Communications Decency Act
                 Enacted by the U.S. Congress on February 1, 1996
 
 
 
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; REFERENCES.
     (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``Telecommunications Act of 1996''.
     (b) References.--Except as otherwise expressly provided, whenever in this Act an
amendment or repeal is expressed in terms of an amendment to, or repeal of, a section or other
provision, the reference shall be considered to be made to a section or other provision of the
Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 151 et seq.).
 
....              
 
 
  TITLE V--OBSCENITY AND VIOLENCE
  Subtitle A--Obscene, Harassing, and Wrongful Utilization of
                 Telecommunications Facilities
 
SEC. 501. SHORT TITLE.
     This title may be cited as the ``Communications Decency Act of 1996''.
 
SEC. 502. OBSCENE OR HARASSING USE OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS
FACILITIES UNDER THE COMMUNICATIONS ACT OF 1934.
     Section 223 (47 U.S.C. 223) is amended--
          (1) by striking subsection (a) and inserting in lieu thereof:
     ``(a) Whoever--
          ``(1) in interstate or foreign communications--
               ``(A) by means of a telecommunications device knowingly--
                    ``(i) makes, creates, or solicits, and
                    ``(ii) initiates the transmission of,
          any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other communication
          which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent, with intent to annoy, abuse,
          threaten, or harass another person;
               ``(B) by means of a telecommunications device knowingly--
                    ``(i) makes, creates, or solicits, and
                    ``(ii) initiates the transmission of,
          any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other communication
          which is obscene or indecent, knowing that the recipient of the communication is
          under 18 years of age, regardless of whether the maker of such communication
          placed the call or initiated the communication;
               ``(C) makes a telephone call or utilizes a telecommunications device,
          whether or not conversation or communication ensues, without disclosing his
          identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person at the
          called number or who receives the communications;
               ``(D) makes or causes the telephone of another repeatedly or continuously
          to ring, with intent to harass any person at the called number; or
               ``(E) makes repeated telephone calls or repeatedly initiates communication
          with a telecommunications device, during which conversation or communication
          ensues, solely to harass any person at the called number or who receives the
          communication; or
          ``(2) knowingly permits any telecommunications facility under his control to be
     used for any activity prohibited by paragraph (1) with the intent that it be used for such
     activity,
shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than two years, or
both.''; and
          (2) by adding at the end the following new subsections:
     ``(d) Whoever--
          ``(1) in interstate or foreign communications knowingly--
               ``(A) uses an interactive computer service to send to a specific person or
          persons under 18 years of age, or
               ``(B) uses any interactive computer service to display in a manner
          available to a person under 18 years of age,
     any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other communication that, in
     context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary
     community standards, sexual or excretory activities or organs, regardless of whether the
     user of such service placed the call or initiated the communication; or
          ``(2) knowingly permits any telecommunications facility under such person's
     control to be used for an activity prohibited by paragraph (1) with the intent that it be
     used for such activity,
shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
     ``(e) In addition to any other defenses available by law:
          ``(1) No person shall be held to have violated subsection (a) or (d) solely for
     providing access or connection to or from a facility, system, or network not under that
     person's control, including transmission, downloading, intermediate storage, access
     software, or other related capabilities that are incidental to providing such access or
     connection that does not include the creation of the content of the communication.
          ``(2) The defenses provided by paragraph (1) of this subsection shall not be
     applicable to a person who is a conspirator with an entity actively involved in the creation
     or knowing distribution of communications that violate this section, or who knowingly
     advertises the availability of such communications.
          ``(3) The defenses provided in paragraph (1) of this subsection shall not be
