Reno: A Period of Internet Development

by Kyla Perkins

The Supreme Court Decision of Reno v. ACLU was reached during a period of internet development, the beginning stages of online speech. Within this context, Reno v. ACLU set a precedent that online speech would be regulated similar to print speech, meaning an argument for censorship must succeed under strict scrutiny.

This decision was made in response to a challenge to the Communications Decency Act, which attempted to censor obscene or indecent online material from children. Because of the vague language and overbreadth of the Act, it was deemed unconstitutional for violating the First Amendment rights of adults who were legally allowed to view such content.

This decision influenced the further development of online speech as a platform for dialogue within diverse and expansive communities by determining how online speech should be regarded and handled in future cases. If the Court had instead applied regulation, the modern understanding of internet speech might be quite different.

All images and music used under a Creative Commons license.

Works cited

Anglerberger, T. (2004). Physicist’s tool is felt world wide. Roanoke Times (VA).

AP (1996). A world wide web screening program. The New York Times.

Edwards, G. (1997). This is the year for deregulation to start paying off. The Roanoke Times (VA).

Lewis, P. (1996). World wide web gets mixed reviews on first presidential ballot. The New York Times.

Noam, E. (1997) An unfettered internet? Keep dreaming. The New York Times.

N.p. Telecommunications Act of 1996. Federal Communications Commission.

N.p. (2015).Telecommunications Industry. Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History.

Parry, S. (2011). Never mind the broadband. New Internationalist.


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