FYI: NEW Petition to stop the Exon/Gorton censorship bill (fwd)

1995-06-02

Randy Byers

 ----------
Date: Fri, 19 May 1995 15:47:30 -0400
From: "Shabbir J. Safdar" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: ALERT: Petition to help Leahy stop the Exon censorship bill

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CAMPAIGN TO STOP THE EXON/GORTON COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT

Update:   - Bill is on the Senate floor
     - Please act to help Leahy stop the Exon censorship bill

PEITION TO HELP SENATOR LEAHY STOP THE UNCONSTITUTIONAL
COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT
May 19, 1995

PLEASE WIDELY REDISTRIBUTE THIS DOCUMENT WITH THIS BANNER INTACT
REDISTRIBUTE ONLY UNTIL June 9, 1995
REPRODUCE THIS ALERT ONLY IN RELEVANT FORUMS

Distributed by the Voters Telecommunications Watch (•••@••.•••)

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CONTENTS
        The Time Is Now
        Another Petition?
        What Is Sen. Leahy Proposing?
        How To Sign The Petition
        The Petition Statement
        Signing the petition from Fidonet or FTN systems
        For More Information
        List Of Participating Organizations

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THE TIME IS NOW

HELP SENATOR LEAHY STOP THE EXON COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT

The Senate is expected to on vote the Communications Decency Act (CDA,
a.k.a. the Exon Bill) within the next three weeks.

The Communications Decency Act, in its current form, would severely
restrict your rights to freedom of speech and freedom of expression
online, and represents a grave threat to the very nature and existence
of the Internet as we know it today. Without your help now, the
Communications Decency Act will likely pass and the net may never be
the same again.

Although the CDA has been revised to limit the liability of online
service providers, it would still criminalize the transmission of any
content deemed "obscene, lewd, lacivious, filthy, or indecent,"
including the private communications between consenting adults. Even
worse, some conservative pro-censorship groups are working to amend the
CDA to make it even more restrictive.

Currently, Senator Exon is negotiating with pro-censorship groups and
commercial entities that would be affected by the CDA. The voices of
Internet users must be heard now. We need to demonstrate that we are a
political force to be reckoned with.

In an effort to preserve your rights in cyberspace, Senator Patrick
Leahy (D-VT) has introduced the only legislative alternative to the
Communications Decency Act.  Senator Leahy is willing to offer his bill
as a substitute for the CDA, but needs your support behind his
efforts.

Senator Leahy's legislation would commission a study to examine the
complex issues involved in protecting children from controversial
content while preserving the First Amendment, the privacy rights of
users, and the free flow of information in cyberspace.

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ANOTHER PETITION?

Yes.  With a strong showing of support from the net.community, Senator
Leahy can offer his bill as a substitute for the Communications Decency
Act when the Senate votes on the issue later this month.  Senator Leahy
needs and wants to demonstrate to his colleagues in the Senate that the
net.community is behind him in his efforts. We must rise to the task
and demonstrate that we will not sit idly by as our rights are
threatened.

Senator Leahy, a strong civil liberties advocate, has been the Senate's
most vocal critic of the Exon/Gorton Communications Decency Act, and
has taken a leading role in defending the rights and civil liberties of
Internet users.  Senator Leahy has taken a great political risk in
representing the interests of Internet users on Capitol Hill.  The time
has come for us to show our appreciation and our support for his
efforts.

The previous petition against the Communications Decency Act generated
over 108,000 signatures, and was instrumental in Senator Leahy's
decision to offer his alternative   As the Senate moves to vote on the
CDA, we must act quickly to ensure that our collective voice continues
to be heard.

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WHAT IS LEAHY PROPOSING?

Senator Leahy's bill, S. 714, would direct the Department of Justice
and the Department of Commerce to commence a 5 month study to examine:

* Current law enforcement authority to prosecute the distribution of
  pornography over computer networks;

* Whether any additional law or law enforcement resources are necessary;

* The availability of technological capabilities, consistent with the
  First Amendment and the free flow of information in Cyberspace, to
  protect children from accessing controversial commercial and non-
  commercial content;

* Ways to promote the development and deployment of such technologies.

After conducting the study, the Justice Department must report to Congress
on its findings, and, if necessary, recommend changes in current law.

Leahy's bill represents the only substantive legislative alternative to the
Communications Decency Act, and will buy important time to have a detailed
and rational discussion about the issues involved in protecting children
from controversial content, and avoid the rush to censorship which is
occurring now on the Senate Floor.

Without a strong show of support for Leahy's bill, the Communications
Decency Act is very likely to pass.

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WHAT CAN I DO?

Please Sign the petition in support of Senator Leahy's alternative.
There are two ways to sign:

1. World Wide Web:

        URL:http://www.cdt.org/petition.html

      Please follow all instructions carefully.  Please also put a link
      to this page on your homepage.

2. email:

        send email to •••@••.•••.

      Please provide the following information EXACTLY AS SHOWN.
      INCORRECT SUBMISSIONS CANNOT NOT BE COUNTED!

        Be sure that you make a carriage return at the end of each line

        Your Name
        Your email address
        Are you a US Citizen (yes or no) (** IF NO, skip to last line)
        Your Street Address (** USE ONLY ONE LINE)
        Your City
        Your State
        Your Zip Code (**VERY IMPORTANT)
        Country

PRIVACY POLICY: Information collected during this campaign will not be
used for any purpose other than delivering a list of signers to
Congress and compiling counts of signers from particular states and
Congressional districts.  It will not be reused, sold, rented, loaned,
or available for use for any other purpose.  All records will be
destroyed immediately upon completion of this project.

