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Communications Decency Act

 The Communications Decency Act (CDA) was Title V of the United States' Telecommunications Act of 1996.

More info on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communications_Decency_Act

 

 TITLE V--OBSCENITY AND VIOLENCE

SUBTITLE A--OBSCENE, HARASSING, AND WRONGFUL UTILIZATION OF

TELECOMMUNICATIONS FACILITIES

SEC. 501. SHORT TITLE.

This title may be cited as the `Communications Decency Act of

1996'.

SEC. 502. OBSCENE OR HARASSING USE OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS FACILITIES

UNDER THE COMMUNICATIONS ACT OF 1934.

Section 223 (47 U.S.C. 223) is amended--

(1) by striking subsection (a) and inserting in lieu thereof:

`(a) Whoever--

`(1) in interstate or foreign communications--

`(A) by means of a telecommunications device knowingly--

`(i) makes, creates, or solicits, and

`(ii) initiates the transmission of,

any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other

communication which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy,

or indecent, with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or

harass another person;

`(B) by means of a telecommunications device knowingly--

`(i) makes, creates, or solicits, and

`(ii) initiates the transmission of,

any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other

communication which is obscene or indecent, knowing that

the recipient of the communication is under 18 years of

age, regardless of whether the maker of such communication

placed the call or initiated the communication;

`(C) makes a telephone call or utilizes a

telecommunications device, whether or not conversation or

communication ensues, without disclosing his identity and

with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person

at the called number or who receives the communications;

`(D) makes or causes the telephone of another repeatedly

or continuously to ring, with intent to harass any person

at the called number; or

`(E) makes repeated telephone calls or repeatedly

initiates communication with a telecommunications device,

during which conversation or communication ensues, solely

to harass any person at the called number or who receives

the communication; or

`(2) knowingly permits any telecommunications facility under

his control to be used for any activity prohibited by paragraph

(1) with the intent that it be used for such activity,

shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned

not more than two years, or both.'; and

(2) by adding at the end the following new subsections:

`(d) Whoever--

`(1) in interstate or foreign communications knowingly--

`(A) uses an interactive computer service to send to a

specific person or persons under 18 years of age, or

`(B) uses any interactive computer service to display in

a manner available to a person under 18 years of age,

any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other

communication that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms

patently offensive as measured by contemporary community

standards, sexual or excretory activities or organs, regardless

of whether the user of such service placed the call or

initiated the communication; or

`(2) knowingly permits any telecommunications facility under

such person's control to be used for an activity prohibited by

paragraph (1) with the intent that it be used for such activity,

shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned

not more than two years, or both.

`(e) In addition to any other defenses available by law:

`(1) No person shall be held to have violated subsection (a)

or (d) solely for providing access or connection to or from a

facility, system, or network not under that person's control,

including transmission, downloading, intermediate storage,

access software, or other related capabilities that are

incidental to providing such access or connection that does not

include the creation of the content of the communication.

`(2) The defenses provided by paragraph (1) of this

subsection shall not be applicable to a person who is a

conspirator with an entity actively involved in the creation or

knowing distribution of communications that violate this

section, or who knowingly advertises the availability of such

communications.

`(3) The defenses provided in paragraph (1) of this

subsection shall not be applicable to a person who provides

access or connection to a facility, system, or network engaged

in the violation of this section that is owned or controlled by

such person.

`(4) No employer shall be held liable under this section for

the actions of an employee or agent unless the employee's or

agent's conduct is within the scope of his or her employment or

agency and the employer (A) having knowledge of such conduct,

authorizes or ratifies such conduct, or (B) recklessly

disregards such conduct.

`(5) It is a defense to a prosecution under subsection

(a)(1)(B) or (d), or under subsection (a)(2) with respect to

the use of a facility for an activity under subsection

(a)(1)(B) that a person--

`(A) has taken, in good faith, reasonable, effective, and

appropriate actions under the circumstances to restrict or

prevent access by minors to a communication specified in

such subsections, which may involve any appropriate

measures to restrict minors from such communications,

including any method which is feasible under available

technology; or

`(B) has restricted access to such communication by

requiring use of a verified credit card, debit account,

adult access code, or adult personal identification number.

