Clinton Signs Internet Censorship Bill

Published: 1996-02-08

On February 8, 1996, President Clinton signed a Telecommunications bill into law with the use of an electronic pen. This bill which targets "cybersmut" is the foremost example of censorship of the Internet by a governmental body. The bill's provisions restrict "indecent" material from being presented on the Internet.

Under this Orwellian piece of legislation, it is a federal crime to present "indecent" material in a form that could be accessed by children. There is no clear definition of the word, "indecent."

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the new legislation bans: Human Rights Watch, a web-site which reports on international human rights violations; Planned Parenthood, which offers various birth control information; and Critical Path AIDS Project, which offers safe sex information.

The ACLU is preparing a case to go to court to seek a restraining order against the bill's censorship provisions. According to Jonathan Wallace, a plaintiff in the suit, his on-line newsletter, "The Ethical Spectacle," which has published articles on human experimentation at Auschwitz would be banned under the new law.

In protest of the enactment of this bill, hundreds of web-sites have changed their pages colors to "black." (For more information on the protest, see Voter's Telecommunications Watch [link now defunct, ed.].) Under the bill, anyone downloading "indecent" material is subject to two years in jail and $100,000 in fines.

( Please note: I regret not having the URL for Human Rights Watch and would be grateful if someone could provide it. Thanks. RW)

Adapted from: The Star Ledger Washington Bureau 02/08/96

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Author(s): CODOH
Title: Clinton Signs Internet Censorship Bill
Sources: Adapted from: The Star Ledger Washington Bureau 08/02/96
Published: 1996-02-08
First posted on CODOH: Feb. 6, 1996, 6 p.m.
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