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Jewish Post of New York Goes Black: Internet Community Protests Legislation

By Louie Volpe
Webmaster
Jewish Post of New York Online

"Why is this page black?" - became the battle cry of the Internet recently as the normally bright and colorful World Wide Web shrouded itself in black to protest the presidential signing of the Telecommunications bill.

As President Bill Clinton was signing the new cable and phone legislation, thousands of web pages through the nation, and the world, were changing their normal colorful displays to black. Blue ribbons of support appeared on many sites as well.

The online world is objecting to provisions added to the Telecommunications bill by the US Congress under the guise of protecting the nation's children. These provisions aim to strip away many of the first amendment rights afforded by the Constitution. Thus the Internet becomes the most regulated medium in the US.

Many of the major World Wide Web sites joined in the protest, including Netscape, makers of the web's most popular browser, and search engines like Yahoo. The Jewish Post of New York and its Internet edition, The Jewish Post of New York Online, have joined in the protest by turning its pages black. We have also included information for online visitors wishing to find out more about the protest.

Rights and freedoms guaranteed print publications, magazines, and books are no longer guaranteed on the Information Superhighway. Walk into any book store, look around, read, purchase a treasure to take home. BUT place the exact same information Online - and you could be subjected to arrest, imprisonment, and fines up to $250,000.

According to legal experts, no longer can you discuss Abortion on the Internet. Pro or con, it doesn't matter. ILLEGAL! Quote from the Bible? ILLEGAL! And then there is the porn issue??? That big "Family Values" issue. The "World is corrupt and it is taking your children with them" political hot button. The bill makes it illegal to knowingly transmit indecent material to minors. Fine! It should be! But what about Adults?

Get to the bookstore and pick up a copy of Playboy or Playgirl. Take it home. No problem. But have those EXACT same pictures on the Internet. ILLEGAL! And what is indecent? Where is the definition? C ommunity standards they say! Whose community? What standards?

What is indecent in the Bible belt in usually far from indecent in the big cities. What about different cultures? What is indecent in an ultra-religious Muslim country, where it is indecent if a woman is not covered from head to toe, is totally different from Europe, where most major works of public art consist of nudes and people tend to be more passe' about the subject.

The online protest is being led by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Coalition to Stop Net Censorship, two non-profit organizations "working in the public interest to protect privacy, free expression, and access to online resources and information."

In response to the signing, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other civil liberties groups have brought suit to fight this legislation. They have won the first round. The court has granted a 7 day delay for the bill to take effect.

And what of the future? Legislation is being introduced to overturn some of these provisions. The Justice Department has acknowledged it will not prosecute anyone for discussing Abortion. For now! But they might eventually, and retroactively!

If you are online, stop over to the Jewish Post and read more about the legislation and the protest. If you have you own website and wish to show your support by adding a blue ribbon to your web pages we can show you where to get one.

So as another piece of our freedom is chipped away by the bureaucratic fools on the hill, I'm sorry I mean Congress, we shall see what becomes of the last and final frontier we know as the Internet.

*UPDATE

The ACLU and other groups have brought suit to stop the "Decency Provision" of the telecommunications bill. So far they have succedded in having a judge in their favor to make the bill unforceable while the court battle continues.

Various enlightened members of Congress are trying to have the bill amended.

We shall see.


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