The Communications Decency Act, an amendment to the Telecommunications Reform Act, passed in the U.S. Senate by a vote of 84-16, despite massive opposition on the Internet.
Introduced by Nebraska Democrat James Exon, the act calls for fines of up to $100,000 and prison terms of up to two years for people who distribute sexually explicit and other undefined indecent material online.
The House of Representative’s version of the Telecommunications Reform Act does not yet include the language of the Communications Decency Act, which House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia) characterized as a violation of free speech and the right of adults to communicate with each other.
But fears over the effect of the bill might be exaggerated. According to Eileen Kent of Playboy Interactive Services, the bill will never be enforced “because it’s a vague, misdirected book burning, attempt to instill fear in parents. The important thing is to educate children, not to put your head in a bag.”