News Release from Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
June 26, 1997
Supreme Court Case Could Mean Repeat of Last Year's Debate
Congresswoman Lofgren Urges Sensible Solution not "Knee Jerk" Posturing
The Supreme Court ruling in Reno v ACLU could throw the debate on Internet "smut" back to Congress.
The Communications Decency Act, which attempted to make it illegal
to transmit objectionable material o children over the Internet,
passed Congress last year and was signed by the President as part
of the Telecommunications Reform legislation. Today's 7-2 ruling
struck down the CDA on grounds that it is an abridgement of the
right to freedom of speech, guaranteed under the First Amendment.
Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren has introduced H.R. 774, the Internet
Freedom and Child Protection Act that would maintain respect for
the First Amendment while helping parents keep unsuitable material
away from children. IT IS THE MOST PRACTICAL AND REASONABLE PROPOSAL
ON THIS ISSUE OFFERED IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
Lofgren's bill requires all Internet providers to offer some version
of screening software, such as Net Nanny, SurfWatch, of CYBERsitter.
Just as telephone customers can block "900 numbers"
and in the same vein as the 'v-chip' for television, these systems
allow parents to limit access to material they deem unsuitable
for their children.
The Clinton Administration somewhat altered its position last
week. Though still supporting the CDA, it has suggested that Congress
follow the approach outlined by Congresswoman Lofgren, namely
using "easy-to-use technical solutions...to assist in screening
"I am please with the ruling and with the Administration's
new position," said Congresswoman Lofgren, who attended the
Supreme Court last March when it heard arguments in the case.
"We should deal with 'smut' anywhere, by empowering people
with the tools to shield themselves and their children from offensive