Computers, Information Technology, the Internet, Ethics, Society and Human Values

Philip Pecorino, Ph.D.

Queensborough Community College,  CUNY

Chapter 4 Law: Freedom of Speech and Censorship


Freedom of Expression and Protecting Children from Pornography and Sexual Abuse

READ:  The Communications Decency Act of 1996

The actual final version of the law as passed by Congress on February 1, 1996 and signed into law as the Communications Decency Act of 1996.

Communications Decency Act CDA  TEXT

One key provision is

Whoever ... (1) in interstate or foreign communications knowingly ... uses any interactive computer service to display in a manner available to a person under 18 years of age, any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other communication that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards ... or (2) knowingly permits any telecommunications facility under such person's control to be used for an activity prohibited by paragraph (1) ... shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

John Perry Barlow posted his criticism in his  Cyberspace Independence Declaration on 2-8-96.

Challenges to act as passed

Reno v. ACLU, 1997 (CDA unconstitutional)

ACLU v. Reno III (Third Circuit, 2001)

Commission on Online Protection Act  Commission Report, Executive Summary    

The experience of America's children online has been at the forefront of concern for families and policymakers since the Internet first became widely available. The Internet is revolutionizing access to information, providing undeniable benefit to consumers and commerce. Nonetheless, it risks exposing children to sexually explicit material that many believe is inappropriate or harmful

Children's Privacy Legislation (USA).

Congress passed COPPA to protect children's personal information from its collection and misuse by commercial Web sites. On October 20, 1999, the Federal Trade Commission issued a final rule implementing the Act, which went into effect on April 21, 2000.

Problems with blocking software:  Jacking in from the "Keys to the Kingdom" Port:

Concerning Children's Access to the Web

turn to next section

Web Surfer's Caveat: These are class notes, intended to comment on readings and amplify class discussion. They should be read as such. They are not intended for publication or general distribution.                @copyright 2006 Philip A. Pecorino                       

Last updated 8-2006                                                              Return to Table of Contents