Subject: --> PETITION to Congress to Stop Senate Bill S.314 (Danger to Internet)

*** PROTECT THE INTERNET. READ THIS MESSAGE ***

This document is an electronic Petition Statement to the U.S. Congress
regarding pending legislation, the "Communications Decency Act of 1995"
(S. 314) which will have, if passed, very serious negative ramifications
for freedom of expression on Usenet, the Internet, and all electronic
networks.  The proposed legislation would remove guarantees of privacy
and free speech on all electronic networks, including the Internet, and
may even effectively close them down as a medium to exchange ideas and
information.

For an excellent analysis of this Bill by the Center for Democracy and
Technology (CDT), refer to the Appendix attached at the end of this
document.  The text to S. 314 is also included in this Appendix.

This document is somewhat long, but the length is necessary to give you
sufficient information to make an informed decision.  Time is of the
essence, we are going to turn this petition and the signatures in on
3/16/95, so if you are going to sign this please do so ASAP or at least
before midnight Wednesday, March 15, 1995.

Even if you read this petition after the due date, please submit your
signature anyway as we expect Congress to continue debating these issues
in the foreseeable future and the more signatures we get, the more
influence the petition will have on discussion.  And even if Congress
rejects S. 314 while signatures are being gathered, do submit your
signature anyway for the same reason.

Please do upload this petition statement as soon as possible to any BBS
and on-line service in your area.  If you have access to one of the
major national on-line services such as CompuServe, Prodigy, AOL, etc.,
do try to upload it there.  We are trying to get at least 5000
signatures.  Even more signatures are entirely possible if we each put
in a little effort to inform others, such as friends and coworkers,
about the importance of this petition to electronic freedom of
expression.

Here is a brief table of contents:

(1) Introduction (this section)
(2) The Petition Statement
(3) Instructions for signing this petition
(4) Credits
(Appendix) Analysis and text of S. 314 (LONG but excellent)


******(2) The Petition Statement

In united voice, we sign this petition against passage of S. 314 (the
"Communications Decency Act of 1995") for these reasons:

S. 314 would prohibit not only individual speech that is "obscene, lewd,
lascivious, filthy, or indecent", but would prohibit any provider of
telecommunications service from carrying such traffic, under threat of
stiff penalty.  Even aside from the implications for free speech, this
would cause an undue - and unjust - burden upon operators of the various
telecommunications services.  In a time when the citizenry and their
lawmakers alike are calling for and passing "no unfunded mandates" laws
to the benefit of the states, it is unfortunate that Congress might seek
to impose unfunded mandates upon businesses that provide the framework
for the information age.

An additional and important consideration is the technical feasibility
of requiring the sort of monitoring this bill would necessitate.  The
financial burden in and of itself - in either manpower or technology to
handle such monitoring (if even legal under the Electronic
Communications Privacy Act) - would likely cause many smaller providers
to go out of business, and most larger providers to seriously curtail
their services.

The threat of such penalty alone would result in a chilling effect in
the telecommunications service community, not only restricting the types
of speech expressly forbidden by the bill, but creating an environment
contrary to the Constitutional principles of free speech, press, and
assembly - principles which entities such as the Internet embody as
nothing has before.

By comparison, placing the burden for content control upon each
individual user is surprisingly simple in the online and interactive
world, and there is no legitimate reason to shift that burden to
providers who carry that content.  Unlike traditional broadcast media,
networked media is comparatively easy to screen on the user end - giving
the reader, viewer, or participant unparalleled control over his or her
own information environment.  All without impacting or restricting what
any other user wishes to access.  This makes regulation such as that
threatened by this S. 314 simply unnecessary.

In addition, during a period of ever-increasing commercial interest in
arenas such as the Internet, restriction and regulation of content or
the flow of traffic across the various telecommunications services would
have serious negative economic effects.  The sort of regulation proposed
by this bill would slow the explosive growth the Internet has seen,
giving the business community reason to doubt the medium's commercial
appeal.

We ask that the Senate halt any further progress of this bill.  We ask
that the Senate be an example to Congress as a whole, and to the nation
at large - to promote the general welfare as stated in the Preamble to
the Constitution by protecting the free flow of information and ideas
across all of our telecommunications services.


