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Furniss, Jon; Marwil, Jeremy (ed.) / Wisconsin engineer
Volume 100, Number 2 (February, 1996)

Schultz, Jennifer
Regulation of the internet,   pp. 18-19


Page 18


Regulation of the Internet
Sex, eroticism, pornography
and the Internet is a combination
that has caused widespread debate
among the government, Internet users
and parents. Access to pornographic
material through the Internet has raised
an outcry as to what children and
teenagers, the computer literate
members of today's families, are
exposed to. In response, the Senate
attempted to enact the Communications
Decency Act of 1995. This was the first
step in regulating the Internet. How-
ever, the House of Representatives
countered the Act by prohibiting the
Federal Communications Commission
from regulating the Internet.
urgent circumstance, because it is our
children who are the computer experts
in our nation's families." The contro-
versy over the regulation of the Internet
is divided as each viewpoint argues
about the accessibility of material and
the regulation of the use of the Internet.
materials containing sexual content to
children. The Electronic Frontier
Foundation pointed out that the Act
"...imposes content restrictions on
computer communications that would
chill the First Amendment protected
speech, and, in effect, restrict adults in
During the debate over the bill,
Republican Senator Dan Coats stated,
"We face a unique, disturbing and
The Communications Decency Act of
1995 was signed by the Senate on June
14, 1995, by a vote of 84-16. According
to the article, "Vice
jxaDu Ur -ith INCIf 4rom
1Xa1U U t i tl11I 1Nc L1- l
TIME July 3, 1995,
"The Communications
Decency Act of 1995,
would make it a crime,
punishable up to
$100,000 and two
years in jail, to
transmit 'obscene,
lewd, lascivious,
filthy, or indecent'
images, email, text
files, and any other
forms of communica-
tion online." The Act
prohibited the
equivalent of obscene
In many housenolas, cnildren are me rain
users. Are they being harmed by what's o
I UU1!IPULCd telephone calls ana tne
n the net?     distribution of
the public forums of computer net-
works to writing and reading only such
content as is suitable for children."
The House of Representatives on
August 4, 1995, countered the Commu-
nications Decency Act by prohibiting
the FCC from regulating the Internet.
The bill passed by a vote of 420 to 4 in
the House. It "protected online service
providers from liability for porno-
graphic materials uploaded and
transmitted by their users."
What type of material has caused all
this debate? A study done by the
Carnegie Mellon University in Pitts-
burgh, Pennsylvania, outlined what
material was available over the Internet.
The study analyzed 917,410 sexually
explicit pictures, descriptions, short
stories, and film clips and concluded
that 83.5 percent of these were porno-
W  ISCONSIN
ENGINEER
There are no simple answers to
the debate over the regulation of
the Internet
18


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