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         Please distribute this alert intact until July 15, 1997
               Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition

SUPREME COURT SET TO RULE ANY DAY NOW IN CDA CASE The future of the Internet and the fate of the First Amendment in the information Age hang in the balance. Within the next 4 weeks, the United States Supreme Court will hand down an historic decision in the legal challenge to the Communications Decency Act (CDA) - a law which imposes broad content regulations on the Internet. A decision could come AT ANY TIME. Will the Supreme Court agree with a decision of a Philadelphia Federal Court which last year ruled the CDA unconstitutional? Or will the Court side with Senator Exon, the Department of Justice, the Christian Coalition, and other proponents of censorship who argue that the Federal Government is the best and most appropriate judge of what you should see and say online? As an Internet user, you have a tremendous stake in the outcome. JOIN TENS OF THOUSANDS OF YOUR FELLOW INTERNET USERS TO ANNOUNCE THE DECISION IN REAL TIME It's not too late to become a part of history. There are several ways you can participate -- Please take a moment to read the instructions below and join the fight for free speech online.
INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO PARTICIPATE In anticipation of this historic event, the Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition have launched the "FREE SPEECH VIGIL" campaign to help spread the news about the case and provide an opportunity for Internet users to join the fight. The campaign is an extension of the highly successful "Question Mark" campaign previously coordinated by the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) and the Voters Telecommunications Watch (VTW) which drew over 10,000 participants. The CIEC is also seeking your support in other ways. Please read the instructions below or visit http://www.ciec.org/ for details on how you can help. If You Maintain A World Wide Web Page: 1. Add the following link *TODAY* in a prominent location on your site. When the decision is announced by the Supreme Court, follow your page's link and read the text of the Supreme Court's opinion. Since June of 1996, more than 10,000 world wide web sites have joined together to provide Internet users with the latest news and information about the case. If you have already linked to the CIEC icon or do not maintain a world wide web page, please visit http://www.ciec.org/action/ to find out what you can do to help. 2. IMPORTANT -> Let us know you have joined the campaign: Drop us a note at and let us know you have added the link to your site. We will keep a running tally of the number of participating sites. 3. Forward this Alert to your Friends and co-workers (only until July 15, 1997) HELP CIEC STAY ONLINE! Finally, we need your support to continue to provide the most comprehensive, up-to-date online resource on the fight for free speech on the Internet. Please visit http://www.ciec.org/fund/ to find out what you can do to contribute to the cause.
HOW WILL THIS CAMPAIGN WORK? After you have added the link (above) to your page, an animated image will be displayed on your site. The image will be updated to reflect the latest news on the case (the update will occur at our server -- you will not have to do anything). When the decision is announced by the Supreme Court, the icon will change to reflect the outcome (good or bad). By clicking on the image, Internet users will jump to a page containing the text of the decision, analysis, and other important information. This effort is an extension of the highly-successful "question mark/fireworks" campaign in June of 1996 announcing the decision in the Philadelphia case. Both campaigns were organized by the Center for Democracy and Technology http://www.cdt.org and the Voters Telecommunications Watch http://www.vtw.org.
BACKGROUND ON THE COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT The Communications Decency Act (CDA) was enacted in February of 1996 as part of the Telecommunications Reform Act. The law seeks to protect minors from objectionable or sexually explicit material on the Internet by imposing broad content regulations and stiff criminal penalties on the "display" of "indecent" or "patently offensive" material on the Internet. While supporters of the CDA argue that the law is designed to protect children from "pornography" on the Internet, two separate Federal Courts have agreed that the law goes far beyond that and would ban otherwise constitutionally protected materials. The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case on March 19, 1997. CIEC lead attorney Bruce Ennis argued the case on behalf of both the CIEC and ACLU plaintiffs. The CDA is not about obscenity, child pornography, or using the Internet to stalk or prey on children. These activities are already illegal under current law and are not at issue in this case. CIEC and other opponents of the new law argue that while well intentioned, the CDA fails to account for the unique nature of the Internet, and that it will have a far-reaching chilling effect on constitutionally protected speech online. On a global, decentralized communications medium like the Internet, the only effective and constitutional means of controlling access to objectionable material is to rely on users and parents, not the government, to decide what material is or is not appropriate. On the Internet, every single user is a publisher with the capacity to reach millions of people. As a result, all of us have a stake in the outcome of this case. Two lawsuits were filed to challenge the constitutionality of the CDA in a Philadelphia federal court in February 1996. The cases have been brought, respectively, by The Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition (CIEC), comprised of the American Library Association. civil Liberties groups, Internet Service Providers, Commercial Online Service Providers, Newspaper, Magazine and Book Publishers, and over 57,000 individual Internet users. The ACLU, along with a coalition of civil liberties groups, advocacy groups, online content providers, and others filed the initial case on the day the CDA was signed into law. Detailed information on the legal challenges, as well as information about the CDA, is available at the following web sites: Legal Challenges To The CDA ---------------------------- * The Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition (CIEC) - http://www.ciec.org/ * The ACLU - http://www.aclu.org/ The outcome of this legal battle will have far reaching implications. At stake is nothing less than the future of the First Amendment in the information age.
FOR MORE INFORMATION For more information on the Free Speech Vigil, including press inquiries, please contact: Jonah Seiger, +1.202.637.9800 Communications Director, Center for Democracy and Technology/Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition Or Visit http://www.ciec.org/

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