two CDT essays about child safety & free speech

by on October 6, 2008 · 4 comments

Over at CDT’s “Policy Beta” blog, my friends John Morris and Sophia Cope have penned two important essays about online free speech issues that are worthy of your attention. In the first, Sophia argues that the “Next President Must Preserve Free Speech on the Internet.” She argues:

It will be critical for the next President to do his part to uphold the Internet’s robust culture of free speech and innovation as we march further into the 21st Century. In stark contrast to the mass media of the last century, the Internet has provided, at very low cost, virtually unlimited forums for both creators and consumers of new content and technologies. This in turn has created a huge boost for participatory democracy and our economy. The next Administration must reject Congressional or agency efforts to censor content or stifle the fire of innovation on the Internet and other communications media.

Amen! Importantly, Sophia points to the essential role of Section 230 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which protects online service providers from crushing legal liability in a variety of circumstances. Sec. 230 is probably the most important — and most often forgotten — law dealing with online freedom. Unfortunately, however, it’s increasingly under attack and we need to be vigilant in defending it. (I’m working on a big paper about that right now with my PFF colleagues Berin Szoka and Adam Marcus).

In the second essay on the CDT blog today, John Morris notes how Congress has been passing a “flurry” of last-minute child safety bills. He points out:

While the public’s attention was focused on the drama unfolding around the economic bailout, it was actually a busy time for other bills to get pushed – sometimes under the cover of the bailout darkness. Just before recess, Congress considered parts of four “child safety” bills, acted on three, and sent two to the White House. While not all the provisions in these bills raise red flags, some language gives free expression advocates plenty to worry about.

One of the measures he discusses, S. 602, the “Child Safe Viewing Act of 2007,” was the subject of an essay I penned here a few days ago.

Anyway, make sure to read these excellent essays by Sophia and John.

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