Now that the Communications Decency Act has suffered a setback in the courts, U.S. Representative Rick White (R-Washington) has reintroduced a bill that would establish a formal congressional Internet Caucus to prevent what he calls another mistake like the CDA.
"The one thing we discovered when we had our debate on the CDA is that Congress really didn't understand too much about the Net and I think that's one of the reasons we made a bad decision in that bill," said White. "The whole point of the Internet Caucus is to get a group of members together who will go out and try to encourage other members to use the Net to understand it so that when we vote on laws we don't make the mistake we did last time."
White had fought against passage of the CDA in February and founded the Internet Caucus in March to educate his fellow members who are not familiar with the Net and the issues it raises. "I think a lot of members of Congress have heard about it [the Net], but a lot of them don't really know what it's all about," said White.
The caucus now has 48 members, including Representative Rick Boucher (D-Virginia) and Senate Commerce Committee chairman Larry Pressler (R-South Dakota). White reintroduced the bill today establishing the Caucus to underscore the importance of education about new technologies.
The text of the bill outlines White's goals in establishing the caucus: "Whereas approximately 18 million people use the Internet and nearly 100 million expect to use it by 1998; Whereas the Internet is changing the way the world communicates, conducts business, and educates; Whereas the Internet can lead to a more open democratic process if fully utilized by elected representatives; Whereas many Members of the House of Representatives and Senate do not use electronic mail or worldwide web sites; Whereas an increase in the usage and knowledge by Members of the Internet will lead to better policy decisions regarding the Internet and better communicate with the Internet community."
The caucus is already organizing Internet technology demonstration for members this month and Net policy forums throughout the summer.
Congress educates itself about Net