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[From Senator Leahy's Office]   For Immediate Release April 10, 1995   Bill To Empower Users and Protect Free Speech On Interactive Communications Systems   Senator Leahy today introduced a bill, S. 714, that takes an important step to empower parents and users of interactive telecommunications systems, such as the Internet, to control the material transmitted to them over those systems. "The Child Protection, User Empowerment, and Free Expression in Interactive Media Study" bill is cosponsored by Senators Robert Kerrey (D-NE) and Herbert Kohl (D-WI).   The bill calls for a fast-track study by the Department of Justice, in consultation with the U.S. Department of Commerce, on the legal and technical issues for empowering users to control the information they receive over electronic interactive services.   Senator Leahy said, "I disagree with pending bills in Congress that would deal with obscenity on the Internet by censoring private online communications, invading our privacy, and deputizing information service providers as smut police. Before legislating to impose heavy-handed regulation on the content of communications, I feel we need more information from law enforcement and telecommunications experts."   The information age has brought a revolution in telecommunications with cheaper, easier to use and faster ways to communicate electronically with people within our own homes and communities, and around the globe. A byproduct of this technical revolution is that supervising our children has taken on a new dimension of responsibility. Many people have raised justifiable concerns about the accessibility of obscene and indecent materials on-line and the ability of parents to monitor and control the materials to which their children are exposed.   Senator Leahy said, "The problem of policing the Internet involves many important issues. We need to protect privacy. We need to help parents protect their children. And we need to protect copyrighted materials from illegal copying. Instead of rushing to regulate the content of information services, we should encourage the development of technology that gives parents and other consumers the ability to control the information that can be accessed over a modem."   Congress should have the benefit of the study called for in S. 714 before it legislates in ways that could severely damage the free flow of information on electronic communications systems and sweep away important constitutional rights.   [End]

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