Internet is no such thing.
The Internet has evolved into an unprecedented forum for publishing.
Companies may advertise their products.
Scientists may publish their research.
For a modest sum, individuals can now be published world wide.
This is a REMARKABLE opportunity for individuals to share opinion, art, literature.
Yes, children might use the Internet for education and entertainment, but that is not the Internet's primary purpose.
But isn't it easy to limit access by children?
In a word, NO.
Yes, commercial sites can put limits on who can access their information, by having subscriptions.
Even so, minors may circumvent the security, either by getting passwords, or by finding holes in the security.
This law made the information providers criminals if the minors broke in!
Further, INDIVIDUALS do not usually have the ability to add the necessary security to their pages.
This law therefore LIMITED what INDIVIDUALS could say on their web pages.
This is a CLEAR violation of the fundamental right to free speech.
So what about the CHILDREN?
I make my appeal to parents.
If you are willing to pay about two thousand dollars to buy your child a computer;
If you are willing to get your child his or her own phone line;
If you are willing to pay monthly for your child to have access to the Internet;
Please be willing to supervise your own child.
There are products on the market which help to filter information.
Major providers like America Online offer a means to restrict your child's access.
Empower yourself to raise your own child.
For more information on the defeat of portions of the Communications Decency Act, see: