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Website available to report Internet obscenity violations

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Morality in Media, a national organization that works to curb illegal traffic in obscenity and uphold standards of decency in media, has launched a website as a resource for educating the public and reporting possible violations of Internet obscenity laws.

The site, www.obscenitycrimes.org, reiterates that there is no First Amendment protection for obscene materials; distributing obscene materials on the Internet is a crime under U.S. laws; U.S. attorneys are responsible for enforcing federal Internet obscenity laws; and citizens should report possible violations of Internet obscenity laws.

According to a March 2002 public opinion poll on the site, 81 percent of Americans said they supported vigorous enforcement of federal Internet obscenity laws.

Visitors to the site may request that the local U.S. attorney investigate possible violations of Internet obscenity laws by completing a report form with their name and address and the URL address of the offending site. The hardcore material is then described by selecting words and phrases from a list.

“Morality in Media (MIM) does not expect U.S. Attorneys to initiate a prosecution in response to each completed Report Form they receive,” the website notes. “MIM does expect U.S. Attorneys to take reports of possible violations of obscenity laws seriously and to initiate prosecutions in appropriate cases.”

Morality in Media noted that it will periodically publish on the website the number of reports forwarded to each U.S. attorney and the number of obscenity prosecutions initiated by each U.S. attorney.

“It is estimated that nine out of 10 children between the ages of 8 and 16 have been exposed to obscene material on the Internet,” said Attorney General John Ashcroft at a recent training seminar for federal prosecutors on how to prosecute obscenity cases. “In most of these cases, this exposure is accidental and occurs when a child — often in the process of doing homework — uses a seemingly innocent sounding word to search for information or pictures.”

Also on the Morality in Media site, visitors may sign a petition to the president, attorney general and members of Congress, urging vigorous enforcement of obscenity laws.

“Opinion polls indicate that a large majority of the American people believes the breakdown of morality is one of the most important issues facing the country,” the petition states. “A driving force behind this breakdown is the flood of illegal hardcore pornography pouring into our communities, homes and children’s minds. This flood has happened in large measure because Federal obscenity laws have not been vigorously enforced.”

Help for parents, help for porn victims and addicts, information about pornography and the First Amendment, current news and other resources are available on the website.

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