Testimony of Sen. James Exon

Let me say that the Exon-Coats amendment does not destroy, does not retard, does not chill accepted information, pictures or speech. To the contrary. We are trying to make the Internet system safer, better, and to make it more frequently used. I do not know the authenticity of the statement that I am about to make. But I have read that it has been estimated that up to 75 percent of present computer owners have refused to join the Internet system with their home computer, precisely because they know and they fear-and evidently they have seen or been advised as to what I have here in the blue book. Once again, before anyone votes against the Exon-Coats amendment, if they are interested, I am willing to share this information with them. It has pictures in it that were taken directly off the Internet system last week. So I simply say we are not trying to destroy, we are not trying to retard and we are certainly not trying to chill the great system that is the Internet. Anyone who believes that is very badly misinformed. I simply say that those who know what is going on with the Internet today-those who have seen it firsthand, those who are concerned about making the Internet the greatest thing that has ever happened as far as communications exchange is concerned-are the ones that are supporting the Exon-Coats amendment. We want to make it even bigger, and we want to make it even better, but not for raunchy pornography that would turn most people off. And to the 25,000 people who want to call this Senator a barbarian, I simply say that, evidently, they are so selfish-at least their actions are so selfish, that they simply say: We do not want to give up anything. We want to be able to see what we want to see, where we want to see it, any time we want to see it. * * * Not only are children being exposed to the most perverted pornography and inappropriate communications, but adults are also being electronically stalked and harassed. I have had the opportunity to share with several members of the Senate, on both sides of the aisle, what I refer to as the ``blue book.'' When I have shown this to members on both sides of the aisle, there has been shock registered, obviously, on the faces of my colleagues, shock because few understand what is going on today with regard to the pollution of the Internet ... I hope that all of my colleagues, if they are interested, will come by my desk and take a look at this disgusting material, pictures of which were copied off the free Internet only last week, to give you an idea of the depravity on our children, possibly our society, that is being practiced on the Internet today. This is what the Coats-Exon amendment is trying to correct ... If nothing is done now, the pornographers may become the primary beneficiary of the information revolution. This modification represents a carefully balanced response to growing concerns about inappropriate use of telecommunications technologies. .. . This legislation attempts to make the information superhighway a little bit safer for families and children to travel. The time to act is now.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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