Contact: Jonathan Wallace
New York, New York, February 6, 1998-- The Ethical Spectacle, a monthly webzine focusing on the collision between ethics, law and politics in our society, is a plaintiff in an ACLU litigation filed today against the library system of Loudoun County, Virginia.
"I welcome the opportunity to work with the ACLU again," said Jonathan Wallace, a New York-based software executive and attorney who is the Spectacle's publisher. Wallace was also a plaintiff in two other ACLU actions, ACLU v. Reno (which invalidated the Communications Decency Act) and ACLU v. Miller (overthrowing the Georgia anti-anonymity law.)
Last fall, the Loudoun County board of library trustees passed the nation's most restrictive Internet policy, mandating the use of censorware on terminals used by adults as well as children. Attorney Robert Corn-Revere of Hogan and Hartson in Washington D.C. filed suit on behalf of nonprofits People for the American Way and Mainstream Loudoun, and a group of local parents and educators. Today's ACLU action, termed an "intervention" in the existing Loudoun litigation, is on behalf of the Spectacle and a group of other websites blocked by X-Stop, the software from Log On Data Corporation installed by the Loudoun libraries. The two actions argue that the use of censorware by public libraries violates the First Amendment.
"I have no idea why Log On blocks my site," Wallace said. "It does not meet their criteria of blocking only material that is obscene under federal law." Last October, Wallace, who writes frequently on censorware issues, published The X-Stop Files, an article revealing that X-Stop also blocked the Quaker website, the American Association of University Women, the AIDS Quilt, and numerous other socially valuable sites.
The Ethical Spectacle has also been blocked in whole or part by four other censorware products. Wallace commented, "This proves that censorware companies, and the people who scan the web for sites to add to the blacklist, are incapable of distinguishing between illegal speech such as obscenity, and protected speech about censorship, pornography, safe sex and other controversial topics."
Wallace is co-author with Mark Mangan of Sex, Laws and Cyberspace (New York: Henry Holt, 1996), a book about Internet censorship. He is also a member of the Censorware Project, an activist group which recently published its first report, From Ada to Yoyo: Blacklisted by CyberPatrol.