Received May 16...
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Date: Thu, 16 May 1996 15:05:07 -0800
From: "--Todd Lappin-->"
To: David Cassel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: FLASH: DoJ Ordered to Halt "Reviews"
The aftershocks from the American Family Association's campaign to unleash
the Department of Justice on CompuServe Inc. continue to reverberate from
the Philadelphia courtroom...
In a poignant rebuke, Judge Stuart Dalzell today ordered the government to
halt all "reviews" of online indecency complaints pending a decision
regarding the constitutionality of the Communications Decency Act.
Dalzell writes that the government's "conduct in subjecting a content
provider to private and public scrutiny for displaying material that is
neither obscene nor child pornography clearly runs afoul of both this
Court's orders and the government's promises."
Further detail follows below.
Work the network!
CITIZENS INTERNET EMPOWERMENT COALITION
1634 EYE STREET, N.W.
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE For Further Information, Contact:
May 15, 1996 Sydney Rubin, 202/828-8829
COURT ORDERS FEDS TO CEASE "REVIEWING" INTERNET COMPLAINTS PENDING DECISION
ON COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A federal judge in Philadelphia today ordered the Justice
Department to stop all "reviews" of complaints under the Communications
Decency Act until a three-judge panel rules on the constitutionality of the
law that attempts to censor the Internet.
"As we said in court Friday, the government's action seriously injured
CompuServe and sent a real chill through the industry," said Bruce J. Ennis,
lead attorney for the American Library Association and 26 other plaintiffs in
a landmark case that will decide the future of free speech in cyberspace. "We
are pleased that the court has not only granted us the relief we requested,
but has acted so quickly."
A three-judge federal panel began hearing the case in early February. Prior
to the first hearing, the court entered a partial temporary restraining order
enjoining the government from enforcing certain sections of the law. The
government then stipulated to the court that it would not investigate or
prosecute any violations of the law until a decision was reached in the case.
Then, last week, stories appeared nationwide that a complaint by a
Mississippi-based Christian group, the American Family Association, against
CompuServe Inc. had been sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The
group complained that CompuServe had violated the CDA by putting nude
pictures on its new adult service, MacGlamour. The Internet site was labeled
for adults and CompuServe provides clients with free software to filter out
The FBI denied it was investigating -- which would have been in violation of
the court agreement -- but said it was "reviewing" the complaint.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the CDA challenge asked the court to clarify
if such a "review" violated the government's promise not to investigate.
Judge Stuart Dalzell on Wednesday, in a seven-page order, wrote: The
government's "conduct in subjecting a content provider to private and public
scrutiny for displaying material that is neither obscene nor child
pornography clearly runs afoul of both this Court's orders and the
In granting the plaintiff's motion for clarification, Dalzell ordered
Attorney General Janet Reno, the Justice Department and FBI to refrain from
"engaging in review" of content providers if that review "is triggered by"
material that is neither obscene nor child pornography. Both obscenity and
child pornography are against the law and are not being challenged in this
The American Library Association case and its plaintiffs grouped together as
the Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition have been consolidated by the
court with another suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. Closing
arguments Friday concluded five days of hearings spread over two months
during which time the court toured the Internet, heard testimony on how this
medium differs from any other and heard arguments in favor of granting the
medium the same First Amendment protections offered to books, newspapers and
the print medium in America.
The 27 plaintiffs in the case include: American Library Association, Inc.;
American Online, Inc.; American Booksellers Association, Inc.; American
Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression; American Society of Newspaper
Editors; Apple Computer, Inc.; Association of American Publishers, Inc.;
Association of Publishers, Editors and Writers; Citizens Internet Empowerment
Coalition; Commercial Internet eXchange; CompuServe Incorporated.; Families
Against Internet Censorship; Freedom to Read Foundation, Inc.; Health
Sciences Libraries Consortium; HotWired Ventures LLC; Interactive Digital
Software Association; Interactive Services Association; Magazine Publishers
of America, Inc.; Microsoft Corporation; Microsoft Network; National Press
Photographers Association; NETCOM On-Line Communication Services, Inc.;
Newspaper Association of America; Opnet, Inc.; Prodigy Services Company;
Wired Ventures, Ltd.; and, the Society of Professional Journalists Ltd.
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