WAKE UP, NET CITIZENS!

Name Withheld (nobody@tower.techwood.org)
Sat, 4 Mar 1995 23:01:41 -0800


Hello there,

Give me about two minutes of your time here for a very serious problem
that is going to affect all of us. I've spent the entire day reading
through Senate Bill 314, the so-called "Communications Decency Act of
1995", as well as hundreds of pages of reviews, commentaries, and
impact analysis. This bill is going to be attached to another
communications regulation bill which is favored by many members of the
Congress. (The entire issue should come to discussion in early March!)

Long story short, if you post anything "indecent or obscene" at any
point on the Internet or on any BBSs after this Bill passes, you could be
fined $100,000 and jailed up to two years. Furthermore, whichever service
transmits your message -- whether it is a university or a commercial
provider -- will also be fined $100,000 PER DAY that the message is
publicly accessible.

For those that don't know this, the Internet itself is comprised of
thousands of individually-owned networks all connected together. For
example, I am building my own small network with my own computers, and
will then pay Netcom about $1,000 per month to have it connected to their
network, which is in turn connected to other networks--- creating the
Internet we all use. When a message such as this one is sent out, it
travels from network to network to network until it reaches its intended
audience. UNDER S.314, EVERY PROVIDER TRANSMITTING AN OBSCENE OR INDECENT
MESSAGE IS CRIMINALLY LIABLE.

If this bill is passed, huge sections of the World Wide Web (WWW) will
shut down almost immediately. Usenet groups will be severely restricted,
because anything "indecent", annoying, or harrassing--statements like "the
Holocaust never happened" for example--could be illegal. Most Net BBSs
like ISCA or NAILS could cease to exist since live chats can't be censored.
American ftp sites will be strongly restricted, and access to foreign sites
could be prohibited altogether. And many providers will either screen each
individual message for content, or more likely, simply close up shop and
leave. In the end, the Internet will be pratically worthless, compared to
the vast resource it is now.

And for those of you who enjoy Internet mailing lists, these lists will
almost definitely end with the passage of this bill. Why? Because after
the passage of this bill, anything potentially offensive to *anyone*
reading a list will hold the author or list manager criminally liable.
Most mailing lists on the Net are free, and probably can't afford the risk
of publishing something offensive.

I know a lot of the "petitions" going around are rather difficult to
understand, and I hope this message makes things a little clearer, and make
you understand why it is so important for you to ACT NOW.

"Authority has always attracted the lowest elements in the human race.
All through history, mankind has been bullied by scum. Those who
lord it over their fellows and toss commands in every direction and
would boss the grass in the meadow about which way to bend in the wind
are the most depraved kind of prostitutes. They will submit to any
indignity, perform any vile act, do anything to achieve power. The
worst off-sloughings of the planet are the ingredients of sovereignty.
Every government is a parliament of whores.
"The trouble is, in a democracy the whores are us."

--P.J. O'Rourke,
Parliament of Whores

(1) IF YOU OR YOUR FRIENDS OPPOSE THIS BILL...
If you haven't already signed another petition floating
around on the Internet now, then get as many names and
addresses and email them to me at <stan@rain.org>.
Please send me:
- your name
- your email address
- whether or not you are a US citizen
(Non-US citizens may still sign!)

(2) IF YOU WANT MORE INFORMATION ABOUT S.314...
Point your Web browser at http://www.wookie.net/~slowdog/
or just write to me and ask for info. I've got the text
of the bill itself, as well as stuff from PCWEEK, Newsweek,
a CNN transcript of debate on the bill, and various papers
of analysis. Yours for the asking.

(3) FORWARD THIS TO *EVERYONE* YOU KNOW...
Don't let the Internet go to hell while you sit by and
watch. Send this message to everyone you know so that they
too can know about this threat to our freedom. Chances are,
they'll thank you for it. And if they find it offensive?
Well, at least that's not illegal... YET.

John Stanforth Jacobs
Editor, Moonlit Thoughts At Three A.M.

- --

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/ __|__|/ _ '\ '__ | J. Stanforth Jacobs <stan@rain.org>
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