Is adult internet chat protected speech
However, more elaborate documents, commonly known as Web "pages," are also prevalent. The creation of "adult zones" is by no means a novel concept. Each has its own address--"rather like a telephone number." Web pages frequently contain information and sometimes allow the viewer to communicate with the page's (or "site's") author. States have long denied minors access to certain establishments frequented by adults. 1997) criminalizes the "knowing" transmission of "obscene or indecent" messages to any recipient under 18 years of age. The court's judgment enjoins the Government from enforcing § 223(a)(1)(B)'s prohibitions insofar as they relate to "indecent" communications, but expressly preserves the Government's right to investigate and prosecute the obscenity or child pornography activities prohibited therein. (d) Regardless of whether the CDA is so vague that it violates the Fifth Amendment, the many ambiguities concerning the scope of its coverage render it problematic for First Amendment purposes. After making extensive findings of fact, a three judge District Court convened pursuant to the Act entered a preliminary injunction against enforcement of both challenged provisions. Newsgroups also serve groups of regular participants, but these postings may be read by others as well.
Section 223(d) prohibits the "knowin[g]" sending or displaying to a person under 18 of any message "that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards, sexual or excretory activities or organs." Affirmative defenses are provided for those who take "good faith, . The injunction against enforcement of § 223(d) is unqualified because that section contains no separate reference to obscenity or child pornography. (b) A close look at the precedents relied on by the Government-- 475 U. 41--raises, rather than relieves, doubts about the CDA's constitutionality. Thus, these cases provide no basis for qualifying the level of First Amendment scrutiny that should be applied to the Internet. For instance, its use of the undefined terms "indecent" and "patently offensive" will provoke uncertainty among speakers about how the two standards relate to each other and just what they mean. In addition to posting a message that can be read later, two or more individuals wishing to communicate more immediately can enter a chat room to engage in real time dialogue--in other words, by typing messages to one another that appear almost immediately on the others' computer screens. The District Court found that at any given time "tens of thousands of users are engaging in conversations on a huge range of subjects." The best known category of communication over the Internet is the World Wide Web, which allows users to search for and retrieve information stored in remote computers, as well as, in some cases, to communicate back to designated sites. Syllabus Two provisions of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA or Act) seek to protect minors from harmful material on the Internet, an international network of interconnected computers that enables millions of people to communicate with one another in "cyberspace" and to access vast amounts of information from around the world. Each of 's other two prongs also critically limits the uncertain sweep of the obscenity definition.
The CDA's "indecent transmission" and "patently offensive display" provisions abridge "the freedom of speech" protected by the First Amendment. These precedents, then, do not require the Court to uphold the CDA and are fully consistent with the application of the most stringent review of its provisions. Contrary to the Government's argument, the CDA is not saved from vagueness by the fact that its "patently offensive" standard repeats the second part of the three prong obscenity test set forth in prong reduces the inherent vagueness of its own "patently offensive" term by requiring that the proscribed material be "specifically defined by the applicable state law." In addition, the CDA applies only to "sexual conduct," whereas, the CDA prohibition extends also to "excretory activities" and "organs" of both a sexual and excretory nature. Several major national "online services" such as America Online, Compu Serve, the Microsoft Network, and Prodigy offer access to their own extensive proprietary networks as well as a link to the much larger resources of the Internet.