     applicable to a person who provides access or connection to a facility, system, or network
     engaged in the violation of this section that is owned or controlled by such person.
          ``(4) No employer shall be held liable under this section for the actions of an
     employee or agent unless the employee's or agent's conduct is within the scope of his or
     her employment or agency and the employer (A) having knowledge of such conduct,
     authorizes or ratifies such conduct, or (B) recklessly disregards such conduct.
          ``(5) It is a defense to a prosecution under subsection (a)(1)(B) or (d), or under
     subsection (a)(2) with respect to the use of a facility for an activity under subsection
     (a)(1)(B) that a person--
               ``(A) has taken, in good faith, reasonable, effective, and appropriate
          actions under the circumstances to restrict or prevent access by minors to a
          communication specified in such subsections, which may involve any appropriate
          measures to restrict minors from such communications, including any method
          which is feasible under available technology; or
               ``(B) has restricted access to such communication by requiring use of a
          verified credit card, debit account, adult access code, or adult personal
          identification number.
          ``(6) The Commission may describe measures which are reasonable, effective,
     and appropriate to restrict access to prohibited communications under subsection (d).
     Nothing in this section authorizes the Commission to enforce, or is intended to provide
     the Commission with the authority to approve, sanction, or permit, the use of such
     measures. The Commission shall have no enforcement authority over the failure to utilize
     such measures. The Commission shall not endorse specific products relating to such
     measures. The use of such measures shall be admitted as evidence of good faith efforts
     for purposes of paragraph (5) in any action arising under subsection (d). Nothing in this
     section shall be construed to treat interactive computer services as common carriers or
     telecommunications carriers.
     ``(f)(1) No cause of action may be brought in any court or administrative agency against
any person on account of any activity that is not in violation of any law punishable by criminal or
civil penalty, and that the person has taken in good faith to implement a defense authorized under
this section or otherwise to restrict or prevent the transmission of, or access to, a communication
specified in this section.
     ``(2) No State or local government may impose any liability for commercial activities or
actions by commercial entities, nonprofit libraries, or institutions of higher education in
connection with an activity or action described in subsection (a)(2) or (d) that is inconsistent with
the treatment of those activities or actions under this section: Provided, however, That nothing
herein shall preclude any State or local government from enacting and enforcing complementary
oversight, liability, and regulatory systems, procedures, and requirements, so long as such
systems, procedures, and requirements govern only intrastate services and do not result in the
imposition of inconsistent rights, duties or obligations on the provision of interstate services.
Nothing in this subsection shall preclude any State or local government from governing conduct
not covered by this section.
     ``(g) Nothing in subsection (a), (d), (e), or (f) or in the defenses to prosecution under (a)
or (d) shall be construed to affect or limit the application or enforcement of any other Federal
law.
     ``(h) For purposes of this section--
          ``(1) The use of the term `telecommunications device' in this section--
               ``(A) shall not impose new obligations on broadcasting station licensees
          and cable operators covered by obscenity and indecency provisions elsewhere in
          this Act; and
               ``(B) does not include an interactive computer service.
          ``(2) The term `interactive computer service' has the meaning provided in section
     230(e)(2).
          ``(3) The term `access software' means software (including client or server
     software) or enabling tools that do not create or provide the content of the communication
     but that allow a user to do any one or more of the following:
               ``(A) filter, screen, allow, or disallow content;
               ``(B) pick, choose, analyze, or digest content; or
               ``(C) transmit, receive, display, forward, cache, search, subset, organize,
          reorganize, or translate content.
          ``(4) The term `institution of higher education' has the meaning provided in
     section 1201 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1141).
          ``(5) The term `library' means a library eligible for participation in State-based
     plans for funds under title III of the Library Services and Construction Act (20 U.S.C.
     355e et seq.).''.
 
