EFF ALERT - Join Us in Opposing Exon Censorship Bill - ACT NOW! Stanton McCandlish, Electr

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From: Stanton McCandlish EFF ALERT - Join Us in Opposing Exon Censorship Bill - ACT NOW! Stanton McCandlish, Electronic Frontier Foundation, 1:109/1108 (for Shabbir Safdar and the Stop S314 Coalition) CAMPAIGN TO STOP THE US COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT (S. 314/H.R. 1004) (Note this is not the electronic "defeat S314" petition) Update: - Telecomm Reform bill scheduled for markup Thu 3/23/95 - Sen. Leahy (D-VT) expresses "serious concerns", seeks alternatives that protect free speech - Coalition Internet campaign has an impact PLEASE WIDELY REDISTRIBUTE THIS DOCUMENT WITH THIS BANNER INTACT DO NOT REDISTRIBUTE AFTER MAY 1, 1995 DO NOT REPRODUCE THIS ALERT IN NON-POLITICAL FORUMS Mar. 17, 1995 Distributed by the Voters Telecommunications Watch (vtw@vtw.org) ********************************************************************** [3/17/95: Yet even more organizations have joined us. Welcome aboard! Next week (Mar 23, 1995) the telecomm reform bill will be marked up in the Commerce committee. If the Communications Decency Act is added to the reform bill as an amendment, it will be *very difficult to stop*. The result of this bill becoming a law will be to change the nature of the Internet as we know it. The volume of information we take for granted will slow to a trickle. Win this battle, and we've won the fight for this year and stopped the bill. Lose it and we'll be on the ropes in the Senate for the rest of the session. Only you can make the difference, and it will only take two minutes. -Shabbir] ******************************************************************** In order to use the net more effectively, the following organizations have joined forces on a single Congressional net campaign to stop the Communications Decency Act, S. 314 (in alphabetical order): the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the American Communication Association (ACA), the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), the Center for Public Representation (CPR), the Computer Communicators Association (CCA), the Computing Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR), the CyberQueer Lounge, an online resource for the gay community, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), (Note the above DC-based EFF has no local chapters) the Electronic Frontier Foundation-Austin (EFF-Austin), the Electronic Frontiers Australia, (EFA) the Electronic Frontiers Houston, (EFH) the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the Florida Coalition Against Censorship (FCAC), the Hands Off! the Net petition drive, the National Coalition Against Censorship, (NCAC) the National Libertarian Party, (NLP), the National Public Telecomputing Network (NPTN), the National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981 AFL-CIO), (NWU) the People for the American Way (PFAW), the Society for Electronic Access (SEA), and the Voters Telecommunications Watch (VTW) These organizations are using the Voters Telecommunications Watch (VTW) as a conduit for legislative feedback. When you contact Congress about the Communications Decency Act and send your feedback to vtw@vtw.org, that information is being fed back to all participating organizations. If your organization would like to sign on to this campaign and receive legislative feedback, contact vtw@vtw.org. (Note the Fidonet and FTN mailing directions below) ********************************************************************** CONTENTS What you can do Introduction Background Current status of S. 314/H.R. 1004 Where can I learn more about the bill? (URL & Fidonet/FTN included) Where will I learn about updates to this alert? Current list of participating organizations ********************************************************************** WHAT YOU CAN DO (IN ONLY TWO MINUTES) 1. Contact Sen. Larry Pressler (R-SD, Commerce Committee Chairman), Sen. J.J. Exon (D-NE, sponsor of the bill), and Sen. Bob Packwood (R-OR, Chairman, Communications Subcommittee). Note: although contacting your own Senators is important, these members hold the keys at this point in time. If you want to contact your own Senators, that's great, but between now and Thursday Pressler, Exon and Packwood are the ones to focus on. Time is of the essence: *Phone calls* are best, faxes only partially effective, email has the least impact. P ST Name and Address Phone Fax = == ======================== ============== ============== R SD Pressler, Larry 1-202-224-5842 1-202-224-1259* 243 RSOB larry_pressler@pressler.senate.gov Washington, D.C. 20510 *Note this is the Senate Commercommittee's fax machine D NE Exon, J. J. 1-202-224-4224 1-202-224-5213 528 HSOB Washington, D.C. 20510 R OR Packwood, Robert 1-202-224-5244 1-202-228-3576 259 RSOB Washington, D.C. 20510 Urge them to keep S.314 from being incorporated into telecommunications reform legislation and to support Senator Leahy's efforts to explore alternatives to the Exon bill. Follow the communique at the bottom if you need to. 2. Feel free to use the following communique: SAMPLE COMMUNIQUE I'm a resident of _______. Please support Senator Leahy's efforts to explore alternatives to S. 314. Please keep S. 314 out of the telecommunications reform bill, and remove S. 314 from the fast track. Thanks. See below for a brief description of Leahy's initiative. His letter to CDT is in the VTW gopher. Concern over S.314 is not limited to the U.S. Among many international expressions of support, two have stood out in the first two weeks. EF-Australia is a member of the growing coalition, and IndiaNet has circulated our alert widely. If you are not a citizen of the United States you can still express your concern. A sample message to Senator Pressler follows: Dear Senator Pressler: The Exon bill will cripple the U.S. portion of the Internet and thereby devastate the growing global information community. Internation commerce and social and political cooperation will suffer greatly. I urge you to refrain from incorporating S.314 into any telecommunications reform legislation and to support Senator's Leahy initiatives to explore alternatives to S314. Both US citizens and non-US citizens should remember to be polite when speaking to legislators, even their own. 3. DON'T FORGET TO DROP A NOTE TO VTW@VTW.ORG to tell us who you contacted. (See below for FTN -> Internet emailing instructions.) We'll tally the results and feed them back to all participating organizations. It's crucial we have this feedback, even if you just got a form letter, or a "thank you" to your phone call. Please, when you report back, tell us what state you are in! This will help us track constituent calls, which are the most effective. 