This page is now lavender to signify the brightening prospects for freedom indicated by the decision of the USA's highest court. Read the decision here.
Digital Doomsday Clock
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from http://www.ciec.org/: Spreme Court Rules CDA Unconstitutional
[Thursday June 26 1997] "The (Communications Decency Act) is a content-based regulation of speech. The vagueness of such a regulation raises special First Amendment concerns because of its obvious chilling effect on free speech." "The CDA, casting a far darker shadow over free speech, threatens to torch a large segment of the Internet community." -- Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the majority
The Supreme Court today ruled unanimously that the Communications Decency Act violates the First Amendment. Writing for the court, Justice John Paul Stevens held that "the CDA places an unacceptably heavy burden on protected speech" and found that all provisions of the CDA are unconsitutional as they apply to "indecent" or "patently offensive" speech. In a separate concurrence, Chief Justice William Rhenquist and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor agreed that the provisions of the CDA are all unconsitutional except in their narrow application to "communications between an adult and one or more minors."
The effort to eliminate the CDA using the judicial system has had a great sucess. The very positive decision is now available. Some interesting quotes on/from the decision:
Date: Thu, 13 Jun 1996 14:07:11 -0400 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: Duncan Frissell <email@example.com> "We're sitting here watching the sun rise for the first time and we've never even seen the sun" -- Rush Limbaugh about the Internet on today's show. Rush also opined that it was impossible to regulate. DCF
Date: Wed, 12 Jun 1996 11:08:02 -0400 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: Duncan Frissell <email@example.com> Subject: Kaos vs Control With apologies to Maxwell Smart... Note the most important part of the decision. The embrace of chaos by the Chief Judge of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals: "Just as the strength of the Internet is chaos, so the strength of our liberty depends upon the chaos and cacophony of the unfettered speech the First Amendment protects. "For these reasons, I without hesitation hold that the CDA is unconstitutional on its face." Chaos wins again. DCF
Date: Wed, 12 Jun 96 15:57:58 -0400 From: "Brian A. LaMacchia" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: No Kidding Date: Wed, 12 Jun 1996 12:14:15 -0700 From: Hal <email@example.com> > The absence of governmental regulation of Internet content has > unquestionably produced a kind of chaos, but as one of plaintiffs' > experts put it with such resonance at the hearing: > What achieved success was the very > chaos that the Internet is. The > strength of the Internet is that > chaos. This quote was from the end of Scott Bradner's recross on March 22. Here's the excerpt from the trial transcript: [page 166] 25 JUDGE DALZELL: And indeed, isn't the whole point [page 167] 1 that the very exponential growth and utility of the Internet 2 occurred precisely because governments kept their hands out 3 of this and didn't set standards that everybody had to 4 follow? 5 THE WITNESS: Well, it's actually even a little bit 6 more contorted than that because the governments tried to. 7 The U.S. Government and many other governments attempted to 8 mandate a particular kind of protocol to be used on worldwide 9 data networks, and this is the OSI protocol suite. The U.S. 10 Government mandated its use within the U.S. Government and 11 with purchasing material with U.S. funds. This was mandated 12 in many European countries and in Canada and many other 13 places around the world. 14 That particular suite of protocols has failed to 15 achieve market success. What achieved success was the very 16 chaos that the Internet is. The strength of the Internet is 17 that chaos. It's the ability to have the forum to innovate. 18 And certainly a strong standards environment fights hard 19 against innovation. --bal
Date: Thu, 13 Jun 1996 14:09:59 -0400 (EDT) From: Black Unicorn <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: Michael Froomkin <email@example.com> cc: "Declan B. McCullagh" <declan+@CMU.EDU>, cypherpunks <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: Anonymous remailers mentioned in CDA decision On Thu, 13 Jun 1996, Michael Froomkin wrote: > Given the extraordinaryly good findings of facts, the > government will have a very very tough time on appeal. Shows > you what fine lawyering can do. I, usually a judicial cynic, found the job done by the panel in terms of findings and judicially noted facts astoundingly complete. This case has really restored my faith in the ability of the judicial system to absorb new technologies- not because of the result itself, but because of the care and weight given to the process. As Professor Froomkin indicated, appeal will be exceedingly difficult. Not only are the findings of fact very detailed and extensive, but because this case did not involve a prosecution, there is no direct way to point to the evil criminal in a specific, rather than general way. I think they would be unwise to appeal, but I can also see where the political considerations would override that basic logic. I'll poke around a bit and see if I can find out what (if anything) is in the works.
