Clinton Comments on the 'E-Chip'

Rohit Khare (
Wed, 16 Jul 1997 18:08:19 -0400

It's amusing that monopoly on browsers is claimed to be a useful thing

The tangible progress is that some directories will ask for ratings at
site-registration -- I don't know, I never even go to these sites to
register, I use a robot like submit-it to avoid the hassle.



Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
July 16, 1997


The East Room

12:45 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Lois Jean, and thank you, Steve Case.
Thank you, Mr. Vice President, for all the work you've done on this issue.
And to Secretary Daley, Commissioner Varney, Deputy Attorney General
Waxman, and the members of Congress who had to go for a vote. I thank all
of you for your interest. And thank you, all of you, who come here from the
various companies who were part of the Vice President's meeting this
morning and from other interested groups.

I think it's fair to say that history will evaluate the Internet as having
sparked a revolution in information perhaps every bit as profound as the
printing press. For today, at the click of a mouse, children can tap into
the resources of the Library of Congress, to a great museum, communicate
with classrooms around the world.

I am particularly proud to point out that the Internet allows us now to
join beyond the Earth. Just since July 4, NASA's Mars Pathfinder Web site
has received more than 27 million visits. And we are very proud of that,
and proud of NASA.

But we all know and we've heard the horror stories about the inappropriate
material for children that can be found on the Internet. We know children
can be victimized over the Internet. After the Supreme Court struck down
the portion of the Communications Decency Act last month affecting this as
an abridgement of free speech, we brought together industry leaders and
groups representing teachers, parents, librarians to discuss where to go next.

This morning there was a discussion that I believe can fairly be said to
have reached a consensus about how to pave the way to a family-friendly
Internet without paving over the constitutional guarantees of free speech
and free expression. The plan has three components -- new technologies,
enforcement of existing laws, more active participation of parents.

As you have heard already with regard to technology, the computer industry
is developing a whole toolbox full of technologies that can do for the
Internet what the V-chip will do for television. Some of the tools are
already widely in use, as Steve said. They give parents the power to unlock
-- or and to lock the digital doors to objectionable content.

Now we have to make these tools more readily available to all parents and
all teachers in America, and as new tools come on line, we have to
distribute them quickly and we have to make sure that parents are trained
to use them.

In an extremely adroit use of language in our meeting earlier, one of the
leaders said, well, Mr. President, you've talked about how technologically
inept you are; perhaps you would be our guinea pig as each new thing comes
along -- (laughter) -- and then we could certainly certify that, if you can
figure out how to use it, anybody can. (Laughter.) And so I sort of
volunteered. Having been damned with faint praise, I enjoyed that. (Laughter.)

But I think it is important, it is important to know not only that things
exist but that they are being used and that they can be used. So we had a
little laugh about what is a very serious element of this whole endeavor.

Today several industry leaders are taking major steps in this direction.
I'm pleased to announce first that Netscape Communications has committed to
add family-friendly controls to the next release of its popular Internet
browser. Parents who use the Netscape browser to explore the Internet will
be able to tell the browser precisely what types of materials they do not
wish their children to see. Microsoft, which also offers a popular Internet
browser, has already incorporated this technology.

Therefore, with Netscape's pledge today, we now have assurance that 90
percent of all software used to explore the Internet will have
family-friendly controls built right in. It's also important to note that
all of the major companies that offer Internet service now provide some
form of family-friendly controls. And I commend all of them for that.

For these controls to work to their full potential, we also need to
encourage every Internet site, whether or not it has material harmful for
young people, to label its own content as the Vice President described just
a few moments ago. To help to speed the labeling process along, several
Internet search engines -- the Yellow Pages of cyberspace, if you will --
will begin to ask that all Web sites label content when applying for a spot
in their directories.

I want to thank Yahoo, Excite and Lycos for this important commitment.
You're helping greatly to assure that self-labeling will become the
standard practice. And that must be our objective.

Beyond technology, we must have strict enforcement of existing laws -- the
anti-stalking, child pornography and obscenity laws as they apply to
cyberspace. In the past three months alone, the FBI has expanded by 50
percent the staff committed to investigating computer-related exploitation
of minors, and established a task force to target computer child
pornography and solicitation. In the past six months, the Department of
Justice has increased the number of lawyers working in its Child
Exploitation and Obscenity Section by 50 percent. We simply must not allow
pornographers and pedophiles to exploit a wonderful medium to abuse our

And, finally, we must recognize that in the end, the responsibility for our
children's safety will rest largely with their parents. Cutting-edge
technology and criminal prosecutions cannot substitute for responsible
mothers and fathers. Parents must make the commitment to sit down with
their children and learn together about the benefits and challenges of the
Internet. And parents, now that the tools are available, will have to take
upon themselves the responsibility of figuring out how to use them.

I think it's fair to say that all parents will likely lag behind their
children in facility on the Internet, but at least if we understand the
tools that are available, it will be possible to do the responsible and
correct thing.

Thanks to the talents, to the creativity, to the commitments of so many of
you assembled today, we have now, therefore, a road map toward constructive
steps for a family-friendly Internet. There is still a lot to do. Parent
groups and educators must work to help hone our labeling systems so that
they will actually screen out materials we don't want our children to see
and, as others have said today, with equal energy help to highlight the
materials that serve our children best. That is very, very important.

The Internet community must work to make these labels as common as food
safety labels are today, to continue to expand access to family-friendly
tools, including software to protect children's privacy from unscrupulous

With a combination of technology, law enforcement and parental
responsibilities, we have the best chance to ensure that the Internet will
be both safe for our children and the greatest educational resource we have
ever known. And that is our common commitment, and for that, I thank you
all very much. (Applause.)

Rohit Khare /// MCI Internet Architecture (BOS) ///
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