`(6) The Commission may describe measures which are

reasonable, effective, and appropriate to restrict access to

prohibited communications under subsection (d). Nothing in this

section authorizes the Commission to enforce, or is intended to

provide the Commission with the authority to approve, sanction,

or permit, the use of such measures. The Commission shall have

no enforcement authority over the failure to utilize such

measures. The Commission shall not endorse specific products

relating to such measures. The use of such measures shall be

admitted as evidence of good faith efforts for purposes of

paragraph (5) in any action arising under subsection (d).

Nothing in this section shall be construed to treat interactive

computer services as common carriers or telecommunications

carriers.

`(f)(1) No cause of action may be brought in any court or

administrative agency against any person on account of any activity

that is not in violation of any law punishable by criminal or civil

penalty, and that the person has taken in good faith to implement a

defense authorized under this section or otherwise to restrict or

prevent the transmission of, or access to, a communication

specified in this section.

`(2) No State or local government may impose any liability for

commercial activities or actions by commercial entities, nonprofit

libraries, or institutions of higher education in connection with

an activity or action described in subsection (a)(2) or (d) that is

inconsistent with the treatment of those activities or actions

under this section: [Italic->] Provided, however [<-Italic] , That

nothing herein shall preclude any State or local government from

enacting and enforcing complementary oversight, liability, and

regulatory systems, procedures, and requirements, so long as such

systems, procedures, and requirements govern only intrastate

services and do not result in the imposition of inconsistent

rights, duties or obligations on the provision of interstate

services. Nothing in this subsection shall preclude any State or

local government from governing conduct not covered by this section.

`(g) Nothing in subsection (a), (d), (e), or (f) or in the

defenses to prosecution under subsection (a) or (d) shall be

construed to affect or limit the application or enforcement of any

other Federal law.

`(h) For purposes of this section--

`(1) The use of the term `telecommunications device' in this

section--

`(A) shall not impose new obligations on broadcasting

station licensees and cable operators covered by obscenity

and indecency provisions elsewhere in this Act; and

`(B) does not include an interactive computer service.

`(2) The term `interactive computer service' has the meaning

provided in section 230(e)(2).

`(3) The term `access software' means software (including

client or server software) or enabling tools that do not create

or provide the content of the communication but that allow a

user to do any one or more of the following:

`(A) filter, screen, allow, or disallow content;

`(B) pick, choose, analyze, or digest content; or

`(C) transmit, receive, display, forward, cache, search,

subset, organize, reorganize, or translate content.

`(4) The term `institution of higher education' has the

meaning provided in section 1201 of the Higher Education Act of

1965 (20 U.S.C. 1141).

`(5) The term `library' means a library eligible for

participation in State-based plans for funds under title III of

the Library Services and Construction Act (20 U.S.C. 355e et

seq.).'.

SEC. 503. OBSCENE PROGRAMMING ON CABLE TELEVISION.

Section 639 (47 U.S.C. 559) is amended by striking `not more than

$10,000' and inserting `under title 18, United States Code,'.

SEC. 504. SCRAMBLING OF CABLE CHANNELS FOR NONSUBSCRIBERS.

Part IV of title VI (47 U.S.C. 551 et seq.) is amended by adding

at the end the following:

`SEC. 640. SCRAMBLING OF CABLE CHANNELS FOR NONSUBSCRIBERS.

`(a) SUBSCRIBER REQUEST- Upon request by a cable service

subscriber, a cable operator shall, without charge, fully scramble

or otherwise fully block the audio and video programming of each

channel carrying such programming so that one not a subscriber does

not receive it.

`(b) DEFINITION- As used in this section, the term `scramble'

means to rearrange the content of the signal of the programming so

that the programming cannot be viewed or heard in an understandable

manner.'.

SEC. 505. SCRAMBLING OF SEXUALLY EXPLICIT ADULT VIDEO SERVICE

PROGRAMMING.

