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House OKs Wiretapping and New .kids.us domain 173

Posted by timothy
from the dropping-the-velvet-glove dept.
proj_2501 writes: "Yahoo! has a story about how the US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved two new bills: one for the creation of a federally overseen TLD called .kids.us (participation is voluntary), and the other for more ease of wiretapping to supposedly prevent dangerous meetings between kids and 'child predators'." Remember, an equivalent bill has not yet been introduced in the Senate.
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House OKs Wiretapping and New .kids.us domain

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  • by eyegor (148503) on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @08:32AM (#3564640)
    Why do they persist in eroding my rights in order to keep me "safe"?

    Every time they decide we need protecting, they strip away yet another preciously gained right. Once they're gone, good luck getting them back.

    I propose a new form of energy. We can harness the power of the founding fathers spinning in their graves. Given what's going on these days, we should be able to replace Three Mile Island. The only problem is that we need Sen. Hollings around to craft more legislation.
  • Prevention? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheNecromancer (179644) on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @08:33AM (#3564650)
    I don't get it: how is this legislation going to prevent children from chatting online with child molestors?

    Seems to me that this new .kids.us will just be another dead area on the Internet, and that kids will find it boring (aka - no chatting) and return to the same areas they were surfing before.

  • by MrFredBloggs (529276) on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @08:41AM (#3564679) Homepage
    "Why do they persist in eroding my rights in order to keep me "safe"?"

    They`re not. They are attempting to give the impression that they are worth voting for, rather than the other party, because they are "doing something about child abuse". Doesnt matter if it will work, or erode your rights or whatever. They just need something where they can say "we are doing this".
  • .kids (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nervlord1 (529523) on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @08:42AM (#3564684) Homepage
    the .kids doesnt strike me as all that bad, its a good way to help keep kids off sites they really dont need to visit, without censoring the rest of the net

    Wiretapping is crap, but, i dont mind the .kids thing

    think about it
  • and what army? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by johnot (240709) on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @08:53AM (#3564723)
    "it should reduce the chance of accidental exposure to pornography and to other Web sites considered harmful to children"

    Who has the authority to decide what's harmful and what isn't?
    I mean, some things are blatantly obvious, but where is the line drawn? How much does a site have to overstep bounds before they can go after it?

    `"I have repeatedly said that libraries have children's book sections, why can't the Internet have the same type of section devoted to children's interests?" he said.'

    What team are we going to have on the payroll to monitor an entire TLD?

    And how long until it gets unmanageable and degenerates into nothing better than the rest of them?

    A good idea, but trying to manage content seems like it would get out of hand quickly.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @09:03AM (#3564750)
    Teenagers are sexual. Online teenagers from 13 upwards are very sexual with each other. How is any form of wiretapping meant to tell who is a teenager and who isn't, and what is normal sexual activity and what is not?
    The internet is a dynamic which few of law-passing age understand.
  • Ummm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @09:06AM (#3564775) Homepage
    WTF does the government have to do with creating domain names??? And to pass a law about this? This is as obscene as business method patents.

    This is like those local governments that think you need a separate law to cover driving while yapping on a cell phone. Isn't wreckless driving, or driving while distracted enough? Why does our government, and our lawyers, and courts lack so much common sense??

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @09:20AM (#3564837)
    I have heard the horror stories of child molestations, whether with family or strangers. The children who fell victim to those are as adults often unable to adapt and cope as easily as their unmolested 'counterparts'. Many die with a feeling of hopelessness and this has GONE ON FAR TOO LONG! For centuries this crap is allowed by the government and I for one am glad that the government is finally stepping up to the plate to 'do something about it.'

    Now with this regulation, the internet will finally become the safe haven for children that it should have been a millenia ago. Those useless existing laws for punishing molesters and pedophiles should be punished by joining the ranks of all those other laws that sit gathering dust while our most benevolent and intelligent government cooks up new ones that in essence do nothing new. Hey, I think I wanna tune my radio! Nahhh, lets just buy an entire new entertainment system that already has the channel I want tunned in. I am so glad that our logical government ignores foolish things like 'history' and 'past performance' so that they can give us these new laws that only address one particular means of child/sicko meeting while giving us that false sense of security that 'everything is taken care of'.

