The Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition -- http://www.ciec.org


THE FIGHT FOR FREE SPEECH ONLINE LANDS IN THE
SUPREME COURT IN 15 DAYS. JOIN THOUSANDS OF YOUR
FELLOW INTERNET USERS IN A HISTORIC COUNTDOWN

March 4, 1996

Please distribute widely with this banner in tact. Please post only in
appropriate forums. Do not distribute after March 19, 1997



NEWS - COUNTDOWN TO THE SUPREME COURT ARGUMENTS OVER FREE SPEECH ONLINE

The fate of the Internet and the future of the First Amendment in the
information age hang in the balance.

In just two weeks, on March 19th, 1997 at 10:00 am, the United States
Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a legal battle over the
constitutionality of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), a law which
imposes broadcast-style content regulations on the Internet. A decision is
expected in June of 1997.

Will the Supreme Court agree with 2 federal courts that found the
Communications Decency Act unconstitutional, ruling that the Internet is a
unique communications technology that deserves the same First Amendment
protections enjoyed by the print media? Or will the Court side with
Senator Exon, the Justice Department, and the Christian Coalition, who have
argued that the government is the best judge of what material is
appropriate online?

The outcome of this case will have a profound impact on the future of the
Internet as a viable means of free expression, education, and commerce.

JOIN TENS OF THOUSANDS OF YOUR FELLOW NET USERS IN A HISTORIC COUNTDOWN

With your help and support, the entire Internet community will have an
opportunity to join together in the fight for the future of the Net.



INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO PARTICIPATE

In anticipation of this historic event, the Center for Democracy and
Technology (CDT) and the Voters Telecommunications Watch (VTW) have
launched a COUNTDOWN TO THE SUPREME COURT campaign to help spread the news
about the case and provide an opportunity for Internet users to join the
fight.

If You Maintain A World Wide Web Page:

1. Add the following link *TODAY* in a prominent location on your site:


Countdown to<BR> Supreme Court



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.

If You Don't Maintain A World Wide Web Page:

1. Forward this Alert to your friends

2. Visit the Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition page
http://www.ciec.org to keep up to date on the latest news about the
case and information on how you can join the fight to preserve the
future of the Internet as a viable means of free expression,
education and commerce.



HOW WILL THIS CAMPAIGN WORK?

After you have added the link (above) to your page, an animated image
counting down the days until the Supreme Court argument will be displayed
on your site. The image will be updated daily (the update will occur at
our server -- you will not have to do anything).

By clicking on the icon, visitors to your page will jump directly to the
Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition site which contains the latest news
and information on the case, court documents, along with information on how
they can join the fight.

The "Countdown to the Supreme Court" campaign is similar to the "question
mark/fireworks" campaign last June 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 so-called "pornography" on the Internet, two separate Federal
Courts have agreed that the law goes far beyond that and would ban
otherwise constitutionally protected materials.

It is important to note that 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.

Opponents to 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
56,000 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.

The ACLU and CIEC cases will be argued together before the Supreme Court on
March 19, 1997 by CIEC lead attorney Bruce Ennis. A decision is expected
in June.

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 this event, including press inquiries, please contact:

Jonah Seiger, 1.202.637.9800
Communications Director, Center for Democracy and Technology/Citizens
Internet Empowerment Coalition

Shabbir Safdar, +1.718.596.2851
co-founder, Voters Telecommunications Watch
member, Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition

Or Visit http://www.ciec.org/

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