(a) REQUIREMENT- Part IV of title VI (47 U.S.C. 551 et seq.), as

amended by this Act, is further amended by adding at the end the

following:

`SEC. 641. SCRAMBLING OF SEXUALLY EXPLICIT ADULT VIDEO SERVICE

PROGRAMMING.

`(a) REQUIREMENT- In providing sexually explicit adult

programming or other programming that is indecent on any channel of

its service primarily dedicated to sexually-oriented programming, a

multichannel video programming distributor shall fully scramble or

otherwise fully block the video and audio portion of such channel

so that one not a subscriber to such channel or programming does

not receive it.

`(b) IMPLEMENTATION- Until a multichannel video programming

distributor complies with the requirement set forth in subsection

(a), the distributor shall limit the access of children to the

programming referred to in that subsection by not providing such

programming during the hours of the day (as determined by the

Commission) when a significant number of children are likely to

view it.

`(c) DEFINITION- As used in this section, the term `scramble'

means to rearrange the content of the signal of the programming so

that the programming cannot be viewed or heard in an understandable

manner.'.

(b) EFFECTIVE DATE- The amendment made by subsection (a) shall

take effect 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act.

SEC. 506. CABLE OPERATOR REFUSAL TO CARRY CERTAIN PROGRAMS.

(a) PUBLIC, EDUCATIONAL, AND GOVERNMENTAL CHANNELS- Section

611(e) (47 U.S.C. 531(e)) is amended by inserting before the period

the following: `, except a cable operator may refuse to transmit

any public access program or portion of a public access program

which contains obscenity, indecency, or nudity'.

(b) CABLE CHANNELS FOR COMMERCIAL USE- Section 612(c)(2) (47

U.S.C. 532(c)(2)) is amended by striking `an operator' and

inserting `a cable operator may refuse to transmit any leased

access program or portion of a leased access program which contains

obscenity, indecency, or nudity and'.

SEC. 507. CLARIFICATION OF CURRENT LAWS REGARDING COMMUNICATION OF

OBSCENE MATERIALS THROUGH THE USE OF COMPUTERS.

(a) IMPORTATION OR TRANSPORTATION- Section 1462 of title 18,

United States Code, is amended--

(1) in the first undesignated paragraph, by inserting `or

interactive computer service (as defined in section 230(e)(2)

of the Communications Act of 1934)' after `carrier'; and

(2) in the second undesignated paragraph--

(A) by inserting `or receives,' after `takes';

(B) by inserting `or interactive computer service (as

defined in section 230(e)(2) of the Communications Act of

1934)' after `common carrier'; and

(C) by inserting `or importation' after `carriage'.

(b) TRANSPORTATION FOR PURPOSES OF SALE OR DISTRIBUTION- The

first undesignated paragraph of section 1465 of title 18, United

States Code, is amended--

(1) by striking `transports in' and inserting `transports or

travels in, or uses a facility or means of,';

(2) by inserting `or an interactive computer service (as

defined in section 230(e)(2) of the Communications Act of 1934)

in or affecting such commerce' after `foreign commerce' the

first place it appears;

(3) by striking `, or knowingly travels in' and all that

follows through `obscene material in interstate or foreign

commerce,' and inserting `of'.

(c) INTERPRETATION- The amendments made by this section are

clarifying and shall not be interpreted to limit or repeal any

prohibition contained in sections 1462 and 1465 of title 18, United

States Code, before such amendment, under the rule established in

United States v. Alpers, 338 U.S. 680 (1950).

SEC. 508. COERCION AND ENTICEMENT OF MINORS.

Section 2422 of title 18, United States Code, is amended--

(1) by inserting `(a)' before `Whoever knowingly'; and

(2) by adding at the end the following:

`(b) Whoever, using any facility or means of interstate or

foreign commerce, including the mail, or within the special

maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States,

knowingly persuades, induces, entices, or coerces any individual

who has not attained the age of 18 years to engage in prostitution

or any sexual act for which any person may be criminally

prosecuted, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title

or imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.'.

SEC. 509. ONLINE FAMILY EMPOWERMENT.

Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 201 et

seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

`SEC. 230. PROTECTION FOR PRIVATE BLOCKING AND SCREENING OF

OFFENSIVE MATERIAL.

`(a) FINDINGS- The Congress finds the following:

`(1) The rapidly developing array of Internet and other

interactive computer services available to individual Americans

represent an extraordinary advance in the availability of

educational and informational resources to our citizens.

`(2) These services offer users a great degree of control

over the information that they receive, as well as the

potential for even greater control in the future as technology

develops.

`(3) The Internet and other interactive computer services

offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse,

unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad

avenues for intellectual activity.

`(4) The Internet and other interactive computer services

have flourished, to the benefit of all Americans, with a

minimum of government regulation.

`(5) Increasingly Americans are relying on interactive media

for a variety of political, educational, cultural, and

entertainment services.

`(b) POLICY- It is the policy of the United States--

`(1) to promote the continued development of the Internet and

other interactive computer services and other interactive media;

`(2) to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that

presently exists for the Internet and other interactive

computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation;

`(3) to encourage the development of technologies which

maximize user control over what information is received by

individuals, families, and schools who use the Internet and

other interactive computer services;

`(4) to remove disincentives for the development and

utilization of blocking and filtering technologies that empower

parents to restrict their children's access to objectionable or

inappropriate online material; and

`(5) to ensure vigorous enforcement of Federal criminal laws

to deter and punish trafficking in obscenity, stalking, and

harassment by means of computer.

`(c) PROTECTION FOR `GOOD SAMARITAN' BLOCKING AND SCREENING OF

OFFENSIVE MATERIAL-

`(1) TREATMENT OF PUBLISHER OR SPEAKER- No provider or user

of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the

publisher or speaker of any information provided by another

information content provider.

`(2) CIVIL LIABILITY- No provider or user of an interactive

computer service shall be held liable on account of--

`(A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to

restrict access to or availability of material that the

provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious,

filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise

objectionable, whether or not such material is

constitutionally protected; or

`(B) any action taken to enable or make available to

information content providers or others the technical means

to restrict access to material described in paragraph (1).

`(d) EFFECT ON OTHER LAWS-

`(1) NO EFFECT ON CRIMINAL LAW- Nothing in this section shall

be construed to impair the enforcement of section 223 of this

Act, chapter 71 (relating to obscenity) or 110 (relating to

sexual exploitation of children) of title 18, United States

Code, or any other Federal criminal statute.

`(2) NO EFFECT ON INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW- Nothing in this

section shall be construed to limit or expand any law

pertaining to intellectual property.

`(3) STATE LAW- Nothing in this section shall be construed to

prevent any State from enforcing any State law that is

consistent with this section. No cause of action may be brought

and no liability may be imposed under any State or local law

that is inconsistent with this section.

`(4) NO EFFECT ON COMMUNICATIONS PRIVACY LAW- Nothing in this

section shall be construed to limit the application of the

Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 or any of the

amendments made by such Act, or any similar State law.

`(e) DEFINITIONS- As used in this section:

`(1) INTERNET- The term `Internet' means the international

computer network of both Federal and non-Federal interoperable

packet switched data networks.

`(2) INTERACTIVE COMPUTER SERVICE- The term `interactive

computer service' means any information service, system, or

access software provider that provides or enables computer

access by multiple users to a computer server, including

specifically a service or system that provides access to the

Internet and such systems operated or services offered by

libraries or educational institutions.

`(3) INFORMATION CONTENT PROVIDER- The term `information

content provider' means any person or entity that is

responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or

development of information provided through the Internet or any

other interactive computer service.

`(4) ACCESS SOFTWARE PROVIDER- The term `access software

provider' means a provider of software (including client or

server software), or enabling tools that do any one or more of

the following:

`(A) filter, screen, allow, or disallow content;

`(B) pick, choose, analyze, or digest content; or

`(C) transmit, receive, display, forward, cache, search,

subset, organize, reorganize, or translate content.'.

