The Bill is Born

Sponsored by Senator Jim Exon (D-Nebraska), the amendment originated as an independent bill titled Communications Decency Act of 1995, and was intended, according to its sponsor, both to prohibit "the (computer) equivalent of obscene telephone calls" and to prohibit the distribution to children of materials with sexual content. (2)

The CDA changed the language of Title 47, United States Code, Section 223. This section prohibited "obscene or harassing" phone calls and it imposed regulation (administered by the FCC) on telephone services that provide indecent content and prohibits these services from providing legally obscene content. (2)

The newly rewritten code expanded the scope of the above statute from telephones to telecommunications devices and made it a criminal offense to communicate legally obscene or indecent material through said telecommunications devices. The bill also seeks to punish offenders who "knowingly make or makes available" any content or material that is legally obscene or those who "knowingly make or makes available any material which is legally indecent to any person under the age of 18." The penalties for these crimes can include a $250,000 fine and/or two years in a federal prison. (14)