    On an unrelated note, I hear the Senate has officially approved the 'Soma Reformation Act' which will allow us to take part in the chemical utopia brought forth by our caring and responsible government officials. Taxes got you down? Had your property illegally siezed in the name of 'the children'? Just pop some Soma and it will seem A. O. K.!

  • Re:Ummm (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @09:21AM (#3564845)
    WTF does the government have to do with creating domain names???
    Well, if you go back far enough, quite a bit actually. But in this case, the US Government should be the one in charge of the .us domain name, so kids.us makes perfect sense. Congress' job is the pass laws. That's what they do. They're the legislative branch of the government.
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @09:31AM (#3564890) Homepage
    • [ Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill] said parents need to be aware of what Web sites their children are surfing

    To which we all heartily agree, but the article claims:

    • Parents could set computer software to limit a child's access to only addresses ending in .kids.us.

    Say what? That looks like the existing "put a token filtering system in place, then abrogate your responsibility" method so beloved of AOL and the NetNanny brigade. But did our elected representatives just mandate that and slip through mandatory domain locking in browsers while nobody was looking? Let's check the actual bill, H.R. 3833 [loc.gov]

    • `(11) Written agreements with registrars, which shall require registrars to enter into written agreements with registrants, to prohibit hyperlinks in the new domain that take new domain users outside of the new domain.

    Hmm, OK, not too bad. Once you're in, you can't just click out by accident (although of course this will happen, but at least they've thought about it). Is that all?

    • (12) Any other action that the NTIA considers necessary to establish, operate, or maintain the new domain in accordance with the purposes of this section.

    OK, much as I hate catch-all clauses, this is still limited to "the new domain", not to enforcing functionality in browsers (or telnet, for that matter) to lock off the domain. It looks like any browser locking functionality will be voluntary and third party. I can see AOL and Microsoft scrambling to implement this ASAP, but nobody will have to.

    I'm always ready to believe the worst of our legislators when it comes to dealing with technology (their track record isn't great), but I think they've got this one right (even if they are a little vague on how it will actually be administrated). I pronounce this bill sane and measured

    Regarding H.R. 1877 [loc.gov], it's largely moot. It's a minor modification to existing wiretap law, and law enforcement (or anyone with a suit and a badge and some lawyers) can get a wiretap on you right now for pretty much any reason they like. Personally I think that soliciting children for sex should justify a wiretap, and I'm all in favour of honesty in law enforcement, rather than making them scam a warrant for un-American activities (aka domestic terrorism) or whatever.

    Constant vigilance is a good thing, but I don't see anything scary or particularly bad in either of these bills. OK, I find the thought of a .kids.us full of Disney and Barney a little scary, but that's not really the fault of Congress. ;-)

  • Utter nonsense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @09:37AM (#3564915)
    The vast majority of websites are kid-friendly, or at least kid-neutral. To confine kids to a kids only domain of approved sites limits their creativity and access immesurably.

    Case in point: Last year, my son was 9. Calls me up at work one day, and says "Dad, I have a science project coming up." The little dude had gone online, and researched plans for building a very simple, leafblower powered, one man hovercraft. Some guy in WhoKnowsWhere, Iowa had built one, and put the design online. So my son made some mods, wrote a "how and why", we built it, he won first place. If restricted to 'kids.us', he probably would never have come across this.

    Is every website operator supposed to submit their site for inclusion into the kids domain? Not a chance. There is a wealth of kid usable info from various sources such as hobbyists, colleges, clubs, that would not normally think of themselves as 'kid-friendly'. All these would be shut out from kids access.

    Instead, they will be tooling around in disney.kids.us, nickjr.kids.us, and toysrus.kids.us. Utterly devoid of anything but another sales opportunity, and some games.

    And while we're at it, WTF is with this "kids.us"? Are American children the only ones deserving of 'protection'?