******(3) Instructions for signing the petition

          ======================================
          Instructions for Signing This Petition
          ======================================

It must first be noted that this is a petition, not a vote.  By
"signing" it you agree with *all* the requests made in the petition.  If
you do not agree with everything in this petition, then your only
recourse is to not sign it.

In addition, all e-mail signatures will be submitted to Congress, the
President of the United States, and the news media.

Including your full name is optional, but *very highly encouraged* as
that would add to the effectiveness of the petition.  Signing via an
anonymous remailer is highly discouraged, but not forbidden, as an
attempt will be made to separately tally signatures from anonymous
remailers.

Because this is a Petition to the U.S. Congress, we ask that you state,
as instructed below, whether or not you are a U.S. citizen.  We do
encourage non-U.S. citizens to sign, but their signatures will be
tallied separately.

Signing this petition is not hard, but to make sure your signature is
not lost or miscounted, please follow these directions EXACTLY:

1) Prepare an e-mail message.  In the main body (NOT the Subject line)
of your e-mail include the ONE-LINE statement:

SIGNED <Internet e-mail address> <Full name> <US Citizen>

You need not include the "<" and ">" characters. 'SIGNED' should be
capitalized.  As stated above, your full name is optional, but highly
recommended.  If you do supply your name, please don't use a pseudonym
or nickname, or your first name -- it's better to just leave it blank if
it's not your full and real name.  If you are a U.S. citizen, please
include at the end of the signature line a 'YES', and if you are not, a
'NO'.  All signatures will be tallied whether or not you are a U.S.
Citizen

****************************************************
Example: My e-mail signature would be:

SIGNED dave@kachina.altadena.ca.us Dave C. Hayes YES
****************************************************

2) Please DON'T include a copy of this petition, nor any other text, in
your e-mail message.  If you have comments to make, send e-mail to me
personally, and NOT to the special petition e-mail signature address.

3) Send your e-mail message containing your signature to the following
Internet e-mail address and NOT to me:

              ===========================
                s314-petition@netcom.com
              ===========================

4) Within a few days of receipt of your signature, an automated
acknowledgment will be e-mailed to you for e-mail address verification
purposes.  You do not need to respond or reply to this acknowledgement
when you receive it.  We may also contact you again in the future should
we need more information, such as who your House Representative and
Senators are, which is not asked here as it is unclear whether such
information is needed.

Thank you for signing this petition!


******(4) Credits

The petition statement was written by slowdog ,
super.net.freedom.fighter.

The rest of this document mostly collated from the net by Dave Hayes,
net.freedom.fighter.

Much help came from Jon Noring, INFJ and self.proclaimed.net.activist
who made a few suggestions and will be tallying the signatures.

Thanks to the EFF and CDT for the excellent analysis of the bill.

(p.s., send your signature to s314-petition@netcom.com)

******(Appendix) Analysis and text of S. 314

[This analysis provided by the Center for Democracy and Technology, a
non-profit public interest organization.  CDT's mission is to develop
and advocate public policies that advance Constitutional civil liberties
and democratic values in new computer and communications technologies.
For more information on CDT, ask Jonah Seiger .]

CDT POLICY POST 2/9/95

SENATOR EXON INTRODUCES ONLINE INDECENCY LEGISLATION

A.  OVERVIEW

Senators Exon (D-NE) and Senator Gorton (R-WA) have introduced
legislation to expand current FCC regulations on obscene and indecent
audiotext to cover *all* content carried over all forms of electronic
communications networks.  If enacted, the "Communications Decency Act of
1995" (S. 314) would place substantial criminal liability on
telecommunications service providers (including telephone networks,
commercial online services, the Internet, and independent BBS's) if
their network is used in the transmission of any indecent, lewd,
threatening or harassing messages.  The legislation is identical to a
proposal offered by Senator Exon last year which failed along with the
Senate Telecommunications reform bill (S.  1822, 103rd Congress,
Sections 801 - 804). The text the proposed statute, with proposed
amendment, is appended at the end of this document.

The bill would compel service providers to chose between severely
restricting the activities of their subscribers or completely shutting
down their email, Internet access, and conferencing services under the
threat of criminal liability.  Moreover, service providers would be
forced to closely monitor every private communication, electronic mail
message, public forum, mailing list, and file archive carried by or
available on their network, a proposition which poses a substantial
threat to the freedom of speech and privacy rights of all American
citizens.

