US Telecommunications Reform Legislation Nears Passage, Stirs Protest

[21 December 1995] Telecommunications Reform legislation emerged from the House - Senate conference committee ready for final passage by both houses and signature by the President. Despite some backlash among Republican legislators apparently created by Vice President Gore's favorable comments on the bill, it appears likely that the bill will be passed and signed by President Clinton in its current form. The bill includes penalties for transmitting "indecent" material over telecommunication networks such as the Internet, and this language has sparked considerable protest among some groups. Several of these called for a "National Day of Protest" to be held on December 12, and newspapers carried reports of demonstrations in San Francisco and elsewhere. Proposals made in conference to change the "indecent" standard, criticized as vague and potentially unconstitutional, to a more narrow and legally well-established standard of information "harmful to minors" did not garner sufficient support to alter the final bill.