SUBTITLE B--VIOLENCE

SEC. 551. PARENTAL CHOICE IN TELEVISION PROGRAMMING.

(a) FINDINGS- The Congress makes the following findings:

(1) Television influences children's perception of the values

and behavior that are common and acceptable in society.

(2) Television station operators, cable television system

operators, and video programmers should follow practices in

connection with video programming that take into consideration

that television broadcast and cable programming has established

a uniquely pervasive presence in the lives of American children.

(3) The average American child is exposed to 25 hours of

television each week and some children are exposed to as much

as 11 hours of television a day.

(4) Studies have shown that children exposed to violent video

programming at a young age have a higher tendency for violent

and aggressive behavior later in life than children not so

exposed, and that children exposed to violent video programming

are prone to assume that acts of violence are acceptable

behavior.

(5) Children in the United States are, on average, exposed to

an estimated 8,000 murders and 100,000 acts of violence on

television by the time the child completes elementary school.

(6) Studies indicate that children are affected by the

pervasiveness and casual treatment of sexual material on

television, eroding the ability of parents to develop

responsible attitudes and behavior in their children.

(7) Parents express grave concern over violent and sexual

video programming and strongly support technology that would

give them greater control to block video programming in the

home that they consider harmful to their children.

(8) There is a compelling governmental interest in empowering

parents to limit the negative influences of video programming

that is harmful to children.

(9) Providing parents with timely information about the

nature of upcoming video programming and with the technological

tools that allow them easily to block violent, sexual, or other

programming that they believe harmful to their children is a

nonintrusive and narrowly tailored means of achieving that

compelling governmental interest.

(b) ESTABLISHMENT OF TELEVISION RATING CODE-

(1) AMENDMENT- Section 303 (47 U.S.C. 303) is amended by

adding at the end the following:

`(w) Prescribe--

`(1) on the basis of recommendations from an advisory

committee established by the Commission in accordance with

section 551(b)(2) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996,

guidelines and recommended procedures for the identification

and rating of video programming that contains sexual, violent,

or other indecent material about which parents should be

informed before it is displayed to children: [Italic->]

Provided, [<-Italic] That nothing in this paragraph shall be

construed to authorize any rating of video programming on the

basis of its political or religious content; and

`(2) with respect to any video programming that has been

rated, and in consultation with the television industry, rules

requiring distributors of such video programming to transmit

such rating to permit parents to block the display of video

programming that they have determined is inappropriate for

their children.'.

(2) ADVISORY COMMITTEE REQUIREMENTS- In establishing an

advisory committee for purposes of the amendment made by

paragraph (1) of this subsection, the Commission shall--

(A) ensure that such committee is composed of parents,

television broadcasters, television programming producers,

cable operators, appropriate public interest groups, and

other interested individuals from the private sector and is

fairly balanced in terms of political affiliation, the

points of view represented, and the functions to be

performed by the committee;

(B) provide to the committee such staff and resources as

may be necessary to permit it to perform its functions

efficiently and promptly; and

(C) require the committee to submit a final report of its

recommendations within one year after the date of the

appointment of the initial members.

(c) REQUIREMENT FOR MANUFACTURE OF TELEVISIONS THAT BLOCK

PROGRAMS- Section 303 (47 U.S.C. 303), as amended by subsection

(a), is further amended by adding at the end the following:

`(x) Require, in the case of an apparatus designed to receive

television signals that are shipped in interstate commerce or

manufactured in the United States and that have a picture screen 13

inches or greater in size (measured diagonally), that such

apparatus be equipped with a feature designed to enable viewers to

block display of all programs with a common rating, except as

otherwise permitted by regulations pursuant to section 330(c)(4).'.

(d) SHIPPING OF TELEVISIONS THAT BLOCK PROGRAMS-

(1) REGULATIONS- Section 330 (47 U.S.C. 330) is amended--

(A) by redesignating subsection (c) as subsection (d); and

(B) by adding after subsection (b) the following new

subsection (c):

`(c)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), no person shall ship

in interstate commerce or manufacture in the United States any

apparatus described in section 303(x) of this Act except in

accordance with rules prescribed by the Commission pursuant to the

authority granted by that section.

