The Communication Decency Act (CDA) is both unconstitutional and just plain wrong-- it restricts freedom and threatens to stifle a new marvelous mode of communications in its infancy. It's like a lobotomy performed on a genius child.
Communication IS the importance of the net, free communication between all people of the planet.
Thus, the CDA is not just an American problem, but a planetary one. Any restriction of the net is truly the restriction of the freedom of ideas and the synergy that takes place with the exchange of ideas -- in the United States and around the world. In cyberspace there is no country that one can or cannot be a member of.
With the passage of the CDA, the United States Congress is said to be responding to the wishes of the majority. The majority, we are told, looks at the net as a dangerous monster -- to the average parents, the net is nothing but a threat, it threatens to steal the childhood from their children. Of course, no one has any idea how the majority view the net, but since only a small minority are actually on the net, the majority's ideas are likely to be based on media reports rather than on actual experience.
With the media hype around child porn and violence on the net, it's easy to push an agenda that 'the net must be controlled' -- that the net must be 'made safe for children.' But underlying these issues is fear. Fear of change, of chaos, of diversity. The net is all these things and more.
The most important change that's occuring on the planet right now is that we're growing out of the mass society, mass consumption, mass schooling, mass manufacturing, and mass media. We have finally begun to acquire the tools we need to really be individuals, to pursue the human adventure in its noblest form.
The net with its inherently changing nature, and the array of promises it holds, including the end of mass media, the beginning of individual media, and the equality of it all, seems ideally designed to further this adventure.
So how should a state respond? Is there any need to try to control the change, the chaos, and the diversity? A democratic state should apply the wishes of the majority, but the rights of the individuals must be maintained, even when they go against the wishes of the majority.
What about 'protecting' the children? We are told the CDA will protect our children from 'indecency.' If the media is to be believed, most of that 'indecency' falls under sexuality.
Teenagers are probably the ones that are the most interested in sex. They're naturally curious about it. These attempted restrictions go head-to-head against natural laws. Society has determined for them that they should be 'protected' from access to sexual information on the net. At a national and planetary level it's an impossible task, even if it were a desireable one.
Technological advances go against sexual taboos. The best protection is information -- information makes protection unecessary! If 12 year olds want to know about sex they should be able to get information about sex , if they're not interested they won't look for it. One must look for pornography on the net, it's not like it comes to your mailboxes.
Besides decency is subjective. One's defintion of decency (and indency) mostly comes from the family as informed by the culture. Most would agree that parents have the right (and the responsibility to the child and themselves and all of humanity) to make the determination to protect their children from indecent ideas, behaviors, and information if you will. But since decency is subjective it falls on parents to make that determination on their own rather than look to government to do it for them.
The net, being what it is, has provided ways for parents to do just that through screening software, without restricting the rights of others. Here, for instance, are some utilities that let parents determine what their children see on the net:
|Parental Info||Cyber Patrol||Content Selection||Control Software||Safety Utilites||EFF Resource|
It's the nature of internet that most simple protections can be defeated and parents should know that!!!
In all of Europe except Great Britain (because of Napoleon's exporting of French laws) a law is fully determined by its text. In Great Britain, and by extension in America, a law is interpretive. A judge can come up with a specific interpretation and set a precedent that influences the laws that come later. This refreshing element can only be found in Anglo-Saxon laws and this element implicitly ackowledges the fragility of human laws.
Human laws must be a logical step up from natural laws, they must be efficient, inexpensive to enforce, they must have minimal restrictions, and they must facilitate the human journey.
The ACLU asserts the Communications Decency Act is unconstitutional on its face and as applied because it criminalizes expression that is protected by the First Amendment; it is also impermissibly overbroad and vague. Further it is not the least restrictive means of accomplishing any compelling governmental purpose.
Justice Brennan stated that "the procedure of having the (Supreme) Court examine (allegedly obscene) material has cast us in the role of an unreviewable board of censorship for the 50 states." As a result he concluded that the government could not constitutionally prohibit obscenity.
|Californians Against Censorship||Electronic Frontier Foundation||ACLU Freedom Network||Voters Telecommunications Watch|
|Democracy and Technology|
|Libertarian Party||Cyber Rights||VOTE LINK||Electronic Privacy|
|Internet Censorship News||U.S. Constitution||Internet Censorship Survey||Freedom to Read|
|California Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League||A Tastelessly Designed Page||Free Internet Encyclopedia||The Women's Health Network|
|The Vegetarian Society||Smoke & Mirrors|
|World Wide Women||KidSource OnLine|
|Is This What They Mean by "Indecent"||Condomania||Shakespeare||Toilets make history in India|
|Censorship on AOL||The Exposure Myth|
|Censorship on the Internet||Lippard/Jacobson Essay|