In North Carolina, both Senators voted for the CDA:
And my representative from district 4:
And of course the Prez & Veep:
From American Reporter:
by Steve Russell American Reporter Correspondent San Antonio, Texas 2/8/96 censorship free THE X-ON CONGRESS: INDECENT COMMENT ON AN INDECENT SUBJECT by Steve Russell American Reporter Correspondent SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- You motherfuckers in Congress have dropped over the edge of the earth this time. I understand that very few of the swarm of high dollar lobbyists around the Telecommunications Bill had any interest in content regulation -- they were just trying to get their clients an opportunity to dip their buckets in the money stream that cyberspace may become -- but the public interest sometimes needs a little attention. Keeping your eyes on what big money wants, you have sold out the First Amendment. First, some basics. If your children walked by a public park and heard some angry sumbitches referring to Congress as "the sorriest bunch of cocksuckers ever to sell out the First Amendment" or suggesting that "the only reason to run for Congress these days is to suck the lobbyists' dicks and fuck the people who sent you there," no law would be violated (assuming no violation of noise ordinances or incitement to breach the peace). If your children did not wish to hear that language, they could only walk away. Thanks to your heads-up-your-ass dereliction of duty, if they read the same words in cyberspace, they could call the FBI! Cyberspace is the village green for the whole world. It is the same as the village green our Founders knew as the place to rouse the rabble who became Americans, but it is also different. Your blind acceptance of the dubious -- make that dogass dumb -- idea that children are harmed by hearing so-called dirty words has created some pretty stupid regulations without shutting down public debate, but those stupid regulations will not import to cyberspace without consequences that even the public relations whores in Congress should find unacceptable. In cyberspace, there is no time. A posted message stays posted until it is wiped. Therefore, there is no way to indulge the fiction that children do not stay up late or cannot program a VCR. In cyberspace, there is no place. The "community standards" are those of the whole world. An upload from Amsterdam can become a download in Idaho. By trying to regulate obscenity and indecency on the Internet, you have reduced the level of expression allowed consenting adults to that of the most anal retentive blueballed fuckhead U.S. attorney in the country. The Internet is everywhere you can plug in a modem. Call Senator Exon an "ignorant motherfucker" in Lincoln, Nebraska and find yourself prosecuted in Bibleburg, Mississippi. In cyberspace, you cannot require the convenience store to sell Hustler in a white sleeve. The functional equivalent is gatekeeper software, to which no civil libertarian has voiced any objection. Gatekeeper software cannot be made foolproof, but can you pandering pissants not see that any kid smart enough to hack into a Website is also smart enough to get his hands on a hard copy of Hustler if he really wants one? In cyberspace, there is the illusion of anonymity but no real privacy. It is theoretically possible for any Internet server to seine through all messages for key words (although it seems likely the resulting slowdown would be noticeable). Perhaps some of you read about America On Line's attempt to keep children from reading the word "breast?" An apparently unforeseen consequence was the shutdown of a discussion group of breast cancer survivors. Don't you think more kids are aware of "teat" (pronounced "tit") than of "breast?" Can skirts on piano legs, er, limbs be far behind? But silly shit like this is just a pimple on the ass of the long-term consequences for politics, art and education. You have passed a law that will get less respect than the 55 m.p.h. speed limit dead bang in the middle of the First Amendment. Indecency is nothing but a matter of fashion; obscenity is the same but on a longer timeline. This generation freely reads James Joyce and Henry Miller and the Republic still stands. The home of the late alleged pornographer D. H. Lawrence is now a beautiful writers' retreat in the mountains above Taos, managed by the University of New Mexico. Universities all have Internet servers, and every English Department has at least one scholar who can read Chaucer's English -- but not on the Internet anymore. Comparative literature classes might read Boccaccio -- but not on the Internet anymore. What if some U. S. Attorney hears about Othello and Desdemona "making the beast with two backs" -- is interracial sex no longer indecent anywhere in the country, or is Shakespeare off the Internet? Did you know you can download video and sound from the Internet? Yes, that means you can watch other people having sex if that is interesting to you, live or on tape. Technology can make such things hard to retrieve, but probably not impossible. And since you have swept right past obscenity and into indecency, the baby boomers had better keep their old rock 'n roll tapes off the Internet. When the Jefferson Airplane sang "her heels rise for me," they were not referring to a dance step. And if some Brit explains the line about "finger pie" in Penny Lane, the Beatles will be gone. All of those school boards that used to ban "The Catcher in the Rye" over cussing and spreading the foul lie that kids masturbate can now go to federal court and get that nasty book kept out of cyberspace. But enough about the past. What about rap music? No, I do not care much for it either -- any more than I care for the language you shitheads have forced me to use in this essay -- but can you not see the immediate differential impact of this law by class and race? What is your defense -- that there are no African-Americans on the Internet, since they are too busy pimping and dealing crack? If our educational establishment has any sense at all, they will be trying to see more teens of all colors on the Internet, because there is a lot to be learned in cyberspace that has nothing to do with sex. There are plenty of young people in this country who have legitimate political complaints. When