Libertarian Party on Internet Censorship

On February 10, 1996, anticensorship activists held a rally outside the White House in Washington, D.C., protesting Congress' passage of Internet censorship.

Representing the Libertarian Party, William Winter delivered the following speech:

You, the citizens of the Internet, have reason to distrust politicians and political parties.

After all, the Republicans and Democrats just revoked your First Amendment rights, and criminalized the speech that flows from your computers.

So, when a representative of a political party comes before you, it is reasonable of you to ask: "Where do you stand on the issue of electronic free speech?"

And it's understandable that you might ask, "Prove your support for electronic free speech."

Well, there is one political party that has its commitment to electronic free speech written right into its party platform. It's the Libertarian Party.

Our Platform states: "We oppose any abridgment of the freedom of speech through government censorship, regulation or control of communications media, including laws concerning electronic bulletin boards, communications networks, and other interactive electronic media. We hold them to be the functional equivalent of speaking halls and printing presses in the age of electronic communications, and as such deserving of full freedom."

There is one political party that turned its Web site black for 48 hours as part of the world-wide campaign to symbolically protest the new censorship law. It's the Libertarian Party.

And there is one political party that joined the Internet coalition to fight electronic censorship, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, Wired magazine, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and People for the American Way. It's the Libertarian Party.

The Libertarian Party's commitment to electronic free speech is absolute. We do not waver, or back down, or compromise on this issue.

Like you, Libertarians know that the so-called Communications Decency Act is a case of 20th-century politicians using 19th-century laws to control 21st-century technology.

Like you, we understand that this bill threatens to interrupt the rapid evolution of electronic information systems -- an area where America leads the world in innovation.

Like you, we understand that this bill will have a chilling effect on new technologies. A more certain way of guaranteeing permanent second-class status for America is hard to imagine.

Like you, we recognize that this bill isn't needed. The marketplace is rapidly moving to remedy any concerns parents might have about indecent material being available to children.

Like you, we know that his bill usurps the role of parents. We know that parents, not Justice Department bureaucrats, should determine what children see, hear, or download.

And we know that it's especially hypocritical for Republicans -- who bemoan other government programs which weaken the family -- to vote for paternalistic laws appointing Washington bureaucrats as the family censor.

Like you, we understand that this bill is censorship -- an effort by politicians to restrict the freedom of the electronic press. As such, it is a clear violation of the First Amendment.

Like you, we Libertarians are opposed to government censorship in any form -- whether it is high-tech cyber-censorship, or old-fashioned book burning.

Like you, we believe that cyberspace deserves the same robust, expansive definition of free speech as any other communications medium.

Like you, we understand that censorship is censorship ... and, like you, we won't tolerate it!

The Libertarian Party is on your side.

And, like you, we'll keep fighting until this bill -- and every other attempt to censor the Internet -- is revoked, rejected, and repealed!

Thank you.