Senate Holds Hearing on Internet Indecency

(February 10, 1998.)  The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on indecency on the internet on February 10, 1998.  Committee member Dan Coats, who is one of the Senate's most ardent supporters of legislation to keep indecent and obscene material on the Internet away from minors,  pressed for new legislation.

Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN)  introduced S. 1482 on November 8, 1997.  It would restore some restrictions on internet indecency in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's ruling last year in ACLU v. Reno, which struck down the Communications Decency Act.

S. 1482 would requires that anyone engaged in "commercial distribution of material that is harmful to minors shall restrict access to such material by persons under 17 years of age."  However, the bill would permit distribution of any material if distributor requires "use of a verified credit account, debit account, adult access code, or adult personal identification number ..."

The bill is designed to reinstitute a ban on internet indecency, but in a manner which would overcome the Constitutional objections expressed by the Supreme Court in ACLU v. Reno.

Sen. Coats leveled shots at both the Supreme Court ("the Court chose to put the rights of pornographers ahead of the welfare of children"), and the Dept. of Justice ("the Clinton Administration Justice Department has not prosecuted a single case under the obscenity ban").