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|Restricting drug related information sites|
Opponents of a bill to restrict drug-related information online are asking members of the House Judiciary Committee to reject it at a scheduled vote Tuesday morning.
The panel is set to consider the Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act, which makes it a federal crime to publish or link to information related to illegal drugs or drug advertising.
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"You have all sorts of First Amendment problems with that," said Marv Johnson, legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union.
Civil libertarians said the measure should be rewritten to remove restrictions on Web publishing and eliminate a controversial section that would allow police to conduct secret searches and seizures.
Johnson has lobbied both Democratic and Republican members of the Judiciary Committee, arguing that the bill is so vague it could put even mainstream publishers at risk.
"Nobody knows what part is going to get you in trouble," he says. "If you teach someone how to use a Bunsen burner, is this sufficient to get you indicted? Nobody really knows."
The American Booksellers Association also has cautioned Congress about approving the restrictions.
One portion of the bill would make it a crime "to teach or demonstrate the manufacture of a controlled substance." Another section would allow police to surreptitiously enter someone's house with a warrant without telling them about it -- a notification that currently is required by law.
Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), a member of the committee, may introduce an amendment to the anti-methamphetamine bill to remove some of the more controversial sections.
"There's a possibility we will, but we haven't made any internal decisions," an aide to Baldwin said.
Proponents of the methamphetamine bill -- the Senate has already unanimously approved a similar measure -- said it's necessary to shut meth labs and combat the illegal drug market.
"Meth ensnares our children, endangers us all, and causes users to commit other crimes," Senator John Ashcroft (R-Missouri) said when introducing the Senate bill last year. "In 1998, the percentage of 12th graders who used meth was double the 1992 level. Meth-related emergency room incidents are up 63 percent over that same period."
Since the House version, sponsored by Representative Chris Cannon and 19 other members of Congress, is different from the Senate bill, a conference committee would be necessary to reconcile the two pieces of legislation.
To avoid that possibility, some House Judiciary Committee members are considering replacing Cannon's bill with the Senate legislation.
But the Senate bill is even more far-reaching. It says Internet providers and hosting services must remove any website within 48 hours after the government objects to it -- and no court order is necessary.
"If an interactive computer service receives a notice ... that a particular online site residing on a computer server controlled or operated by the provider is being used to violate this section, the provider shall within 48 hours, not including weekends and holidays, remove or disable access to the matter residing at that online site that allegedly violates this section," the bill says.
If the House Judiciary Committee does not vote on the meth bill on Tuesday at its 10 a.m. hearing, which will be cybercast, the vote is scheduled to take place Wednesday.
End of story
possibly old but it could happen again.
I took the one less traveled by,And that has made all the difference.
Did you look at the date on this article? When I read "Senator Ashcroft" I knew something was wrong and, sure enough, it was dated 03:00 AM May. 09, 2000 PT.
There's a terrorist behind every Bush.