Senate Bill 1482, Letter from CDT to Commerce Committee

March 11, 1998

Dear Senator:

We write to urge you to oppose S.1482, the Communications Decency Act II (CDA II), sponsored by Senator Coats in the upcoming Senate Commerce Committee markup. This new well-intentioned but misguided effort to censor constitutionally-protected speech on the Internet is unconstitutional and ineffective. It goes down the same mistaken path as did the first Communications Decency Act approved unanimously by the committee only to be struck down by a 9-0 vote of the United States Supreme Court.

CDA II (S.1482) appears to cover a more narrow range of speech than its predecessor, but still suffers from fundamental constitutional infirmities which will surely lead to yet another round of litigation. Moreover, both CDA I & II are ultimately ineffective at addressing a very real problem: the availability of inappropriate material online to children. We urge you to oppose S. 1482 for the following reasons:

The infirmities of the proposed legislation ought not to lead to the conclusion that there is nothing to be done about the very real problem of Internet speech that is inappropriate for children. Increased awareness to this issue has encouraged parents around the country to become more involved in their children's use of the Net, and has spurred the development of blocking, filtering and other content selection tools that assist parents in creating a positive experience for their children, consistent with their own family values. Rather than continuing to propose unconstitutional and ineffective censorship laws, we hope that Congress can lend its support to the effort to encourage parents to take responsibility for their children's Internet usage, and to encourage the development of tools which can help parents. These efforts not a continuing cycle of hasty legislation and time-consuming litigation will ultimately make the Internet a safe place for children and realize our most cherished First Amendment values.

We are anxious to work with you on this very important issue. Please contact Daniel Weitzner Sincerely Yours,

Jerry Berman
Executive Director
Daniel J. Weitzner, Deputy Director
Center for Democracy and Technology +1 202.637.9800 (v)

1634 'Eye' St., NW Suite 1100 +1 202.637.0968 (f)
Washington, DC 20006

Posted on the "Interesting People" mailing list 98/03/12.