S. 314, if enacted, would represent a tremendous step backwards on the
path to a free and open National Information Infrastructure.  The bill
raises fundamental questions about the ability of government to control
content on communications networks, as well as the locus of liability
for content carried in these new communications media.

To address this threat to the First Amendment in digital media, CDT is
working to organize a broad coalition of public interest organizations
including the ACLU, People For the American Way, and Media Access
Project, along with representatives from the telecommunications, online
services, and computer industries to oppose S. 314 and to explore
alternative policy solutions that preserve the free flow of information
and freedom of speech in the online world.  CDT believes that
technological alternatives which allow individual subscribers to control
the content they receive represent a more appropriate approach to this
issue.


B.  SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS OF S. 314

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.
This section, commonly known as the Helms Amendment (having been
championed by Senator Jesse Helms), has been the subject of extended
Constitutional litigation in recent years.

* CARRIERS LIABLE FOR CONDUCT OF ALL USERS ON THEIR NETWORKS

S. 314 would make telecommunication carriers (including telephone
companies, commercial online services, the Internet, and BBS's) liable
for every message, file, or other content carried on its network --
including the private conversations or messages exchanged between two
consenting individuals.

Under S. 314, anyone who "makes, transmits, or otherwise makes available
any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other
communication" which is "obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent"
using a "telecommunications device" would be subject to a fine of
$100,000 or two years in prison (Section (2)(a)).

In order to avoid liability under this provision, carriers would be
forced to pre-screen all messages, files, or other content before
transmitting it to the intended recipient.  Carriers would also be
forced to prevent or severely restrict their subscribers from
communicating with individuals and accessing content available on other
networks.

Electronic communications networks do not contain discrete boundaries.
Instead, users of one service can easily communicate with and access
content available on other networks.  Placing the onus, and criminal
liability, on the carrier as opposed to the originator of the content,
would make the carrier legally responsible not only for the conduct of
its own subscribers, but also for content generated by subscribers of
other services.

This regulatory scheme clearly poses serious threats to the free flow of
information throughout the online world and the free speech and privacy
rights of individual users.  Forcing carriers to pre-screen content
would not only be impossible due to the sheer volume of messages, it
would also violate current legal protections.

* CARRIERS REQUIRED TO ACT AS PRIVATE CENSOR OF ALL PUBLIC FORUMS AND
ARCHIVES

S. 314 would also expand current restrictions on access to indecent
telephone audiotext services by minors under the age of 18 to cover
similar content carried by telecommunications services (such as America
Online and the Internet).  (Sec (a)(4)).

As amended by this provision, anyone who, "by means of telephone or
telecommunications device, makes, transmits, or otherwise makes
available (directly or by recording device) any indecent communication
for commercial purposes which is available to any person under the age
of 18 years of age or to any other person without that person's consent,
regardless of whether the maker of such communication placed the call or
initiated the communication" would be subject of a fine of $100,000 or
two years in prison.

This would force carries to act as private censors of all content
available in public forums or file archives on their networks.
Moreover, because there is no clear definition of indecency, carriers
would have to restrict access to any content that could be possibly
construed as indecent or obscene under the broadest interpretation of
the term. Public forums, discussion lists, file archives, and content
available for commercial purposes would have to be meticulously screened
and censored in order to avoid potential liability for the carrier.

Such a scenario would severely limit the diversity of content available
on online networks, and limit the editorial freedom of independent forum
operators.

ADDITIONAL NOTABLE PROVISIONS

* AMENDMENT TO ECPA

Section (6) of the bill would amend the Electronic Communications
Privacy Act (18 USC 2511) to prevent the unauthorized interception and
disclosure of "digital communications" (Sec. 6).  However, because the
term "digital communication" is not defined and 18 USC 2511 currently
prevents unauthorized interception and disclosure of "electronic
communications" (which includes electronic mail and other forms of
communications in digital form), the effect of this provision has no
clear importance.

* CABLE OPERATORS MAY REFUSE INDECENT PUBLIC ACCESS PROGRAMMING

Finally, section (8) would amend sections 611 and 612 of the
Communications Act (47 USC 611 - 612) to allow any cable operator to
refuse to carry any public access or leased access programming which
contains "obscenity, indecency, or nudity".

