Internet Roundup: Supreme Court to Decide Constitutionality of Clinton’s Censorship Bill

Published: 1997-01-01

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Since the inception of CODOHWeb we have documented attempts from around the world to censor revisionism on the Internet. In December 1995 we established a “page” entitled “The Censorship File” which concentrates specifically on the various attempts by governments and Zionist organizations to curtail freedom of speech on the Internet.

One of the worst attacks on American freedoms occurred on February 8, 1996 when President Clinton signed his “Telecommunications bill” into law with the use of an electronic pen. The bill was purported to target “cybersmut,” although its ramifications seemed far more sweeping. Clinton’s bill is probably the foremost example of Internet censorship by any governmental body. The most dangerous language of the so-called “Communications Decency Act” was its provision to restrict “indecent” material from being presented on the Internet.

Under this Orwellian piece of legislation, it was to be a federal crime to present “indecent” material in a form that could be accessed by children. Of course, there was no clear definition of the word “indecent.” This left many people, including revisionists, nervous about the execution of the bill. Under the bill, anyone downloading “indecent” material is subject to two years in jail and $100,000 in fines.

CODOHWeb joined hundreds of other Websites in protest of the enactment of this bill by changing the background color of their website pages to “black.”

Almost immediately numerous organizations filed suit to derail the law. The fight for freedom of speech was taken up by organizations as diverse as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Microsoft Corporation, the American Library Association and Planned Parenthood. The law was challenged by 57 different plaintiffs in all.

In June of 1996, the Internet celebrated as a panel of federal judges in Philadelphia ruled against Clinton by his censorship bill. The judges wrote, “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.”

Over 4,000 Websites rejoiced over the decision, displaying boxes which proclaimed, “Free speech!” with fireworks. Celebration rallies were held around the country.

Still, undaunted, Clinton’s and Janet Reno’s Justice Department filed an appeal. On December 6th the Supreme Court of the United States announced that it will hear the case and ultimately decide whether the United States government can restrict “indecency” on the Internet. The case is to be argued before the Supreme Court in March of 1997, with a decision expected by July. The case is already being called the most important First Amendment case of our time.

Last July 4th in the early morning hours, we discovered that shadowy figures had managed to have CODOHWeb temporarily shut down. That attempt at curtailment of our First Amendment rights failed and today CODOHWeb is stronger than ever. Hopefully, next Independence Day will bring the final end to Clinton’s Internet censorship bill and secure the freedom of all Americans to speak and read for the next century.

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Author(s): Richard A. Widmann
Title: Internet Roundup: Supreme Court to Decide Constitutionality of Clinton’s Censorship Bill
Sources: Smith's Report, no. 39, January 1997, p. 6
Published: 1997-01-01
First posted on CODOH: Oct. 2, 2015, 4:06 a.m.
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