SEC. 503. OBSCENE PROGRAMMING ON CABLE TELEVISION.
     Section 639 (47 U.S.C. 559) is amended by striking ``not more than $10,000'' and
inserting ``under title 18, United States Code,''.
 
SEC. 504. SCRAMBLING OF CABLE CHANNELS FOR NONSUBSCRIBERS.
     Part IV of title VI (47 U.S. C. 551 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:
 
``SEC. 640. SCRAMBLING OF CABLE CHANNELS FOR NONSUBSCRIBERS.
     ``(a) Subscriber Request.--Upon request by a cable service subscriber, a cable operator
shall, without charge, fully scramble or otherwise fully block the audio and video programming
of each channel carrying such programming so that one not a subscriber does not receive it.
     ``(b) Definition.--As used in this section, the term `scramble' means to rearrange the
content of the signal of the programming so that the programming cannot be viewed or heard in
an understandable manner.''.
 
SEC. 505. SCRAMBLING OF SEXUALLY EXPLICIT ADULT VIDEO SERVICE
PROGRAMMING.
     (a) Requirement.--Part IV of title VI (47 U.S.C. 551 et seq.), as amended by this Act, is
further amended by adding at the end the following:
 
``SEC. 641. SCRAMBLING OF SEXUALLY EXPLICIT ADULT VIDEO SERVICE
PROGRAMMING.
     ``(a) Requirement.--In providing sexually explicit adult programming or other
programming that is indecent on any channel of its service primarily dedicated to sexually-oriented programming, a multichannel video programming distributor s
otherwise fully block the video and audio portion of such channel so that one not a subscriber to
such channel or programming does not receive it.
     ``(b) Implementation.--Until a multichannel video programming distributor complies
with the requirement set forth in subsection (a), the distributor shall limit the access of children
to the programming referred to in that subsection by not providing such programming during the
hours of the day (as determined by the Commission) when a significant number of children are
likely to view it.
     ``(c) Definition.--As used in this section, the term `scramble' means to rearrange the
content of the signal of the programming so that the programming cannot be viewed or heard in
an understandable manner.''.
     (b) Effective Date.--The amendment made by subsection (a) shall take effect 30 days
after the date of enactment of this Act.
 
SEC. 506. CABLE OPERATOR REFUSAL TO CARRY CERTAIN PROGRAMS.
     (a) Public, Educational, and Governmental Channels.--Section 611(e) (47 U.S.C.
531(e)) is amended by inserting before the period the following: ``, except a cable operator may
refuse to transmit any public access program or portion of a public access program which
contains obscenity, indecency, or nudity''.
     (b) Cable Channels for Commercial Use.--Section 612(c)(2) (47 U.S.C. 532(c)(2)) is
amended by striking ``an operator'' and inserting ``a cable operator may refuse to transmit any
leased access program or portion of a leased access program which contains obscenity,
indecency, or nudity and''.
 
SEC. 507. CLARIFICATION OF CURRENT LAWS REGARDING COMMUNICATION
OF OBSCENE MATERIALS THROUGH THE USE OF COMPUTERS.
     (a) Importation or Transportation.--Section 1462 of title 18, United States Code, is
amended--
          (1) in the first undesignated paragraph, by inserting ``or interactive computer
     service (as defined in section 230(e)(2) of the Communications Act of 1934)'' after
     ``carrier''; and
          (2)  in the second undesignated paragraph--
               (A) by inserting ``or receives,'' after ``takes'';
               (B) by inserting ``or interactive computer service (as defined in section
          230(e)(2) of the Communications Act of 1934)'' after ``common carrier''; and
               (C) by inserting ``or importation'' after ``carriage''.
     (b) Transportation for Purposes of Sale or Distribution.--The first undesignated
paragraph of section 1465 of title 18, United States Code, is amended--
          (1) by striking ``transports in'' and inserting ``transports or travels in, or uses a
     facility or means of,'';
          (2) by inserting ``or an interactive computer service (as defined in section
     230(e)(2) of the Communications Act of 1934) in or affecting such commerce'' after
     ``foreign commerce'' the first place it appears;
          (3) by striking ``, or knowingly travels in'' and all that follows through ``obscene
     material in interstate or foreign commerce,'' and inserting ``of''.
     (c) Interpretation.--The amendments made by this section are clarifying and shall not
be interpreted to limit or repeal any prohibition contained in sections 1462 and 1465 of title 18,
United States Code, before such amendment, under the rule established in United States v.
Alpers, 338 U.S. 680 (1950).
 
SEC. 508. COERCION AND ENTICEMENT OF MINORS.
     Section 2422 of title 18, United States Code, is amended--
          (1) by inserting ``(a)'' before ``Whoever knowingly''; and
          (2) by adding at the end the following:
     ``(b) Whoever, using any facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce, including
the mail, or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States,
knowingly persuades, induces, entices, or coerces any individual who has not attained the age of
18 years to engage in prostitution or any sexual act for which any person may be criminally
prosecuted, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 10
years, or both.''.
 
