This posting is maintained for historical purposes only.

This Open letter is based upon correspondence between SafeSurf and members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives.

We encourage you to contact your representatives, now. Tell them your feelings.
Censorship is not the answer. Parental Empowerment IS!
Stand up for a free Internet and against pedophiles.

Dear Senator Exon and Congressman Cox,

We are SafeSurf, a parent's online organization dedicated to protecting children on the Internet without censorship. Here are our thoughts on effective legislation that will protect children and the rights of their parents.

We applaud the Cox-Wyden amendment's provision aimed at protecting "good samaritan" providers who seek to establish filtering systems or restrict access to obscene material from civil suits. This would encourage the experimentation necessary for the emergence of a child safe Internet.

Still, the parents of America are deeply worried and will only be assured by legislation that contains some "teeth" to protect their children online. We do not seek to "disarm" proposed legislation, only to focus it specifically where it is needed.

The solution is to focus specifically on protecting children from pedophiles, by mirroring existing laws with a cyber-equivalent. This is done by specifically defining the law to only punish one who deliberately seeks to entice a minor to obscene or dangerous materials by knowingly circumventing or subverting a rating or filtering system set in place to protect children on the Internet.

The goal is to define the action punishable by law as one that requires planning and forethought aimed at enticing or delivering dangerous materials directly to minors. Therefore, the placement of a lewd picture on a adult oriented newsgroup would continue to be fully protected, while the deliberate and knowing act of posting an obscene picture to Barney's Playhouse newsgroup could be considered an attempt to corrupt children.

A site that deliberately undermines a rating system to misrepresent itself as being designed for children or "child safe", but presents obvious adult themes such as sexual content and/or violence, could be considered to be enticing children to danger. That site would not be punished for its content, but for the fact that it deliberately tried to entice children to this information by taking actions designed to subvert rating and filtering software setup to block that type of material from reaching minors.

Basically, if one does not make a deliberate effort to bypass child protection systems to entice children to dangerous or obscene material, he should not be punished merely for publishing information on the Internet. Under the same logic, conversation between adults in chat rooms not specified as being specifically for children should also be fully protected.

The legislation should be aimed at punishing the act of child enticement, not at the free exchange of information. Adult-oriented sites would be not be held liable for either accidental access or for "hacker" access by a minor as long as they did not take "active" child enticing steps or operate in a grossly negligent way that deliberately encouraged such access or assisted children in bypassing filtering systems.

This type of legislation would be viewed as both protecting the free flow of information, as well as aiding parents in protecting their children by barring the "evil scum" whose sole purpose for existence is to harm children.

With the passage of legislation described above, life on the adult side of the Internet would continue as normal, while a new child safe cyber-playground would be empowered to develop. The government would be aiding the Internet in restructuring itself instead of punishing it for being a resource of information.

We are ready to present information on how a voluntary rating and filtering system can effectively protect children without sacrificing the information rights of their parents. We are also sending you a copy of our voluntary rating system which has already been adopted by many world wide web sites and filtering software developers.

Thank you for your attention.



    knowingly within the United States or in foreign communications
    with the United States by means of telecommunications device
    circumvents or subverts a "child protection" rating, filtering,
    blocking, or certification system or logs in to a designated 
    "child safe" area to make or make available any indecent comment,
    request, suggestion, proposal, image to any person under 18 years
    of age regardless of whether the maker of such communication 
    placed the call or initiated the communication shall be fined 
    not more than $100,000 or imprisoned not more than two years 
    or both.

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