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Internet

Compromise Reached on Internet Smut

According to today's New York Times, civil rights groups and some commercial online services, including America Online, have changed their stance and have accepted certain restrictions on pornographic content as proposed by Congress.

The new legislation, drafted by Representative Rick White (R-Washington), retains portions of the Senate Bill passed in June, and is spearheaded by Senator Jim Exon (D-Nebraska). The House bill would change the Senate prohibition against making "indecent" materials available to children to a prohibition on materials "harmful to children." This is a much narrower restriction. The House bill would also expand the Senate bill's protection granted to online services and Internet service providers who use technology to keep children clear of sexually explicit materials.

The Times reports that those against any restrictions whatsoever on online and Internet transmissions have conceded that Congress is sure to include such prohibitions in the broader telecommunications reform bill that is now in committee. These groups will no longer try to stop this legislation entirely, but rather are focusing their efforts on trying to fend off even more serious restrictions as proposed by the Christian Coalition and conservative Republicans like Representative Henry J. Hyde (R-Illinois).

The House and Senate conference committee is expected this week to debate legislation that would set penalties on transmission of pornography.