Supporters of the CDA ranged from the religious right to conservative democratic senators. Parent groups are concerned with the prevalence of pornography and predators who surf the net looking for victims. Law enforcement agents are similarly worried about the ability for anyone to spread messages of hate and directions for the creation of weapons of mass destruction.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is opposed to using the Internet as a way to purvey messages of hate across the globe. She strongly supports any legislation which can prevent the spread of hate messages and bomb making. "There is a difference between free speech and teaching others how to kill. Thatís what these (bomb-making) diagrams do. Itís not just to learn, but to kill. The language is so incendiary, not academic," Feinstein said in an interview in Editor and Publisher. (3)
Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center has been following online communications for months, tracking the spread of various Nazi-type groups around the country. Hier is in favor of the portion of the CDA that treats Internet communications like telephone communications. "We need to keep in mind that the obscene or threatening phone caller has neither his privacy nor his speech protected when he threatens a member of the community via phone. Why are those protections afforded if he launches the same attack via the Internet?," Heir said at a press conference in front of the Museum of Tolerance. (3)
After the CDA came under fire, the proponents of the bill began to look at compromise. The attorney for the defense, Deputy Solicitor General Seth Waxman argued that the basic premise of the CDA was to protect children from easy access to pornographic images and messages that promote hate and illegal activities. (12) Waxman agreed that the term "indecent" may not be a fair standard to use, especially when it could cover such things as AIDS prevention information or a parent admonishing their college freshmen to practice safe sex. But the attorney still argued in favor of some sort of Internet regulation. (12)
Congress passed the CDA into law with little or no deliberation, assuming that a bill which attempted to protect children from Internet smut could be nothing but good. Although the Supreme Court has in effect vetoed their first attempt, many members of Congress are vowing to try again. (13)
Already proposed is legislation supporting a sort of v-chip for the Internet. The Clinton administration has already come forward in favor of such a chip. Also proposed is the requirement of Internet providers to include software which will prevent children from accessing certain portions of the net. (18)
Members of Congress feel this will be an acceptable method to pass the burden of childrenís Internet access to parents, where many felt it should have been in the first place.
Bruce A. Taylor, president and chief counsel of the National Law Center for Children and Families, said the CDA and the surrounding controversy has been one of the best ways to make parents aware of the possibilities of filtering their childrenís Internet access. (18)
"Without the CDA, many companies would not be working so hard to create filtering devices," Taylor said. "Although filtering is not perfect, it is capable of solving most of the problems involved." (18)