SEC. 509. ONLINE FAMILY EMPOWERMENT.
     Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 201 et seq.) is amended by adding
at the end the following new section:
 
``SEC. 230. PROTECTION FOR PRIVATE BLOCKING AND SCREENING OF
OFFENSIVE MATERIAL.
     ``(a) Findings.--The Congress finds the following:
          ``(1) The rapidly developing array of Internet and other interactive computer
     services available to individual Americans represent an extraordinary advance in the
     availability of educational and informational resources to our citizens.
          ``(2) These services offer users a great degree of control over the information that
     they receive, as well as the potential for even greater control in the future as technology
     develops.
          ``(3) The Internet and other interactive computer services offer a forum for a true
     diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and
     myriad avenues for intellectual activity.
          ``(4) The Internet and other interactive computer services have flourished, to the
     benefit of all Americans, with a minimum of government regulation.
          ``(5) Increasingly Americans are relying on interactive media for a variety of
     political, educational, cultural, and entertainment services.
     ``(b) Policy.--It is the policy of the United States--
          ``(1) to promote the continued development of the Internet and other interactive
     computer services and other interactive media;
          ``(2) to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for
     the Internet and other interactive computer services,  unfettered by Federal or State
     regulation;
          ``(3) to encourage the development of technologies which maximize user control
     over what information is received by individuals, families, and schools who use the
     Internet and other interactive computer services;
          ``(4) to remove disincentives for the development and utilization of blocking and
     filtering technologies that empower parents to restrict their children's access to
     objectionable or inappropriate online material; and
          ``(5) to ensure vigorous enforcement of Federal criminal laws to deter and punish
     trafficking in obscenity, stalking, and harassment by means of computer.
     ``(c) Protection for `Good Samaritan' Blocking and Screening of Offensive
Material.--
          ``(1) Treatment of publisher or speaker.--No provider or user of an
     interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any
     information provided by another information content provider.
          ``(2) Civil liability.--No provider or user of an interactive computer service
     shall be held liable on account of--
               ``(A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or
          availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd,
          lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable,
          whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; or
               ``(B) any action taken to enable or make available to information content
          providers or others the technical means to restrict access to material described in
          paragraph (1).
     ``(d) Effect on Other Laws.--
          ``(1) No effect on criminal law.--Nothing in this section shall be construed to
     impair the enforcement of section 223 of this Act, chapter 71 (relating to obscenity) or
     110 (relating to sexual exploitation of children) of title 18, United States Code, or any
     other Federal criminal statute.
          ``(2) No effect on intellectual property law.--Nothing in this section shall
     be construed to limit or expand any law pertaining to intellectual property.
          ``(3) State law.--Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent any State
     from enforcing any State law that is consistent with this section. No cause of action may
     be brought and no liability may be imposed under any State or local law that is
     inconsistent with this section.
          ``(4) No effect on communications privacy law.--Nothing in this section
     shall be construed to limit the application of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act
     of 1986 or any of the amendments made by such Act, or any similar State law.
     ``(e) Definitions.--As used in this section:
          ``(1) Internet.--The term `Internet' means the international computer network of
     both Federal and non-Federal interoperable packet switched data networks.
          ``(2) Interactive computer service.--The term `interactive computer service'
     means any information service, system, or access software provider that provides or
     enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server, including specifically a
     service or system that provides access to the Internet and such systems operated or
     services offered by libraries or educational institutions.
          ``(3) Information content provider.--The term `information content provider'
     means any person or entity that is responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or
     development of information provided through the Internet or any other interactive
     computer service.
          ``(4) Access software provider.--The term `access software provider' means a
     provider of software (including client or server software), or enabling tools that do any
     one or more of the following:
               ``(A) filter, screen, allow, or disallow content;
               ``(B) pick, choose, analyze, or digest content; or
               ``(C) transmit, receive, display, forward, cache, search, subset, organize,
          reorganize, or translate content.''.
 