    Who will be doing the approving? Are their thoughts about 'kid friendly' the same as mine? Not a chance.
  • by dirk (87083) <dirk@one.net> on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @10:08AM (#3565068) Homepage
    I'm sure everyone is going to lambaste this idea, but I find nothing wrong with it. It is completely voluntary. It basically creates a subset of internet sites parents will know for sure are safe for their children. It is the equivalent to the children's section of the library. Everything in that section is "safe" for kids, but there is no rule saying kids cannot go into the adult section. Same thing here. The .kids.us section will be safe for kids, but they can still go into the "adult" section of the net. It basically helps parents do their job of parenting and watching their kids. Put a simple filter that only allows .kids.us sites through, and if the kid wants to see the "adult" side of the net, the parent can let him and decide what they can and can't see.
  • by Nightlight3 (248096) on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @10:10AM (#3565084)
    Why does our government, and our lawyers, and courts lack so much common sense??

    Considering that with each such law we end up with less freedom while they end up with more power, while we keep re-electing them, one has to wonder who is the one that really lacks common sense. Or any sense at all.

    Say you're in a shopping mall and some teen keeps tripping on escalators and bumping at your feet. With each 'accident' the partner of the 'inept' teen takes something out of your pockets. Would you call the falling teen an uncoordinated fool, knowing that after each fall you end up with less money?

    Now, this would be the same as calling the big swindlers in Washington and New York inept fools, just because their outward rationales for their decisions don't make much sense -- their actions and means chosen seem always out of sync with the stated noble goals.

    But when you observe the seemingly unintended side effects of those decisions, you realize that these rationales and noble goals are mere distractions, just like the fall of the 'inept' teen, so the truly intended purposes can unnoticably unfold while we tangle in their verbal smokescreen.
  • Re:and what army? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Steve B (42864) on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @10:20AM (#3565144)
    Who has the authority to decide what's harmful and what isn't?

    I'd like to see the NRA put a nice Eddie Eagle page in kids.us. When the liberal Democrats on the hill hear about that, pass the popcorn....

  • by ErichTheRed (39327) on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @10:31AM (#3565219)

    Look at all the molestation cases out there. The one common thread among them is that the children were stupid enough to give out contact information and talk to people they shouldn't be. Instead of filtering the entire Web into the "buy more toys/cereal/video games/other stuff" .kids.us domain, parents should teach their children what's really going on out there.

    It's time to stop sugar-coating reality for the kiddies. Tell 'em about real life early on, and they'll be more wary. They'll also be able to deal with all the information available on the web in the appropriate manner. Kids aren't as stupid as people like to think.

  • Re:Utter nonsense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by happyclam (564118) on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @10:57AM (#3565398)

    So don't filter your 9-year-old's surfing. Don't restrict your child's access to anything. It's nice that you can trust your 9-year-old so completely. Why would you care if a .kids.us domain is established?

    This is a great solution because it does not affect you yet it provides security to the people who want it.

    I imagine that if/when I put a computer in my kid's room (not likely), I will have the filter on unless I am actively monitoring the usage somehow. If I'm around, I'll turn the filter off. No big deal.

    WTF is with this "kids.us"? Are American children the only ones deserving of 'protection'?

    I don't believe the US congress has the authority to create a new TLD without the consent of some other groups in the world... so they did what they could. Created .kids within the TLD that they do have authority over. Nothing's stopping other countries from doing the same.

    I simply don't understand how something that is good for many people and bad for none can be so attacked.

  • by pauljlucas (529435) on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @11:36AM (#3565717) Homepage Journal
    It's ironic that government sites wouldn't be kid-safe because they end in .gov. So any kids who are interested in the government, legislative processes, or NASA are out of luck.

    Sure, sites could be mirrored or you could do tricks in your Apache .conf file to make the same site answer to .kids.us, but actual content would have to be modified. For example, a NASA page couldn't link to a foreign space agency or even to an American university.

    The new .kids.us domain isn't "bad" per se; it's just ill-thought-out (as usual for Congress when it comes to the Internet).

  • Re, "The only purpose this new domain serves is to entice parents to let down their guard..."

    Just like a playground. Many playgrounds, small parks intended just for children, were first established during the Progressive era about a hundred years ago to give children in densely populated cities a place to play besides the street.

    You can still let your kids play in the street if you like, with you watching (or not). Or you can take them to the playground.