`(2) This subsection shall not apply to carriers transporting

apparatus referred to in paragraph (1) without trading in it.

`(3) The rules prescribed by the Commission under this subsection

shall provide for the oversight by the Commission of the adoption

of standards by industry for blocking technology. Such rules shall

require that all such apparatus be able to receive the rating

signals which have been transmitted by way of line 21 of the

vertical blanking interval and which conform to the signal and

blocking specifications established by industry under the

supervision of the Commission.

`(4) As new video technology is developed, the Commission shall

take such action as the Commission determines appropriate to ensure

that blocking service continues to be available to consumers. If

the Commission determines that an alternative blocking technology

exists that--

`(A) enables parents to block programming based on

identifying programs without ratings,

`(B) is available to consumers at a cost which is comparable

to the cost of technology that allows parents to block

programming based on common ratings, and

`(C) will allow parents to block a broad range of programs on

a multichannel system as effectively and as easily as

technology that allows parents to block programming based on

common ratings,

the Commission shall amend the rules prescribed pursuant to section

303(x) to require that the apparatus described in such section be

equipped with either the blocking technology described in such

section or the alternative blocking technology described in this

paragraph.'.

(2) CONFORMING AMENDMENT- Section 330(d), as redesignated by

subsection (d)(1)(A), is amended by striking `section 303(s),

and section 303(u)' and inserting in lieu thereof `and sections

303(s), 303(u), and 303(x)'.

(e) APPLICABILITY AND EFFECTIVE DATES-

(1) APPLICABILITY OF RATING PROVISION- The amendment made by

subsection (b) of this section shall take effect 1 year after

the date of enactment of this Act, but only if the Commission

determines, in consultation with appropriate public interest

groups and interested individuals from the private sector, that

distributors of video programming have not, by such date--

(A) established voluntary rules for rating video

programming that contains sexual, violent, or other

indecent material about which parents should be informed

before it is displayed to children, and such rules are

acceptable to the Commission; and

(B) agreed voluntarily to broadcast signals that contain

ratings of such programming.

(2) EFFECTIVE DATE OF MANUFACTURING PROVISION- In prescribing

regulations to implement the amendment made by subsection (c),

the Federal Communications Commission shall, after consultation

with the television manufacturing industry, specify the

effective date for the applicability of the requirement to the

apparatus covered by such amendment, which date shall not be

less than two years after the date of enactment of this Act.

SEC. 552. TECHNOLOGY FUND.

It is the policy of the United States to encourage broadcast

television, cable, satellite, syndication, other video programming

distributors, and relevant related industries (in consultation with

appropriate public interest groups and interested individuals from

the private sector) to--

(1) establish a technology fund to encourage television and

electronics equipment manufacturers to facilitate the

development of technology which would empower parents to block

programming they deem inappropriate for their children and to

encourage the availability thereof to low income parents;

(2) report to the viewing public on the status of the

development of affordable, easy to use blocking technology; and

(3) establish and promote effective procedures, standards,

systems, advisories, or other mechanisms for ensuring that

users have easy and complete access to the information

necessary to effectively utilize blocking technology and to

encourage the availability thereof to low income parents.

SUBTITLE C--JUDICIAL REVIEW

SEC. 561. EXPEDITED REVIEW.

(a) THREE-JUDGE DISTRICT COURT HEARING- Notwithstanding any other

provision of law, any civil action challenging the

constitutionality, on its face, of this title or any amendment made

by this title, or any provision thereof, shall be heard by a

district court of 3 judges convened pursuant to the provisions of

section 2284 of title 28, United States Code.

(b) APPELLATE REVIEW- Notwithstanding any other provision of law,

an interlocutory or final judgment, decree, or order of the court

of 3 judges in an action under subsection (a) holding this title or

an amendment made by this title, or any provision thereof,

unconstitutional shall be reviewable as a matter of right by direct

appeal to the Supreme Court. Any such appeal shall be filed not

more than 20 days after entry of such judgment, decree, or order.

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