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 assist in screening information online."

"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 material."