                       Subtitle Bviolence
 
SEC. 551. PARENTAL CHOICE IN TELEVISION PROGRAMMING.
     (a) Findings.--The Congress makes the following findings:
          (1) Television influences children's perception of the values and behavior that are
     common and acceptable in society.
          (2) Television station operators, cable television system operators, and video
     programmers should follow practices in connection with video programming that take
     into consideration that television broadcast and cable programming has established a
     uniquely pervasive presence in the lives of American children.
          (3) The average American child is exposed to 25 hours of television each week
     and some children are exposed to as much as 11 hours of television a day.
          (4) Studies have shown that children exposed to violent video programming at a
     young age have a higher tendency for violent and aggressive behavior later in life than
     children not so exposed, and that children exposed to violent video programming are
     prone to assume that acts of violence are acceptable behavior.
          (5) Children in the United States are, on average, exposed to an estimated 8,000
     murders and 100,000 acts of violence on television by the time the child completes
     elementary school.
          (6) Studies indicate that children are affected by the pervasiveness and casual
     treatment of sexual material on television, eroding the ability of parents to develop
     responsible attitudes and behavior in their children.
          (7) Parents express grave concern over violent and sexual video programming and
     strongly support technology that would give them greater control to block video
     programming in the home that they consider harmful to their children.
          (8) There is a compelling governmental interest in empowering parents to limit
     the negative influences of video programming that is harmful to children.
          (9) Providing parents with timely information about the nature of upcoming video
     programming and with the technological tools that allow them easily to block violent,
     sexual, or other programming that they believe harmful to their children is a nonintrusive
     and narrowly tailored means of achieving that compelling governmental interest.
     (b) Establishment of Television Rating Code.--
          (1) Amendment.--Section 303 (47 U.S.C. 303) is amended by adding at the end
     the following:
     ``(w) Prescribe--
          ``(1) on the basis of recommendations from an advisory committee established by
     the Commission in accordance with section 551(b)(2) of the Telecommunications Act of
     1996, guidelines and recommended procedures for the identification and rating of video
     programming that contains sexual, violent, or other indecent material about which parents
     should be informed before it is displayed to children, provided that nothing in this
     paragraph shall be construed to authorize any rating of video programming on the basis of
     its political or religious content; and
          ``(2) with respect to any video programming that has been rated, and in
     consultation with the television industry, rules requiring distributors of such video
     programming to transmit such rating to permit parents to block the display of video
     programming that they have determined is inappropriate for their children.''.
          (2) Advisory committee requirements.--In establishing an advisory committee
     for purposes of the amendment made by paragraph (1) of this subsection, the
     Commission shall--
               (A) ensure that such committee is composed of parents, television
          broadcasters, television programming producers, cable operators, appropriate
          public interest groups, and other interested individuals from the private sector and
          is fairly balanced in terms of political affiliation, the points of view represented,
          and the functions to be performed by the committee;
               (B) provide to the committee such staff and resources as may be necessary
          to permit it to perform its functions efficiently and promptly; and
               (C) require the committee to submit a final report of its recommendations
          within one year after the date of the appointment of the initial members.
     (c) Requirement for Manufacture of Televisions That Block Programs.--Section
303 (47 U.S.C. 303), as amended by subsection (a), is further amended by adding at the end the
following:
     ``(x) Require, in the case of an apparatus designed to receive television signals that are
shipped in interstate commerce or manufactured in the United States and that have a picture
screen 13 inches or greater in size (measured diagonally), that such apparatus be equipped with a
feature designed to enable viewers to block display of all programs with a common rating, except
as otherwise permitted by regulations pursuant to section 330(c)(4).''.
     (d) Shipping of Televisions That Block Programs.--
          (1) Regulations.--Section 330 (47 U.S.C. 330) is amended--
               (A) by redesignating subsection (c) as subsection (d); and
               (B) by adding after subsection (b) the following new subsection (c):
 
