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SPJ supports decision to stop enforcement of law

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As a district judge in Philadelphia temporarily halts the enforcement of a "communications decency provision" in the telecommunications act passed recently by Congress, the Society of Professional Journalists continues its support for the permanent assurance of free speech for Internet users.

"Protecting the First Amendment is a black and white issue, whether it's in print or cyberspace," said Kelly Hawes, SPJ president. "Any thought of restricting on-line speech needs to be stopped in its tracks."

The decency provision would place a ban on transmitting "indecent" materials to minors by means of the Internet. SPJ supported the American Civil Liberties Union in its efforts to seek the temporary injunction against the provision and is studying its options now in regard to a legal challenge.

"Judge Buckwalter's decision is a positive step toward ensuring our right to speak freely, but the idea that our government would consider and approve such a measure in the first place put us two steps back. We have to make sure that the First Amendment ramifications of the telecom bill aren't lost somewhere amid the increase in mergers and competition this act encourages. We've got to continue to make our government leaders understand how essential a free press and free speech are to the continued success of this country."

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