4. Feel good about yourself. You've just participated in democracy without leaving your seat. 5. (Extra bonus activism) Pass this alert to your friends, especially if they're in South Dakota, Nebraska, or Oregon. These states need to have as much constituent contact with their Senators as possible. Also, you might send a thank-you note to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) for his continuing efforts on behalf of free speech and the free flow of information in cyberspace. He can be reached at: P ST Name and Address Phone Fax = == ======================== ============== ============== D VT Leahy, Patrick J. 1-202-224-4242 1-202-224-3595 433 RSOB senator_leahy@leahy.senate.gov Washington, D.C. 20510 Don't forget to Cc: vtw@vtw.org on your mail to him, so we can tally the response. ********************************************************************** INTRODUCTION Dear Net Citizens: Legislation has been introduced before the Senate which would severely restrict your freedom of speech, halt the free flow of information on the net, and require all telecommunications carriers to censor your public and private communications. The "Communications Decency Act of 1995" (S. 314), introduced in early February by Senators Exon (D-NE) and Gorton (R-WA), would place substantial criminal liability on telecommunications carriers (including traditional telephone networks, Internet service providers, commercial online services such as America Online and Compuserve, and independent BBS's) whenever their networks are used to transmit any material which is deemed indecent or harassing. In order to avoid these penalties, carriers would be forced to restrict the activities of their subscribers and censor all public and private communications. We must act quickly to stop the progress of S. 314. The bill may soon be incorporated into Senate telecommunications reform legislation, which is currently being drafted by the Senate Commerce Committee. The telecommunications reform bill may be introduced as early as mid March, and is expected to be considered on a fast track. If S. 314 is included in this bill, it will be extremely difficult to change or remove and could pass quickly. We are asking you to join us in urging key members of the Senate to prevent S. 314 from being included in Senate telecommunications reform measures and to hold open, public hearings on the issue. From: Stanton McCandlish CURRENT STATUS OF S. 314/H.R. 1004 The bill was introduced on February 1, 1995 by Senators Exon (D-NE) and Gorton (R-WA). It is currently pending before the Senate Commerce Committee (chaired by Senator Pressler (R-SD)). No committee action has been scheduled as of March 9, 1995. The telecommunications reform bill is scheduled for hearing starting March 21, 1995. It is possible that S. 314 will be folded into the bill during markup next week. H.R. 1004 (worded the same as S. 314) was introduced on February 21, 1995 in the House by Representative Johnson (SD) and has been referred to the House Commerce and Judiciary committees. No committee actions in the House have been scheduled as of March 17, 1995. ********************************************************************* BACKGROUND S. 314 would expand current law restricting indecency and harassment on telephone services to all telecommunications providers and expand criminal liability to all content carried by all forms of telecommunications networks. The bill would amend Section 223 of the Communications Act (47 U.S.C. 223), which requires carriers to take steps to prevent minors from gaining access to indecent audiotext and criminalizes harassment accomplished over interstate telephone lines. If enacted, S. 314 would compel service providers to severely restrict your online activities. Your access to email, discussion lists, usenet, the world wide web, gopher, and ftp archives would be substantially reduced or cut off entirely. The bill would also force providers to closely monitor and pre-screen your electronic mail, and refuse to transmit any message or other content which may be considered to be indecent. This bill poses a significant threat to freedom of speech and the free flow of information in cyberspace. The bill also raises fundamental questions about the right of government to control content on communications networks, as well as the locus of liability for content carried in these new communications media. Recently, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has requested the Center for Democracy and Technology's Public Interest/Industry working group IWG (Interactive Working Group) to explore other solutions to the problems that S. 314 attempts to solve. The working group must be allowed to examine current legislation and explore technical alternatives that are consistent with the First Amendment and the free flow of information. We've received over 400 messages in two weeks, with our log showing over 700 letters, faxes, phone calls, and email messages (many people contacted more than one Senator. At least two respondents wrote all 19 members of the committee!) Of course many more people have probably contacted Congress without sending that note to VTW. Almost 200 messages went to Pressler, who may be getting the point. His staff told one caller, "Why