Below The Beltway

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House Overwhelmingly Passes Latest Effort To Control That Indecent Internet

by @ 12:14 pm on December 6, 2007. Filed under Internet, Technology

Yesterday, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill that would impose strict reporting requirements on web site operators and public wi-fi providers:

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill saying that anyone offering an open Wi-Fi connection to the public must report illegal images including “obscene” cartoons and drawings–or face fines of up to $300,000.

That broad definition would cover individuals, coffee shops, libraries, hotels, and even some government agencies that provide Wi-Fi. It also sweeps in social-networking sites, domain name registrars, Internet service providers, and e-mail service providers such as Hotmail and Gmail, and it may require that the complete contents of the user’s account be retained for subsequent police inspection.

(…)

This is what the SAFE Act requires: Anyone providing an “electronic communication service” or “remote computing service” to the public who learns about the transmission or storage of information about certain illegal activities or an illegal image must (a) register their name, mailing address, phone number, and fax number with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s “CyberTipline” and (b) “make a report” to the CyberTipline that (c) must include any information about the person or Internet address behind the suspect activity and (d) the illegal images themselves. (By the way, “electronic communications service” and “remote computing service” providers already have some reporting requirements under existing law too.)

The definition of which images qualify as illegal is expansive. It includes obvious child pornography, meaning photographs and videos of children being molested. But it also includes photographs of fully clothed minors in overly “lascivious” poses, and certain obscene visual depictions including a “drawing, cartoon, sculpture, or painting.” (Yes, that covers the subset of anime called hentai).

Failure to comply with the reporting requirements could result in fines up to $ 300,000. The vote on the bill was 409-2, with only Ron Paul and Georgia Congressman Paul Broun, a Republican voting against it.

This is one where two people are right and 409 pandering politicians who vote in favor of an unworkable and blatantly unconstitutional bill are wrong.

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