Netizens across Usenet discussion groups on the Internet were expectedly jubliant over today's ruling in Philadelphia.
Many users, euphoric over the decision to protect their right to free speech, voiced support for the decision throughout the day, mostly to groups dedicated to cyber-rights discussions such as alt.censorship and alt.politics.datahighway. The newsgroups followed the proceedings with particular interest because many objections raised by the Communications Decency Act were centered on Usenet postings.
Usenet groups are public, free-floating discussion areas distributed on servers throughout the Internet covering every topic from horticulture to metermaids to C++ tools. Most Internet service providers and proprietary online services, including America Online and CompuServe, have access to the groups.
One of the first postings on today's decision came from Time magazine reporter Philip Elmer-DeWitt, the author of a controversial article last year on Net pornography that many online activists denounced as inaccurate and inflammatory. "CBS Radio reported at 9 AM [Eastern time] that the Philadelphia appeals court has found the CDA unconstitutional," Elmer-DeWitt announced in his posting.
After that, the celebration commenced.
"I FEEL GOOD! Independence Day has come three weeks early for all of us here in cyberspace!!! The CDA suite is headed for the Supreme Court, and in the meantime we must turn up the heat on our Congressmen and Senators and keep it turned up! We must not allow Congress to come up with any more attempts to censor the 'Net!" --Dean, alt.censorship
"Finally I can post the true definition of SNAFU as per the dictionary. Indeed, a day worth celebrating when one can use what Websters has given to us." --Charles Smith, alt.privacy
"This is a major battle victory, but the war is not yet finished. No doubt the Justice Department will appeal to the Supreme Court. And then, after that we'll see Congress, probably after the election, try to pass something like the CDA. [But today's] ruling also slows down the momentum of those in Congress who want to ram censorship and government-control on the Internet." --Jon Noring, alt.society.civil-liberty
"I think the Administration deliberately sandbagged the CDA. Clinton made the censors happy by signing it...I was giving 5-1 on this decision. 3-1 it would be a clean sweep. And I don't bet on less than a sure thing. Al already had my vote--I guess I'll have to vote for Billy too." --Gary Goodman, alt.censorship
Viewing these and other Usenet postings requires a newsreader. Most messages are posted to several groups at the same time.
[C|NET SPECIAL REPORT: Internet attempts self-regulation----Communications Decency Act rejected----Decision may not be appealed----Supreme Court would likely back ruling----CDA supporters vow fight----Timeline tracks law's path----Attorney assessments on CNET radio]
The full text of the Communications Decency Act ruling is available on the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the ACLU Web sites. A complete listing of recent First Amendment and other cases decided by the Supreme Court is available through a searchable index maintained by Case Western Reserve. An archive of RealAudio files of Supreme Court oral arguments and opinions can be heard at Northwestern University's Academic Technologies Department.