you dickheads get done with Social Security, they will be lucky if the retirement age is still in double digits. But thanks to the wonderful job the public schools have done keeping sex and violence out, we have a lot of intelligent kids who cannot express themselves without indecent language. I have watched lawyers in open court digging their young clients in the ribs every time the word "fuck" slipped out. Let's talk about this fucking indecent language bullshit. Joe Shea, my editor, does not want it in his newspaper, and I respect that position. He might even be almost as upset about publishing this as I a about writing it. I do use salty language in my writing, but sparingly, only as a big hammer. Use the fucking shit too fucking much and it loses its fucking impact -- see what I mean? Fiction follows different rules, and if you confine your fiction writing to how the swell people want to see themselves using language, you not only preclude literary depiction of most people but you are probably false to the people you purport to depict. Do you remember how real language used by real people got on the air and in the newspapers? Richard Nixon, while he was president, speaking in the White House about official matters. A law professor and a nominee for Supreme Court Justice arguing about pubic hairs and porno movies during Senate hearings. Are these matters now too indecent for the Internet? How much cleansing will be required of the online news services? Answer: Enough cleansing to meet the standard of what is appropriate for a child in the most restrictive federal judicial district. This is bullshit -- unconstitutional bullshit and also bad policy bullshit. To violate your ban on indecency, I have been forced to use and overuse so-called indecent language. But if I called you a bunch of goddam motherfucking cocksucking cunt-eating blue-balled bastards with the morals of muggers and the intelligence of pond scum, that would be nothing compared to this indictment, to wit: you have sold the First Amendment, your birthright and that of your children. The Founders turn in their graves. You have spit on the grave of every warrior who fought under the Stars and Stripes. And what mess of pottage have you acquired in exchange for the rights of a free people? Have you cleansed the Internet of even the rawest pornography? No, because it is a worldwide system. You have, however, handed the government a powerful new tool to harass its critics: a prosecution for indecent commentary in any district in the country. Have you protected one child from reading dirty words? Probably not, if you understand what the economists call "substitution" -- but you have leveled the standards of political debate to a point where a history buff would not dare to upload some of the Federalist v. Anti-Federalist election rhetoric to a Website. Since the lobby reporting requirements were not law when the censorship discussion was happening, I hope you got some substantial reward for what you gave up. Thirty pieces of silver doesn't go far these days. -30- (Steve Russell, retired after 16 years as a trial judge in Texas, is Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Texas at San Antonio.) This article may be reproduced free forever.
And via VTW (email@example.com) BillWatch #36
>Posted-Date: Fri, 9 Feb 1996 15:26:35 -0500 >Date: Fri, 9 Feb 1996 17:16:35 +0100 >To: firstname.lastname@example.org [..] A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather. We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear. Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You do not know us, nor do you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself through our collective actions. You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did you create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our culture, our ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our society more order than could be obtained by any of your impositions. You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems don't exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own Social Contract . This governance will arise according to the conditions of our world, not yours. Our world is different. Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live. We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth. We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity. Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us. They are based on matter, There is no matter here. Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest, and the commonweal, our governance will emerge . Our identities may be distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The only law that all our constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule. We hope we will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis. But we cannot accept the solutions you are attempting to impose. In the United States, you have today created a law, the Telecommunications Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis. These dreams must now be born anew in us. You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you entrust your bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are too cowardly to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole, the global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat. In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United States, you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting guard posts at the frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the contagion for a small time, but they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media. Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas to be another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires your factories to accomplish. These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who had to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must declare our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to consent to your rule over our bodies. We will spread ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts. We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before. Davos, Switzerland February 8, 1996 John Perry Barlow, Cognitive Dissident Co-Founder, Electronic Frontier Foundation