There are less than two weeks to go until the historic Supreme Court hearing that will eventually decide the fate of the Communications Decency Act, and the Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition wants to spread the word.
The coalition, which represents some 55,000 individual Internet users who challenged the legislation along with the American Civil Liberties Union, has posted a "Countdown to the Supreme Court" icon on its Web page (www.ciec.org/), delivering current updates on the status of the case.
Also posted on the site are instructions for adding the animated icon to other Web sites. The icon provides a hot link to the CIEC site. Once the link is added, the image counting down the days to the March 19 Supreme Court hearing will be automatically updated each day from the CIEC server, coalition officials said.
The coalition plans to keep a running tally of how many sites incorporate the icon, which will also be reported on its Web site.
The high court's ruling on the CDA, expected by June, will have a huge impact across the IT industry. If the court overturns a lower court's ruling last summer blocking its enforcement on First Amendment grounds, the legislation criminalizing the transmission of "indecent" content online to minors is likely to open a Pandora's box of legal problems for Web site authors, Internet service providers and commercial online services.
Supporters of the CDA, enacted in February 1996 as part of President Clinton's sweeping Telecommunications Act, say the law is designed to protect children from sexually explicit online material, but opponents fear the law would have a chilling effect on Constitutionally protected speech by adults.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments from both sides on March 19 before beginning deliberations.
More information on the CDA is available at the CIEC's Web site and at the ACLU's Web site, www.aclu.org/.