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Editor Battles Internet Decency

The editor of an Internet magazine is trying to stop an Internet decency law from taking effect.

The Child Online Protection Act is to take effect on Friday. The Act requires commercial Web sites to collect a credit card number or some other adult access code as proof of age before allowing Internet users to view material considered harmful to minors. Violators would face penalties of up to six months in jail and up to $50,000 in fines.

Supporters say the law regulates only commercial Web sites and is one way to keep Internet pornography away from children. Others clamor violation of First Amendment guarantees of free speech and could be used to unfarily prosecute gay men and lesbians, AIDS activies or doctors distributing gynecological information.

But the editor and CEO David Talbot of the online magazine Salon says requiring readers to provide a credit card number or some other access code would drive them away.

``People don't like to hit walls or gates of any kind. They want to move freely,'' he said.

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