I can see some very positive things happening as a result of the Communications Decency Act.
What were once simple cybersurfers logging in to go read suck.com and see what weirdness may have emerged on the web that day, perhaps slowly sinking into isolation, are now banding together through their monitors in a virtual Hands Across the Internet. Suddenly computer geeks are violently concerned with their Constitutional Rights and the preservation of the First Amendment. Indeed, nothing wakes a person up to his/her rights like having those rights threatened or taken away.
The People of the Internet are now seeing themselves as a whole--as a unique segment of American and World society. We are realizing the power a group of people has when acting as a like-minded unit. We the People are learning, as a group, that freedom is nothing to be taken for granted and must be continually fought for to be preserved. Yes, We are becoming what the media refers to as a Special Interest Group; a group of voters whose concerns will need to be addressed by any candidate for office if they wish to be elected.
And, as The Cause becomes more acute in our minds, We need to think like voters and American citizens, not just computer-users who want to use the seven deadly words in our email.
If we want to stop the CDA, the most important thing any of us can do right now is register to vote if we haven't already. Once we register to vote, we must DO IT. Research the candidates in your party's primary elections. Find out what they think about the CDA and communications regulation in general. Find out what they know about the internet. My opinion is that most don't know anything at all. Our beloved Sen. Exon has proven his cyber-ignorance beyond the shadow of any doubt. Of course doing these things will require effort and vigilance. Those who would take away our freedoms rely most of all on our complacency. Our laziness is what gives them all that they need to put us in virtual chains.
The black pages were useful; they greatly facilitated the solidarity I spoke of above. But they didn't influence politicians, or more importantly, the general non-wired public at all. We need to take our fight to the non-virtual streets. Tell your Mom who has never seen a newsgroup. Tell your neighbor who doesn't know HTML from the USFL. Don't send your congressman an e-mail, send him hard copy. Remember how to use WordPerfect or MS Word? Windows Write will do. Send a "real" letter to your Senator. You can see how much effect those spambot duplicated emails had.
No, we must step outside our virtual world to fight this battle. And the most important of those steps will be into the voting booth. Study your candidates; from your local city councilman, all the way up to President. As many have observed, this litigation is just beginning. If we leave it to the courts, they might fail us. You can't put too much faith in just one or two people, especially when they were appointed by George Bush. Tell your congressional reps that they had better repeal this outrageous legislation while they still can--before election day--or they might not get the chance to correct this unconstitutional mistake.
But to echo my first paragraph, I love what I'm seeing on the web now. WE have only begun to realize just how much power we truly have. This is a turning point for America, and I don't think that's an overstatement. The virtual community should and will become the true arbiters of democracy, because of the speed and facility of communication we have at our fingertips. Thank you Dave Winer! History will remember you!