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Laws of cyberland

In the absence of government regulations, online services abide by their own policies on objectionable material.

In the absence of clear legal precedent or federal regulations governing the use of objectionable material, the major online services operate by their own guidelines. Below are excerpts from agreements outlining the terms of service for subscribers of America Online, CompuServe, and Microsoft Network.

America Online
"You may not use, or allow others to use, your AOL account, either directly or indirectly, to: (1) post, transmit, or promote unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, hateful, racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable content; (2) harass, threaten, embarrass, or cause distress, unwanted attention or discomfort upon another member or user of AOL or other person or entity; (3) post, transmit, promote, link, or facilitate the distribution of sexually explicit or other content which is deemed by AOL to be offensive..."

"Either you or AOL may terminate your members at any time."

"Member agrees not to upload, post or otherwise publish on or over the service, and not to seek on or over the service, any software, file, information, communication or other content: (a) which violates or infringes upon the rights of any other; (b) which, under the circumstances and in CompuServe's good faith judgment, is, or is likely to be perceived by an intended recipient or target as, defamatory, deceptive, misleading, abusive, profane, offensive or inappropriate; (c) which constitutes a threat to, harassment of, or stalking of another..."

"CompuServe reserves the right in its sole discretion (as a matter of right and without formality) to terminate the member's account and this member agreement at any time or to suspend (with or without notice) or terminate access to or use of the service, in whole or in part..."

Microsoft Network
"You may not, under any circumstances, do any of the following: (a) publish, post, distribute or disseminate defamatory, infringing, obscene or other unlawful material or information via MSN; (b) use MSN to threaten, harass, stalk, abuse or otherwise violate the legal rights (including rights of privacy and publicity) of others..."

MSN "reserves the right to terminate or suspend your MSN membership without prior notice..."