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Word Count: 552
Telecommunications act of 1996 In an attempt to take control of telecommunication technology congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 This massive act comprehensively addresses virtually every current aspect of telecommunications It is the first major telecommunications legislation enacted since the Communications Act of 1934 which essentially established the air waves as public property regulated by the government Major provisions in the media include major restructuring of the telephone industry deregulation of the cable industry and limitations in content of broadcast and network media In the Bell breakup of 1984 the seven regional bells were now able to compete in the long distance arena Long distance companies may now offer local service There are no more prohibitions on cross-ownership in the telephone or cable industries In fact phone companies may now offer cable service and cable companies may offer telephone service While much of the bills spirit is that of deregulation some of the Act imposes strict new regulation Chief among these is the Communications Decency Act which is embedded in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 This is by far the most controversial and disputed portion of the Telecom Act The Communications Decency Act which is aimed at the internet imposes stiff criminal penalties for any person who transmits obscene materials over a computer network The American Civil Liberties Union upon passage of the Act promptly filed an injunction in the United States District Court in Pennsylvania The ACLU contended that indecent material was constitutionally protected under the first amendment and that any regulation thereof was forbidden The future of the Communications Decency Act looks shaky Unless it is rewritten with the questioned portions repealed it is unlikely to survive in this day and age In the telephone industry The Act permits Bell Operating Companies BOCs or the Baby Bells and GTE to offer inter LATA Local Access and Transport Areas service only when all entry barriers to competition are removed
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