The FBI says it will not investigate charges that CompuServe is making pornography available to children, according to a report in today's Columbus Dispatch, but a Christian watchdog group vowed not to let the matter drop.
The American Family Association, which leveled the charges against the Ohio-based online service, contends that CompuServe is in violation of the federal Communications Decency Act because pornographic material can be obtained through its service.
After the FBI said this morning that it would not pursue the charges passed on by the Justice Department, AFA director of governmental affairs Patrick Trueman announced that he has written to Attorney General Janet Reno asking her to personally review his organization's complaint. "Making pornography available to children, as CompuServe has done, is exactly what the CDA was designed to prevent," Trueman wrote in his letter to Reno.
The AFA official said he is also contacting congressional sponsors of the CDA in an attempt to marshal support for an investigation. "It does no good for Congress to pass laws to protect if the FBI is unwilling to enforce them," Trueman wrote in his letter to members of Congress.
In response to a request by German officials, CompuServe blocked access to a number of sexually explicit Internet discussion groups earlier this year. The company later restored access to the newsgroups but only after promoting the use of parental control software Cyber Patrol for blocking adult-oriented content.
The second-largest online service also recently announced that it has joined with the Interactive Services Association, the National Consumers League, and other organizations to address such issues as parental content control, consumer protection, and user privacy through Project OPEN (Online Public Education Network).
The Justice Department has reportedly decided not to move on prosecuting CDA violators until a special panel of three federal judges who convened today in Philadelphia rules on the constitutionality of the decency law.