Press Release from Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA)

June 26, 1997
CONTACT: Colin Crowell
(202) 225-2836


Lawmaker calls for "E-Chip" Blocking Software & New Rules to Empower Parents, Protect "Cybertots" in Wake of Supreme Court Decision

Washington, DC -- U.S. Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Ranking Democrat on the House Telecommunications, Trade, and Consumer Protection Subcommittee today issued the following statement in response to the Supreme Court's ruling on the Communications Decency Act (CDA):

"Although protecting children from indecent content in cyberspace is a laudable goal and an appropriate area for government policymaking, the CDA provided an unworkable, unconstitutional policy. Having opposed the CDA during deliberations on the Telecommunications Act of 1996, I am gratified that the Supreme Court today upheld a lower court's ruling that the CDA was unconstitutional.

"It is clear that the wondrous wire that brings new services to homes, schools, and businesses will have a certain Dickensian quality to it: it will be the best of wires and the worst of wires. It can be a vehicle to educate and inform, simultaneous with its ability to debase our society. The Supreme Court today declared the CDA unconstitutional because it went too far in prohibiting indecent Internet fare.

"I have long believed that we should place our emphasis on searching for technological solutions to help solve some of the problems that technology creates. Because the Internet is a medium that is international in scope, and ever-evolving in its technological configurations, it is a form of mass media that does not bend well to efforts to ban or censor content.

"I have recently introduced legislation (H.R. 1964) that will empower parents to deal with inappropriate content online by requiring Internet access providers to offer blocking software to parents for free or at cost at the time they subscribe to the service. This so-called "E-chip" blocking software can help parents to screen out content that they believe is inappropriate for their kids. I believe strongly that Internet access providers must make this software available to parents so that they can protect their children.

"It is clear Congress will need to act to address the issue of inappropriate online content so that children are protected. I will continue to advocate to my colleagues that the approach I have taken in my legislation is the way to protect "cybertots" while retaining constitutional freedoms.