        --- sample email submission ---

        To: •••@••.•••
        From: •••@••.•••
        Subject: signed

        Every Body
        •••@••.•••
        YES
        1111 State Street, Apt. 31 B
        Any Town
        CA
        94320
        USA

      --- sample email submission ---

Multiple signatures will not be counted, so please only sign once.

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THE PETITION STATEMENT

We the undersigned users of the Internet are strongly opposed to the
"Communications Decency Act" (Title IV of S. 652), which is currently
pending before the Senate. This legislation will severely restrict our
rights to freedom of speech and privacy guaranteed under the
constitution.

Based on our Nation's longstanding history of protecting freedom of
speech, we believe that the Federal Government should have no role in
regulating the content of constitutionally protected speech on the
Internet.

We urge the Senate to halt consideration of the Communications Decency
Act and consider in its place S. 714, the "Child Protection, User
Empowerment, and Free Expression In Interactive Media Study Bill", an
alternative approach offered by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

Signed:

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SIGNING THE PETITION FROM FIDONET OR FTN SYSTEMS

To sign the petition from FidoNet or other FTN systems, create a
netmail message to your local UUCP host.  Search the nodelist for the
GUUCP flag, and use the address of that system:

To: UUCP, [GUUCP system's address here.  "To:" name MUST be set to UUCP]
From: [you]
Subject: signed
 ---------------------------------------------------------------
To: •••@••.•••

        Every Body
        •••@••.•••
        YES
        1111 State Street, Apt. 31 B
        Any Town
        CA
        94320
        USA

[Message starts on 3rd line.  The second "To:" line with the internet
email address MUST be the first line of the message body, and the blank
line following that is REQUIRED.  Mail will not be delivered by the gateways
without it.]

If you are unsure whether your FTN has an Internet gateway, or suspect it
may use something other than a GUUCP nodelist flag, ask your network
coordinators.

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PETITION RATIONALE

We oppose the "Communications Decency Act", sponsored by Senators James
Exon (D-NE) and Slade Gorton (R-WA), for the following reasons:

* It criminalizes the transmission of constitutionally protected speech,
  including the private communications between consenting individuals;

* It would violate privacy rights by protecting system administrators
  who take steps to ensure that their networks are not being used to
  transmit prohibited content, even if those steps include reading all
  messages, in violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act
  (ECPA).

* It fails to account for the unique characteristics of interactive
  media, including the tremendous control users have over the content
  they or their children receive.

* It would give the Federal Communications Commission jurisdiction over
  online speech by giving the FCC authority to establish rules
  governing the distribution of content online;

The Internet and other interactive communications technologies offer a
unique opportunity for the free exchange of information and ideas, and
embody the very essence of our nation's democratic traditions of
openness, diversity and freedom of speech.

As users of these technologies, we know perhaps better than anyone that
there are other, less restrictive ways to protect children from
controversial materials while preserving the First Amendment and the
free flow of information.

Senator Leahy's bill provides an opportunity to address the issues
raised by the Communications Decency Act without restricting the free
speech and privacy rights of users.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION

Petition updates will be posted to appropriate newsgroups and other
forums on a regular basis.

To have the latest status report sent to you automatically, send email
to:  •••@••.•••

If you have specific questions, or if you are interested in mirroring
the petition page, contact Jonah Seiger <•••@••.•••>

Other petition related information can be found on the CDT petition
page.

  URL:http://www.cdt.org/petition.html

For More information on the Communications Decency Act issue:

Web Sites

        URL:http://www.cdt.org/cda.html
        URL:http://www.eff.org/pub/Alerts/
        URL:http://www.panix.com/vtw/exon/

FTP Archives

        URL:ftp://ftp.cdt.org/pub/cdt/policy/freespeech/00-INDEX.FREESPEECH
        URL:ftp://ftp.eff.org/pub/Alerts/

Gopher Archives:

        URL:gopher://gopher.eff.org/11/Alerts
        URL:gopher://gopher.panix.com/11/vtw/exon

Information By auto-reply email:

If you don't have www/ftp/gopher access, you can get up-to-date
information from the following autobots:

General information on the CDA issue            •••@••.•••
Current status of the CDA issue                 •••@••.•••
Chronology of events of the CDA issue           •••@••.••• with the
                                                subject "send events"

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LIST OF PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATIONS

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.

In alphabetical order:

Californians Against Censorship Together         •••@••.•••
Center For Democracy And Technology (CDT)              •••@••.•••
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)                   •••@••.•••
Feminists For Free Expression (FFE)                     •••@••.•••
Florida Coalition Against Censorship          •••@••.•••
Hands Off! The Net                               •••@••.•••
National Libertarian Party                •••@••.•••

National Public Telecomputing Network (NPTN)          •••@••.•••
National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981 AFL-CIO)   •••@••.•••
Panix Public Access Internet                         •••@••.•••
People for the American Way                      •••@••.•••
Society for Electronic Access                           •••@••.•••
The WELL                                              •••@••.•••
Voters Telecommunications Watch (VTW)                   •••@••.•••

If you would like to add your organization to this list, contact Shabbir
Safdar at VTW <•••@••.•••>

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