February 1996: The Communications Decency Act is signed into law as part of President Clinton's sweeping Telecommunications Act reforms. The American Civil Liberties Union and a wide variety of Internet users, IT companies and nonprofits file a legal challenge to the law.
June 1996: A three-member federal panel in Philadelphia blocks enforcement of the CDA on First Amendment grounds; the Department of Justice appeals the ruling.
August 1996: The world's first Conference Against Sexual Exploitation of Children opens in Stockholm; the proliferation of child pornography on the Internet is a major topic of discussion. An FBI child abuse expert testifies that "the Internet is like heaven for the pedophiles."
October 1996: The FBI investigates spam mail messages showing up on America Online from an address in Queens, N.Y., announcing the sale of videotapes of children engaged in sexual acts.
January 1997: A coalition of Internet groups files a First Amendment challenge to a law passed by the Georgia state assembly that bars Internet users from using pseudonyms and from communicating anonymously.
February 1997: City officials in Boston order the installation of filtering software on all public library PCs after parents complain that their kids were using the library computers to search for pornographic Web sites.
March 1997: The ACLU and its companion groups file a legal challenge to a New York law targeting adult pedophiles who use the Internet to lure children.