WASHINGTON -- When President Clinton signed the Communications
Decency Act into law last year, he and his top advisers knew that
legislation, regulating indecent material on the Internet, was on
shaky constitutional ground.
White House officials immediately began planning a new approach
Internet smut to replace the flawed law, even as administration
lawyers were writing their brief defending the act.
The result can be found in the broad new administration policy on
Internet commerce and content that is to be announced by the
president this week.
Clinton's answer to cyberporn: new technology allowing parents to
block offensive material that might otherwise reach their children,
stricter parental supervision of children surfing the Internet and
stronger self-regulation by the on-line industry.
In a statement issued by the White House after the decency act was
struck down by the Supreme Court on Thursday, the president said he
would convene industry executives and groups representing parents,
teachers and librarians to seek a solution to the problem of online
pornographic material. The meeting is to be held Tuesday.
"We can and must develop a solution for the Internet that is as
powerful for the computer as the V-chip will be for the television,
and that protects children in ways that are consistent with
free-speech values," Clinton said.
"With the right technology and rating systems," he said, "we can
help insure that our children don't end up in the red-light
Members of Congress who supported the decency law criticized the
justices and vowed to redouble efforts to write a bill that would
survive court scrutiny to protect children from online pornography.
"The Supreme Court, in its ruling against the Communications
Decency Act, has entered dangerous, unexplored territory," said one
of the voided law's sponsors, Sen. Daniel Coats, R-Ind.
"A judicial elite is undermining democratic attempts to address
pressing social problems. The Supreme Court is purposely disarming
the Congress in the most important conflicts of our time."
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said she would soon introduce a bill
that would make it a felony to exploit chat rooms designed for
children, require Web site operators to rate their pages for content
and help provide filtering software for households with children and
But free-speech and Internet industry groups said no law could
effectively monitor and regulate content on the rapidly expanding
global information network without trampling on fundamental