310: The CDA and Anonymity

Nathan & I didn't bring up the CDA in our presentation because 1) we
didn't have time, and 2) Erika, Kim and Joey are talking about it in
depth, but here's a tie-in to anonymity from EPIC:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 20 Mar 1997 01:03:50 -0800
From: Cyber Rights <cyber-rights@Sunnyside.COM>
Subject: cr> Encryption-related legal developments in Europe (319 lines)
Sender: Jerome Thorel <jt@freenix.fr>

Well before the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on the
constitutionality of the CDA, David Sobel, EPIC's legal counsel,
reminded the electronic community that the Court handed down a
decisive decision two years ago.  Excerpts from the EPIC Alert 4.04
newsletter herewith:

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To avoid potential criminal liability under the CDA's "indecency"
provision, information providers would, in effect, be required to
verify the identities and ages of all recipients of material that
might be deemed inappropriate for children. If upheld, the statutory
regime would thus result in the creation of "registration records" for
tens of thousands of Internet sites, containing detailed descriptions
of information accessed by particular recipients. These records would
be accessible to law enforcement agencies and prosecutors
investigating alleged violations of the statute.  Such a regime would
constitute a gross violation of Americans' rights to access
information privately and anonymously.

Two years ago, the Supreme Court upheld the right to anonymous speech
in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission. EPIC believes that the
Court's rationale in that case applies with even greater force to the
Internet "indecency" provisions now under review. The Court noted in
McIntyre that:

" The decision in favor of anonymity may be motivated by fear of
economic or official retaliation, by concern about social ostracism,
or merely by a desire to preserve as much of one's privacy as
possible. ...

"Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. It thus
exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First
Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from
retaliation -- and their ideas from suppression -- at the hand of an
intolerant society."

Whether the millions of individuals visiting sites on the Internet are
seeking information on teenage pregnancy, AIDS and other sexually
transmitted diseases, classic works of literature or avant-garde
poetry, they enjoy a Constitutional right to do so privately and
anonymously. The Communications Decency Act seeks to destroy that
right. If upheld, the CDA would render the Internet not only the most
censored communications medium, but also the most heavily monitored.

"EPIC is confident that upon review of the legislation and its impact
upon free speech and privacy rights in emerging electronic media, the
Supreme Court will affirm the lower court decision invalidating the
CDA as fundamentally at odds with the Constitution."

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A report by Jerome Thorel <jt@freenix.fr>
English rewriting: Ken N. Cukier <100736.3602@CompuServe.COM>
lambda archives --> www.freenix.fr/netizen

Jerome Thorel			Planete Internet
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thorel@netpress.fr		191 av A. Briand, 94230 Cachan
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