PREVIEWS : But Will They Know It When They See It?

A showdown over the highly controversial new law banning indecency on the Internet will take place this week in a Philadelphia courtroom, with attorneys for civil liberties groups and online service companies trying to persuade a three-judge Circuit Court of Appeals panel that the measure is unconstitutional.

Internet denizens and free-speech advocates alike are furious about the Communications Decency Act, passed in February as part of a broad telecommunications reform bill, arguing that it imposes a sweeping ban on all kinds of legitimate adult communications in the name of protecting children from pornography. A U.S. District Court has already blocked enforcement of some parts of the law.

The appellate panel will get a tour of the Internet along with the legal arguments. Many expect the issue ultimately to land in the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Enabling Innovations: One of the most important but least publicized benefits of new technology will be the focus of the 11th annual Technology and Persons With Disabilities conference this week at the L.A. Airport Marriott and Hilton hotels.

Designed for people of various types of disabilities and of all ages and education levels, the conference, sponsored by Cal State Northridge, will feature more than 140 exhibitor booths and hundreds of workshops on computers, software, electronics, job recruitment, rehabilitation and independent living. For more information, call (818) 885-2578.

This Week in Cyberspace

* Today, 4 p.m.: Rap artists and hosts of the "Yo! MTV Raps" show Dr. Dre and Ed Lover chat at http://www.vibe.com

* Tuesday, 6 p.m.: Travel expert Arthur Frommer gives recommendations and tips on European vacations. America Online. Keyword: Centerstage

* Tuesday, 6 p.m.: Defense attorney Alan Dershowitz discusses his most famous cases. CompuServe. Go CONVENTION

ON THE NET

* The Academy Awards goes online today with a complete history of the Oscars at http://oscars.guide.com. The site will also feature coverage of rehearsals and celebrity interviews and provide a virtual "backstage pass" during the Oscar presentations on March 25.

* Atlantic Monthly magazine launches daily campaign coverage on its new political Web site at http://www2.theatlantic.com/atlantic/election/connection/

More than 170 links to the strangest and most varied Web pages you'll ever see are collected at the Weird Places Web site. It's at http://www.euronet.nl/users/deiman/index.html.

Perhaps the most challenging interactive puzzle game on the Web, boasting no less than 10 levels, can be found at http://www.cyborganic.com/Hothouse/Wedge/.

Selected links to newspapers and other media around the country are on the new Newsboy Web service at http://www.newsbot.com/

Site suggestions can be sent to cutting.edge@latimes.com

Hot Spot

Information, please: Want to know the population of the world right now? How about the median income of your congressional district or the United States' top 10 trading partners? For that and all kinds of other facts and stats--and an encouraging display of your tax dollars at work--check out the Census Bureau's web page at http://www.census.com. The site, sponsored by the Commerce Department, includes up-to-date data on everything from health insurance to welfare programs to retail sales, along with detailed maps of the country right down to the census tract. Touted as "really impressive" by the CyberSkeptics Guide to Internet Research, the site also garnered a "Too Cool" award at http://www.toocool.com. Not bad for government work.

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