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Only 2 federal witnesses in CDA trial

Government lawyers plan to call only two witnesses to testify at the Communications Decency Act trial.

Government lawyers have notified the American Civil Liberties Union that they plan to call only two witnesses to testify for the prosecution at the second half of the Communications Decency Act trial on April 12 and 15.

The witnesses scheduled to appear are Special Agent Howard A. Schmidt of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and Dan R. Olsen, computer science professor at Brigham Young University.

ACLU attorneys said they expected a longer line of witnesses at the trial, which will determine the future of free speech in cyberspace. "I was a little surprised that they only chose two witnesses," said Christopher Hansen, legal counsel for the ACLU. "But you never know what they're going to do, and that's the fun of law."

Schmidt is expected to present an online demonstration to the court and will download "indecent" material, including sexually explicit text and graphics.

Olsen is expected to testify that there is a technical way to comply with the act. His theory would require content providers to embed a tag into every URL they provide to block sites deemed inappropriate.

"I don't know exactly what he plans to do, but a lot of questions at the last trial were asked concerning HTML and how easy it is to embed a tag in HTML code," Hansen said.

After this round of testimony, the ACLU and the American Library Association lawyers will present witnesses in response to the government's testimony on April 26.

Final arguments are scheduled for June 3. The judges are expected to issue a ruling by the end of that month.

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