Coalition Letter to Attorney General on Enforcement
of Child Online Protection Act


November 4, 1998

Honorable Janet Reno
Attorney General
Department of Justice
10th Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Attorney General Reno:

As concerned organizations, we urge you to refrain from prosecutions under the Child Online Protection Act. Like the Communications Decency Act, which was struck down by the Supreme Court last year, this law will immediately damage freedom of expression, the bedrock value at the core of the First Amendment. The act will also impose a structure on the Internet that places free speech and privacy in permanent jeopardy.

As your department itself recognized in its October letter to Congress, provisions of the Act claim to protect minors from "harmful" materials, but in reality limit all adults to reading only that material which is appropriate for children. Because it suffers from the same problems identified in Reno v. ACLU, and for the reasons stated in the Justice Department's letter, we urge you not to enforce the Act.



Chris Finan, Executive Director
American Booksellers Foundation for Freedom of Expression

Laura W. Murphy, Washington Office Director
American Civil Liberties Union

Chris Oarr, Executive Director
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

Aki Namioka, President
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility

Barry Steinhardt, President
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Marc Rotenberg, Executive Director
Electronic Privacy Information Center

Elizabeth Pritzker, Executive Director & Legal Counsel
First Amendment Project

Judith Krug, Executive Director
Freedom to Read Foundation

Marci Lockwood, Executive Director
Institute for Global Communications

H. L. Hall, President
Journalism Education Association

David Greene, Program Director
National Campaign for Freedom of Expression

Joan Bertin, Executive Director
National Coalition Against Censorship

Audrie Krause, Executive Director

Jenny Crawford, Executive Director
Oregon Coalition for Free Expression

Bennett Haselton, Co-ordinator

Carole Shields, President
People for the American Way Foundation