C.  ALTERNATIVES TO EXON: RECOGNIZE THE UNIQUE USER CONTROL CAPABILITIES
OF INTERACTIVE MEDIA

Government regulation of content in the mass media has always been
considered essential to protect children from access to
sexually-explicit material, and to prevent unwitting listeners/views
from being exposed to material that might be considered extremely
distasteful.  The choice to protect children has historically been made
at the expense of the First Amendment ban on government censorship.  As
Congress moves to regulate new interactive media, it is essential that
it understand that interactive media is different than mass media.  The
power and flexibility of interactive media offers a unique opportunity
to enable parents to control what content their kids have access to, and
leave the flow of information free for those adults who want it.
Government control regulation is simply not needed to achieve the
desired purpose.

Most interactive technology, such as Internet browsers and the software
used to access online services such as America Online and Compuserve,
already has the capability to limit access to certain types of services
and selected information.  Moreover, the electronic program guides being
developed for interactive cable TV networks also provide users the
capability to screen out certain channels or ever certain types of
programming.  Moreover, in the online world, most content (with the
exception of private communications initiated by consenting individuals)
is transmitted by request.  In other words, users must seek out the
content they receive, whether it is by joining a discussion or accessing
a file archive.  By its nature, this technology provides ample control
at the user level.  Carriers (such as commercial online services,
Internet service providers) in most cases act only as "carriers" of
electronic transmissions initiated by individual subscribers.

CDT believes that the First Amendment will be better served by giving
parents and other users the tools to select which information they (and
their children) should have access to.  In the case of criminal content
the originator of the content, not the carriers, should be responsible
for their crimes.  And, users (especially parents) should be empowered
to determine what information they and their children have access to.
If all carriers of electronic communications are forced restrict content
in order to avoid criminal liability proposed by S. 314, the First
Amendment would be threatened and the usefulness of digital media for
communications and information dissemination would be drastically
limited.


D.  NEXT STEPS

The bill has been introduced and will next move to the Senate Commerce
Committee, although no Committee action has been scheduled.  Last year,
a similar proposal by Senator Exon was approved by the Senate Commerce
committee as an amendment to the Senate Telecommunications Bill (S.
1822, which died at the end of the 103rd Congress).  CDT will be working
with a wide range of other interest groups to assure that Congress does
not restrict the free flow of information in interactive media.


TEXT OF 47 U.S.C. 223 AS AMENDED BY S. 314

**NOTE:         [] = deleted
                ALL CAPS = additions

47 USC 223 (1992)

Sec. 223.  [Obscene or harassing telephone calls in the District
of Columbia or in interstate or foreign communications]

OBSCENE OR HARASSING UTILIZATION OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS
DEVICES AND FACILITIES IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA OR IN
INTERSTATE OR FOREIGN COMMUNICATIONS"

   (a) Whoever--

   (1) in the District of Columbia or in interstate or foreign
communication by means of [telephone] TELECOMMUNICATIONS
DEVICE--

   (A) [makes any comment, request, suggestion or proposal]
MAKES, TRANSMITS, OR OTHERWISE MAKES AVAILABLE ANY COMMENT,REQUEST,
SUGGESTION, PROPOSAL, IMAGE, OR OTHER COMMUNICATION which is
obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent;

   [(B) makes a telephone call, whether or not conversation ensues,
without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse,
threaten, or harass any person at the called number;]


"(B) MAKES A TELEPHONE CALL OR UTILIZES A TELECOMMUNICATIONS
DEVICE, WHETHER OR NOT CONVERSATION OR COMMUNICATIONS
ENSUES,WITHOUT DISCLOSING HIS IDENTITY AND WITH INTENT TO ANNOY,
ABUSE, THREATEN, OR HARASS ANY PERSON AT THE CALLED NUMBER OR WHO
RECEIVES THE COMMUNICATION;


   (C) makes or causes the telephone of another repeatedly or
continuously to ring, with intent to harass any person at the
called number; or

   [(D) makes repeated telephone calls, during which conversation
ensues, solely to harass any person at the called number; or]

(D) 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,

   (2) knowingly permits any [telephone facility]
TELECOMMUNICATIONS FACILITY under his control to be used
for any purpose prohibited by this section, shall be fined not more
than $[50,000]100,000 or imprisoned  not more than [six months] TWO
YEARS, or both.