     ``(c)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), no person shall ship in interstate commerce
or manufacture in the United States any apparatus described in section 303(x) of this Act except
in accordance with rules prescribed by the Commission pursuant to the authority granted by that
section.
     ``(2) This subsection shall not apply to carriers transporting apparatus referred to in
paragraph (1) without trading in it.
     ``(3) The rules prescribed by the Commission under this subsection shall provide for the
oversight by the Commission of the adoption of standards by industry for blocking technology.
Such rules shall require that all such apparatus be able to receive the rating signals which have
been transmitted by way of line 21 of the vertical blanking interval and which conform to the
signal and blocking specifications established by industry under the supervision of the
Commission.
     ``(4) As new video technology is developed, the Commission shall take such action as the
Commission determines appropriate to ensure that blocking service continues to be available to
consumers. If the Commission determines that an alternative blocking technology exists that--
          ``(A) enables parents to block programming based on identifying programs
     without ratings,
          ``(B) is available to consumers at a cost which is comparable to the cost of
     technology that allows parents to block programming based on common ratings, and
          ``(C) will allow parents to block a broad range of programs on a multichannel
     system as effectively and as easily as technology that allows parents to block
     programming based on common ratings,
the Commission shall amend the rules prescribed pursuant to section 303(x) to require that the
apparatus described in such section be equipped with either the blocking technology described in
such section or the alternative blocking technology described in this paragraph.''.
          (2) Conforming amendment.--Section 330(d), as redesignated by subsection
     (d)(1)(A), is amended by striking ``section 303(s), and section 303(u)'' and inserting in
     lieu thereof ``and sections 303(s), 303(u), and 303(x)''.
     (e) Applicability and Effective Dates.--
          (1) Applicability of rating provision.--The amendment made by subsection
     (b) of this section shall take effect 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, but only
     if the Commission determines, in consultation with appropriate public interest groups and
     interested individuals from the private sector, that distributors of video programming
     have not, by such date--
               (A) established voluntary rules for rating video programming that contains
          sexual, violent, or other indecent material about which parents should be informed
          before it is displayed to children, and such rules are acceptable to the
          Commission; and
               (B) agreed voluntarily to broadcast signals that contain ratings of such
          programming.
          (2) Effective date of manufacturing provision.--In prescribing regulations to
     implement the amendment made by subsection (c), the Federal Communications
     Commission shall, after consultation with the television manufacturing industry, specify
     the effective date for the applicability of the requirement to the apparatus covered by such
     amendment, which date shall not be less than two years after the date of enactment of this
     Act.
 
SEC. 552. TECHNOLOGY FUND.
     It is the policy of the United States to encourage broadcast television, cable, satellite,
syndication, other video programming distributors, and relevant related industries (in
consultation with appropriate public interest groups and interested individuals from the private
sector) to--
          (1) establish a technology fund to encourage television and electronics equipment
     manufacturers to facilitate the development of technology which would empower parents
     to block programming they deem inappropriate for their children and to encourage the
     availability thereof to low income parents;
          (2) report to the viewing public on the status of the development of affordable,
     easy to use blocking technology; and
          (3) establish and promote effective procedures, standards, systems, advisories, or
     other mechanisms for ensuring that users have easy and complete access to the
     information necessary to effectively utilize blocking technology and to encourage the
     availability thereof to low income parents.
 
                  Subtitle C--Judicial Review
 
SEC. 561. EXPEDITED REVIEW.
     (a) Three-Judge District Court Hearing.--Notwithstanding any other provision of
law, any civil action challenging the constitutionality, on its face, of this title or any amendment
made by this title, or any provision thereof, shall be heard by a district court of 3 judges
convened pursuant to the provisions of section 2284 of title 28, United States Code.
     (b) Appellate Review.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an interlocutory or
final judgment, decree, or order of the court of 3 judges in an action under subsection (a) holding
this title or an amendment made by this title, or any provision thereof, unconstitutional shall be
reviewable as a matter of right by direct appeal to the Supreme Court. Any such appeal shall be
filed not more than 20 days after entry of such judgment, decree, or order.