are you calling us? It's Exon's bill!" (This is why phone calls to Pressler are so important.) One citizen wrote to Senator Gorton, a co-sponsor: "I, frankly, am amazed at the audacity of your proposed bill. We are not children sir, nor do we need your misplaced guidance in raising our children!" Along the same lines, another wrote to his own Senator: "While I am pleased, being an enthusiastic supporter of anti-harassment legislation, with many of the provisions of this bill, I am frankly astounded and appalled with others." Someone came up with metaphor that frankly we aren't clever enough to have thought of: "A few years ago, a tanker laden with a crude, noxious substance ran aground in the virginal territories of the Alaskan coastline. It poisoned the land and sea for many miles around.... We are now faced with another 'Exon Valdez'... a vehicle filled with crude legislation, currently at risk of running ashore on our pristine rights." Finally, someone writing to Pressler spoke for all of us to all of us: "At a time when communications between ordinary citizens has been all but drowned out by the barrage of mass media, online communication has become the last bastion of real citizen deliberation and has become the "public square" so to speak, of the nation. This bill would destroy this great experiment in the rejuvenation of grassroots democracy. Please do all you can to prevent its passage." We are encouraged by the success so far of the campaign, and hope that you take the time to participate at this crucial time. ******************************************************************** WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BILL? (URL INCLUDED) The Voters Telecommunications Watch has set up a gopher page where you can get a copy of the bill (including analyses by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Messaging Association, and others). Here's the URL: WWW URL: gopher://gopher.panix.com/11/vtw/exon Gopher command : gopher -p 1/vtw/exon gopher.panix.com If you have difficulty getting to this gopher page, or if you don't have access to Mosaic/gopher, drop a note to: vtw@vtw.org BBS Network Users: You can FREQ the files from the EFF BBS, 1:109/1108, 1-202-861-1224. The "magicword" for a list of relevant files is S314. You do NOT have to be nodelisted to get the files, or in any particular network. Just create a dummy nodelist entry with our phone number if you need to do so. Those in QWK nets or otherwise not able to File REQuest can download the files manually from the BBS, in the ALERTS file area. Feel free to login as ANONYMOUS, password GUEST to bypass newuser questionnaires. To send mail to vtw@vtw.org from FidoNet or other FTN systems, create a netmail message to your local UUCP host. Search the nodelist for the GUUCP flag, and use the address of that system: To: UUCP, [GUUCP system's address here. "To:" name MUST be set to UUCP] From: [you] Subject: S.314 _________________________________________________________________________ To: vtw@vtw.org [Message starts here on 3rd line. The second "To:" line with the internet email address MUST be the first line of the message body, and the blank line following that is REQUIRED. Mail will not be delivered by the gateways without it.] To email one of the Senators in the list above, just put the Senator's email address in place of "vtw@vtw.org" in the above example. If you are unsure whether your FTN has an Internet gateway, or suspect it may use something other than a GUUCP nodelist flag, ask your network coordinators. ********************************************************************** WHERE WILL I LEARN ABOUT UPDATES TO THIS ALERT? We will post updates to this alert in three places: -On the account vtw@panix.com (finger vtw@panix.com) -On Usenet (comp.org.eff.talk, comp.org.cpsr.talk, and alt.privacy) -Through our announcements mailing list, vtw-announce@vtw.org. To subscribe, simply send a message to listproc@vtw.org with the following in the message body: subscribe vtw-announce Firstname Lastname ********************************************************************* CURRENT LIST OF PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATIONS At this time, the following organizations have signed onto this campaign and are receiving the legislative feedback that VTW is compiling: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), infoaclu@aclu.org American Communication Association (ACA), comminfo@cavern.uark.edu Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), ask@cdt.org Center for Public Representation (CPR), mgpritch@facstaff.wisc.edu Computer Communicators Association (CCA), community@pigpen.demon.co.uk Computing Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR), cpsr@cpsr.org CyberQueer Lounge, tomh@cyberzine.org (Note that the DC-based EFF has no local chapters) Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), ask@eff.org Electronic Frontier Foundation-Austin (EFF-Austin), eff-austin@tic.com Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA), efa-info@efa.org.au Electronic Frontiers Houston (EFH), efh@efh.org Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), info@epic.org Florida Coalition Against Censorship (FCAC), PIPKING@mail.firn.edu Hands Off! the Net petition drive, slowdog@wookie.net National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), ncac@netcom.com National Libertarian Party (NLP), lphq@access.digex.net National Public Telecomputing Network (NPTN), info@nptn.org National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981 AFL-CIO), kip@world.std.com People for the American Way (PFAW), jlessern@reach.com Society for Electronic Access (SEA), sea@sea.org Voters Telecommunications Watch (VTW), vtw@vtw.org Note that the Voters Telecommunications Watch does not speak for these organizations. Any opinions contained herein are those of the author, and not necessarily endorsed by participating organizations. ----------------------------------------------------------------------

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