   (b)(1) Whoever knowingly--

   (A) within the United States, by means of [telephone]
TELECOMMUNICATIONS DEVICCE, makes (directly or by recording device)
any obscene communication for commercial purposes to any person,
regardless of whether the maker of such communication placed the
call or INITIATED THE COMMUNICATION; or

  (B) permits any [telephone facility] TELECOMMUNICATIONS
FACILITY under such person's control to be used for an activity
prohibited by subparagraph (A), shall be fined in accordance with
title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than two
years, or both.

   (2) Whoever knowingly--

   (A) within the United States, [by means of telephone],
makes BY MEANS OF TELEPHONE OR TELECOMMUNICATIONS DEVICE, MAKES,
TRANSMITS, OR MAKES AVAILABLE(directly or by recording device) any
indecent communication for commercial purposes which is available
to any person under 18 years of age or to any other person without
that person's consent, regardless of whether the maker of such
communication placed the call OR INITIATED THE COMMUNICATION; or


   (B) permits any [telephone facility] TELECOMMUNICATIONS
FACILITY under such person's control to be used for an activity
prohibited by subparagraph (A), shall be fined not more than
$[50,000] 100,000 or imprisoned not more than [six months]
TWO YEARS, or both.


   (3) It is a defense to prosecution under paragraph (2) of this
subsection that the defendant restrict access to the prohibited
communication to persons 18 years of age or older in accordance
with subsection (c) of this section and with such procedures as the
Commission may prescribe by regulation.

   (4) In addition to the penalties under paragraph (1), whoever,
within the United States, intentionally violates paragraph
(1) or (2) shall be subject to a fine of not more than $[50,000]
100,000 for each violation. For purposes of this paragraph, each
day of violation shall constitute a separate violation.

   (5)(A) In addition to the penalties under paragraphs (1), (2),
and (5), whoever, within the United States, violates paragraph (1)
or (2) shall be subject to a civil fine of not more than $[50,000]
100,000 for each violation. For purposes of this paragraph, each
day of violation shall constitute a separate violation.

   (B) A fine under this paragraph may be assessed either--

   (i) by a court, pursuant to civil action by the Commission or
any attorney employed by the Commission who is designated by the
Commission for such purposes, or

   (ii) by the Commission after appropriate administrative
proceedings.

   (6) The Attorney General may bring a suit in the appropriate
district court of the United States to enjoin any act or practice
which violates paragraph (1) or (2). An injunction may be granted
in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

   (c)(1) A common carrier within the District of Columbia or
within any State, or in interstate or foreign commerce, shall not,
to the extent technically feasible, provide access to a
communication specified in subsection (b) from the
telephone of any subscriber who has not previously requested in
writing the carrier to provide access to such communication if the
carrier collects from subscribers an identifiable charge for such
communication that the carrier remits, in whole or in part, to the
provider of such communication.

   (2) Except as provided in paragraph (3), no cause of action may
be brought in any court or administrative agency against any common
carrier, or any of its affiliates, including their officers,
directors, employees, agents, or authorized representatives on
account of--

   (A) any action which the carrier demonstrates was taken in good
faith to restrict access pursuant to paragraph (1) of this
subsection; or

   (B) any access permitted--

   (i) in good faith reliance upon the lack of any representation
by a provider of communications that communications provided by
that provider are communications specified in subsection (b), or

   (ii) because a specific representation by the provider did not
allow the carrier, acting in good faith, a sufficient period to
restrict access to communications described in subsection (b).

   (3) Notwithstanding paragraph (2) of this subsection, a provider
of communications services to which subscribers are denied access
pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection may bring an action
for a declaratory judgment or similar action in a court. Any such
action shall be limited to the question of whether the
communications which the provider seeks to provide fall within
the category of communications to which the carrier will provide
access only to subscribers who have previously requested such
access.


NOTE: This version of the text shows the actual text of current law as it would be changed. For the bill itself, which consists of unreadable text such as: [...] (1) in subsection (a)(1)-- (A) by striking out `telephone' in the matter above subparagraph (A) and inserting `telecommunications device'; (B) by striking out `makes any comment, request, suggestion, or proposal' in subparagraph (A) and inserting `makes, transmits, or otherwise makes available any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other communication'; (C) by striking out subparagraph (B) and inserting the following: `(B) makes a telephone call or utilizes a [...] See: ftp.eff.org, /pub/EFF/Legislation/Bills_new/s314.bill gopher.eff.org, 1/EFF/Legislation/Bills_new, s314.bill http://www.eff.org/pub/EFF/Legislation/Bills_new/s314.bill