Two Internet Bills Approved
by Senate Commerce Committee
(March 12, 1988) The Senate Commerce Committee approved two bills by voice vote today. S 1619, the Internet School Filtering Act of 1998, requires that elementary and secondary schools, and libraries, receiving federal internet access subsidies install the blocking software of their choice. S 1482 bans from the web certain materials which are "harmful to minors". The only no vote came from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who opposed S 1482.
S 1482, sponsored by Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN), is a scaled down version of the overturned Communications Decency Act. The CDA had banned all "indecent" communications on all parts of the internet. The Coats bill, in contrast, is limited to communications which are on the web, which are "harmful to minors", and which are made to persons under 17 years of age.
I am pleased the Committee has recognized that with the growing use of the Internet in schools and libraries, our children will increasingly be exposed to harmful material, Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) said. The prevention lies, not in censoring what goes onto the Internet, but rather in filtering what comes out of it onto the computers our children use outside the home.
The day before the vote the ACLU and Electronic Frontier Foundation delivered a testy letter to Committee members urging them to vote against both bills, because of Reno v. ACLU, and for public policy reasons. The "bills fly in the face of the Supreme Court's rulings and will restrict protected free speech on the Internet," they charged.