The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) and artist Barbara Nitke have filed a lawsuit challenging the remaining provisions of the Communications Decency Act, much of which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997.
The act, or CDA, was passed in 1996 and was the first U.S. law designed to allow the regulation of Internet content. The remaining provision of the law bars the publication of material online that is deemed obscene under "contemporary community standards." The lawsuit, filed last week in Federal District Court in New York, challenges that aspect of the law saying it is so broad and vague that it violates the First Amendment freedom of speech protection and could prohibit frank sexual discussion among adults on the Internet.
Under the law, obscenity is determined using local community standards. But applying that standard to the Internet means asking the question whether the local community is the one where the Web site is hosted or the one where it is viewed, said Susan Wright, spokesperson for the NCSF.
This existing CDA provision balances on the narrow difference in the legal definitions of the terms "obscenity" and "indecency." In its CDA ruling, the Supreme Court allowed that the government could investigate and prosecute obscene speech, that is, speech with no redeeming merit.
Those obscenity provisions are too broad and vague in the view of the NCSF.
"What is the local community standard," Wright asked. "Is it where you live? Where the Web site is? Is it the most restrictive community in America? The least?"
The rest of the CDA should be overturned, she said, as it isn't right for members of a small, rural town to be able to determine the community standards of cities like New York or San Francisco.
The NCSF filed the suit because "the CDA could have a dangerous effect on the Internet in the hands of an overzealous administration and this attorney general," Wright said.
Attorney General John Ashcroft indicated a willingness to pursue CDA prosecutions when he met with a number of conservative groups earlier this year, Wright said, noting that the NCSF had obtained copies of information those groups had sent to their members after the meetings.
Ashcroft has come under fire from some groups for his expansion of government surveillance powers after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Ashcroft has responded to those criticisms by charging that his critics are aiding terrorists by raising such concerns.
Wright dismissed notions that Ashcroft is too occupied by antiterrorism efforts to worry about Internet indecency. He made moves in early November that effectively blocked a voter-approved assisted suicide law in Oregon, a measure unrelated to terrorism, she noted.
"He's demonstrated he has the time and resources for other battles (than terrorism)," she said.
NCSF’s Coalition Partners Join Together for Consent Summit The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom held its annual Coalition Partner meeting in Phoenix, Arizona from February 8-10, 2013. The Consent Summit took place Friday evening, and Coalition Partners were able to participate via streaming video to give their input on the new Consent Statement. Go to www.ncsfreedom.org to see the Consent Statement and comment on it. “The Consent Statement…
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE National Coalition for Sexual Freedom NCSF Survey on Consent The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) wants to hear from you! Please take our Consent Counts survey and tell us what you think about consent: www.ncsfreedom.org/survey.html As part of decriminalizing BDSM in the legal codes, we need to be able to articulate a clear definition of consent that the BDSM communities believe in. The results of this…
NCSF Launches the Next Chapter for Consent Counts February 27, 2012 The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) announces two new publications as part of its nationwide campaign, Consent Counts. The Consent Counts Project was launched by the BDSM-leather-fetish communities in 2006 to decriminalize consensual BDSM in U.S. law by ensuring that consent will be recognized as a defense to criminal charges brought under assault laws and other statutes. "For…
Our BDSM communities could be adversely impacted by a well-intentioned, but overly broad, piece of proposed criminal legislation that has been introduced by Senator Christine Kehoe in the California Senate. NCSF is asking all of you to sign and send to NCSF letters (a draft is attached below) that we can introduce if necessary at a hearing likely to be held in April, 2011. The purpose of the bill, SB…
In an indictment rendered by a Grand Jury in the Western District of Missouri on September 9, 2010, five Missouri men allegedly participated in torturing a mentally disabled woman online or in person over a multi-year period when the victim was between the ages of 16 and 24. Among the charges are: Sex Trafficking by Force, Fraud or Coercion, Forced Labor Trafficking, Transportation for Sexual Activity, and Conspiracy. The allegations…
Developed Educational Programs and Outreach Materials
Built Alliances With Sexual Freedom Advocacy Groups
About Consent Counts
NCSF is leading a major national campaign—Consent Counts—to change the laws and police practices that our communities now endure, and to establish that consent is available as a defense in criminal BDSM prosecutions.
BDSM is prosecuted as assault in the U.S., even when it is consensual.
No state or appellate court has allowed consent as a defense to assault in BDSM cases.
Consent Counts is a nationwide project to decriminalize consensual BDSM.
Program Goals: Consent Counts is a nationwide project to decriminalize consensual BDSM through education, advocacy, legal actions and lobbying.