The Internet and the First Amendment: Current issues in U.S. government efforts to control online content

Adam POWELL <>
Freedom Forum


Recent changes in U.S. national, state and local laws have placed new restrictions on the content of text, audio and video transmitted over the Internet.

Many of these laws are being challenged in the courts, but just as the Communications Decency Act, ruled illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997, was largely resurrected in 1998 in a new law nicknamed “CDA-II,” the struggle over content control in U.S. legislatures and courts shows no sign of abating.

This panel, through papers and oral presentations, would present highlights of a six-month series of research papers and conferences on this subject that the foundation will present in cities across the U.S. starting in January, 1999.

Vint Cerf has agreed to launch the series with a keynote presentation at the first conference, on January 11 in Arlington, Virginia. That conference will feature presentations on topics including “CDA-II,” intellectual property, filters and ratings, and the regulation of webcasting.

Panelists will be selected from among the presenters at the Arlington forum and at the subsequent conferences at the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, the Media Studies Center in New York City, the Pacific Coast Center in San Francisco and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

The panel will be chaired and coordinated by Adam Clayton Powell III, Vice President of Technology and Programs at The Freedom Forum, who supervises the foundation’s forums and programs on information technologies and new media. In the past, Powell served as vice president of news programming at National Public Radio, and manager of network radio and television news for CBS News. He is the co-author of "Lethargy ‘96: How the Media Covered a Listless Campaign," and he has contributed to four recent books, "The Internet for Broadcasters," "Demystifying Media Technology," "Radio: the Forgotten Medium," and "Death by Cheeseburger: High School Journalism in the 1990's and Beyond." Articles by Powell have appeared recently in Wired magazine, Media Ethics Quarterly, Reason, and RTNDA Communicator.