    Using the internet with your supervision for a project -- Going downtown with you holding the child's hand, on your way to a specific event (shopping, public library, concert)

    Surfing the net unsupervised -- Turning the child loose downtown (not necessarily a bad thing depending on the child and the part of town)

    Limiting access to kids.us -- Taking the child to "Little Gym" or one of those indoor play parks, where you can leave them safely while you do something else.
  • Re:Prevention? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chasing Amy (450778) <asdfijoaisdf@askdfjpasodf.com> on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @03:19PM (#3567275) Homepage
    > I don't get it: how is this legislation going to prevent children from chatting online with child molestors?

    It's not. It does, however, let the congresspeople say to their sheeple "Look what I'm doing to prevent the big bad Internet from hurting children! No, I don't come to Washington each year just to fondle my interns, use my salary (your tax dollars) to pay for call girls and dinners at Morton's, and erode your freedoms to fit my opinions--I actually pass legislation!"

    > Seems to me that this new .kids.us will just be another dead area on the Internet, and that kids will
    > find it boring (aka - no chatting) and return to the same areas they were surfing before.

    Sure, but I can't say I mind that part. If it passes--well, then they have one less thing to complain about when they try to pass CDA-style laws to restrict my freedoms to read and write what I wish on the net. So, I think the kids.us domain would be great--then whenever the need for a "kid-safe" Net is touted by censors, we could say "Fuck no! There's already a kid-safe internet! Remember that kids.us domain you wanted? You got it, it's the 'kid-safe Internet' you wanted, so shut the Hell up." Or something like that.

    See, I see the potential for kids.us to be used *by our side* to defeat the censors' rationales for stepping on our rights. It's an opt-in system--people can get such a domain if they intend to appeal to kids and are willing to abide by whatever content restrictions Congress wants to impose on that subdomain. If you want to *not* abide by such restrictions, just don't get a silly kids.us address, get a .com or .net or .us. Participation is entirely voluntary both for site-ops and for parents. The way I see it, it gives their side very little since kids will always be able to find an "unhindered" Net connection somewhere, and gives our side a lot since it takes away one of the censors' big arguments. I like the potential.

    As for the bill making it easier to wiretap people "suspected of engaging in child pornography, of trying to get children to perform sexual acts for money or of traveling to or bringing children for sexual activity"--I object to this because it's *already* embarrassingly easy to get a wiretap warrant, to the point of being a joke. Some judges--and the police and FBI know exactly which ones to go to--will give a wiretap warrant the minute the prosecutor says "child(ren)." No showing of cause needed. So, making it esier is in no way necessaqry, nor welcome. Kids.us isn't much of a threat or violation of my rights. However, a bill letting police excuse an invasion into my privacy by merely saying "we suspcted him of child porn/abuse/talking mean to a child online," without any evidence or cause whatsoever--well, that's a violation. If you want to invade someone's privacy and wiretap all their communications, sorry, but you should have to show cause.

    What I really find laughable though is that the people pushing this legislation with the excuse of this girl in Connecticutt who was murdered clearly had it drafted and were just opportunistically, predatorily waiting around for a child to die at the hands of an adult she met online. Talk about being predators--that's what the bill's authors are, using the death of a child for their own gain. Sickening.

    Not to mention the fact that this girl who was murdered wasn't the innocent poster-child she's being made out to be. In reality, that particular girl had been meeting and having sex with strange men she met on the Internet for some time, and had been bragging about her sex life to her classmates. It was only a matter of time before she met one who's a killer as well as a child molester. A sad story, indeed, but not one of an innocent child lured by the Big Bad Internet--rather, of a child who'd already been corrupted, probably by past offline abuse or neglect, who turned to the Internet to find adult sexual partners and bragged about it to her classmates. Something was definitely very wrong in her life, but her unfortunate use of chatrooms was a symptom of it, not the cause of it.

    The real predators are our Congressmen. To use a child's death for political gain is disgusting, and the congressmen who introduced these bills are as predatory as the child molester who killed her.

An Ada exception is when a routine gets in trouble and says 'Beam me up, Scotty'.

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