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Online Freedom and Democracy

This site was originally created by the staff of The WELL as part of the "24 hours of Democracy" initiative following the passage of the CDA in 1996. The WELL is home to conferences about the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Computers, Freedom & Privacy. There's plenty of work ahead!

The WELL Staff Simply Affirms The First Amendment

Old anti-censorship mural on a truck parked by the WELL offices

Free speech has always been necessary to dream of, strive for and maintain democracy. And when the speakers accept the ownership of their words, free speech is profoundly responsible and powerful speech.

The WELL was founded almost eleven years ago on the premise that You Own Your Own Words, taking credit and responsibility for your expressions. This simple creed has become a powerful code for a free and valued community dialog. New legislation jeopardizes not just the integrity of our members' debates and explorations, but of the U.S. Constitution.

Government intervention in conversation is overkill. There is no reason to interfere unless existing laws are violated, and complaints made. It is not acceptable for any government to make service providers into thought police, or virtual innkeepers into virtual hall monitors.

Our community members deserve the same kind of freedom to discuss and take responsibility for expressing and shaping ideas as do the authors of works found in bookstores, newspapers and public libraries. They should be able to have the kinds of casual conversations they could easily have in cafes, bars or meeting rooms around the globe, in all their physical homes. They should be able to decide what is appropriate for their children, rather than having any government interfere with their parental duties.

We are saddened by the Decency language in the Telecom Reform Act, and we continue to call for its repeal.

This page went up with signatures of the WELL staff on February 22, 1996.

More WELL Members' 24 Hours Pages collected by Steve Rhodes.
About The WELL
The Virtual Communities Front Page with some fine samples of WELL conversations about online culture

Statement drafted by Gail Williams, photo by Gonzalo Moreno