INTERNET FREE EXPRESSION ALLIANCE
EPIC JOINS FREE SPEECH COALITION TO HIGHLIGHT THE POTENTIAL DANGER OF INTERNET RATING AND FILTERING
For Release: December 1, 1997, 10:00 a.m
Contact: David L. Sobel . 202/544-9240
Washington, DC - The Electronic Privacy Information Center today announced that it is joining with 20 other organizations to establish the Internet Free Expression Alliance (IFEA). The new coalition will address the free speech implications of Internet rating and filtering proposals and promote the open exchange of information on the Internet.
The formation of the free speech alliance comes one day before the opening of an Administration-sponsored "summit" on Internet issues. President Clinton is on record as supporting the widespread use of content ratings and filtering techniques to create a "family-friendly Internet." At an earlier "summit" meeting last July, the President said that it "must be our objective" to ensure that the labeling and screening of Internet content "will become standard practice."
As detailed in a report EPIC released today, such rating and filtering systems can block access to a vast amount of valuable information; according to the EPIC report, 99 percent of all online material is typically filtered out by a new "family- friendly" Internet search engine. According to EPIC Legal Counsel David L. Sobel, "It is troubling that the White House has so readily embraced an approach that has the potential to destroy the Internet as an educational resource."
EPIC was a plaintiff in the historic ACLU v. Reno litigation, which led to last summer's landmark Supreme Court decision striking down the Communications Decency Act (CDA). Sobel noted that many other organizations that joined the CDA challenge are involved in the creation of IFEA. "Together, we succeeded in protecting the Internet from government censorship," he said. "The challenge now is to ensure that the protections we won in the Supreme Court are not lost to an ill-conceived technological approach that could prove just as damaging to free expression in this new medium."
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