The Telecommunications Act of 1996, enacted by the U.S. Congress on February 1, 1996, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton on February 8, 1996, provided major changes in laws affecting cable TV, telecommunications, and the Internet. The law's main purpose was to stimulate competition in telecommunication services. The law specifies:

  • How local telephone carriers can compete.
  • How and under what circumstances local exchange carriers (LECs) can provide long-distance services.
  • The deregulation of cable TV rates

Included with the Act was the former Communications Decency Act (CDA), which, among other provisions, makes it a crime to convey pornography over the Internet in a way that is easily accessible to children.

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