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Appeals Court Rejects Child Online Protection Act, Again 319

Posted by michael
from the think-of-the-children dept.
mabesty writes "From The Washington Post: A panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that COPA restricts free speech by barring Web page operators from posting information inappropriate for minors unless they limit the site to adults. The ruling upholds an injunction blocking the government from enforcing the law." We last covered COPA when the Supreme Court handled it last year.
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Appeals Court Rejects Child Online Protection Act, Again

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  • by Limburgher (523006) on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:36AM (#5458297) Homepage Journal
    I was afraid they might set up some sort of recreational club under this law, a COPA-cabana if you will.
  • by Talking Goat (645295) on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:36AM (#5458302)
    Finally, a decision. Now will parents stop pushing legislation and start monitoring their children's online activities? No, they'll just push another bill. But at least we have a precedent, again... Wait, what was the point of a precedent? Apparently, parents haven't caught on yet.
    • Something has to be done to give parents a fighting chance, however. Chances are that most kids are going to be more adept at using the computer than their parents, resulting in either ineffective monitoring by the parent or evasion of monitoring by kids.

      Nobody denies the right to have adult-oriented content out on the web, but it shouldn't be shoved in your face quite so easily. When I signed up for cable-modem access, for example, and the guy came out to set things up, the first time I accessed the email account it already had about a dozen spams, some for porn sites. While COPA may not be a good idea, something needs to be done, period.

      • by Talking Goat (645295) on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:52AM (#5458463)
        The parents' "fighting chance" should be fought by the parents, not the government. Legislating child-rearing is yet another cop-out from a generation of parents that refuse to take responsibility for their children. If you are disturbed enough by the content to be found online, and you haven't raised your children well enough to trust their judgment around such content, then you need to be responsible and watch your kids. What's so hard about that?

        Parents are so quick to scream for laws to protect their children, regardless of the restrictions it places on rest of the public. and yet if we were to legislate parenting licenses to ensure parents were watching their children properly, you'd see the biggest hell-storm to ever sweep across the nation. Where's the fairness in that?

        If we can't tell you how to raise your children, then don't tell us how to raise our Internet. Watch your kids, for god's sake.

        • I completely agree (Score:5, Insightful)

          by diablobynight (646304) on Friday March 07, 2003 @11:24AM (#5458818) Journal
          Personally I think a lot of legislation forced down on children is entirely unfair, especially considering they have no vote or say in it. LIke I still thinks it's rediculous to have a drinking age of 21 but a smoking age of 18. I think that if kids are old enough to have an M16 tossed into their hands and told to go die for their country, they are old enough to have a couple of beers. Sexism is heavily frowned upon, and so is racism, why not ageism? Because all the policy makers are old and have forgotten what it's like to be young. It made me so angry when I was 18 and I signed up for a 20K loan to cover my first year of college. It made me angry I was old enough to put myself 20 thousand dollars in debt, but not old enough to drink certain kinds of beverages.
          • by arkanes (521690) <arkanes@gmail.CHICAGOcom minus city> on Friday March 07, 2003 @11:38AM (#5458959) Homepage
            The thing that pisses me off the most is that we'll draft people who can't vote. That's just fucked up. And you can vote, but not drink. In my mind, there shouldn't be any age limits on anything that are greater than the age of majority - it just doesn't make any logical sense. Especially since the only things I can think of are alcohol and running for public office, neither or which are nearly as important or as life-changing as all the other things you can do at 18.
            • The thing that pisses me off the most is that we'll draft people who can't vote.

              And you happen to be in what country?

              A. in the US, there is not 'draft'. Selective Service registration, yes, but no actual "Come down and take a physical" draft.
              B. The Sel Service registration age is 18. Which also happens to be the age at which you can vote.
              C. Running for public office is also generally allowed at age 18. OK...for President, you have to be 35. I don't think we're ready for a teenage pres yet.

              D. Now...should the drinking age be lowered to 18? hmm...tough one. On one side, we have semiresponsible people. On the other side, we have drunken riots at many colleges across the country, and many late teens killed (or other victims) driving while drunk.
              Tough call.
              • lots of 30 year olds die drunk driving as well. Oh and actually just to be on city council you have to be 21. So no, you can't run for public office. Governor is 25 I believe. Go screw yourself on the draft, congress can reinitialise it any day. Oh and drunken riots, those don't seem to happen as often in countries with much lower drinking ages such as everywhere but here. Which kind of points out a simple fact, tell rebellious college kids, they can't do something, and they will. I know people that did drugs just because they are soo rebellious to do.
              • by arkanes (521690)
                You need to educate yourself a bit about the draft and how it works. It's not currently active. It can become active, which is to say they can send out notices, in less than 48 hours. Since it's not active, there's no "draft age" per se, but it has been in the past, and can be in the future, as low as 16 - at the whim of the President. On the other side, I don't give a shit how many teens kill people driving drunk - for one thing, you'll have alot less of it if it's legal. If someone is old enough to vote, they're old enough to drink. Period. Raise the voting age to 21 or lower the drinking age to 18. It's not a tough call at all.
      • by gorilla (36491) on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:53AM (#5458488)
        Something has to be done to give parents a fighting chance

        Why? If you're a parent, then it's your responsibility to do whatever you feel is appropriate in terms of looking after your kids. It's not the rest of societies problem. Parents are doing far too much insisting on protection 'for the children' which ends up restricting what adults can do. Do your job, don't expect me to do it for you.


        • It's not the rest of societies problem. Parents are doing far too much insisting on protection 'for the children' which ends up restricting what adults can do.

          I agree with your second sentence, but I have reservations about feeling so absolutely correct about the first.

          Yes, it is quite correct that the majority of parents are underqualified and have unrealistic expectations that society will assume some responsibility for raising their children. Talk to any public school teacher and you can find out pretty quick just how bady most parents are neglecting their jobs.

          And so I believe that heavy-handed Internet porn filters at libraries are bad policy. That parents should be monitoring their children's activity and not complain so much. Automating the monitoring to save money doesn't wash as valid excuse to me, no more than using a VCR and TV as a convenient babysitter does.

          But, unless you can afford to home school your own children, there is a necessity for you to go a job and to send your kids to some public school somewhere where you are physically unable to monitor what your children are doing.

          In that case, I think parents have a reasonable expectation that society will fulfull some responsibility for monitoring their children and preventing them from exposure to things that they would rather their kids not see at a young age.

          Zoning restrictions that prohibit the establishment of adult movie theatres near schools are another example of where society has collectively decided it is their problem and made some policy decision.

        • As a parent of two preschool children, I have to agree. My four-year-old is not allowed to browse the internet (of course, he can't type yet, so it's not really an issue). Until he is old enough to understand that certain materials are inappropriate, he will have to have either myself or my husband do his surfing for him, and we will either print or save relevant pages for him to view offline.

          Once he's old enough to surf, he will be allowed to do so only when one parent is present, and we will limit the amount and types of websites he can view. Right now, he is allowed to use a laptop which is not connected to the internet (or to our own network), but which has many preschool educational games installed on it. I doubt he's feeling the lack.

          If we are responsible for raising our children, then we're responsible for what they read, what they watch, what they surf. We can't expect the government to babysit our kids for us (hell, we can't even expect the government to babysit incarcerated criminals for us sometimes!) - we gave birth to them, essentially, we created new life. That carries a pretty hefty responsibility with it. Suck it up and stop asking Uncle Sam (or Uncle Jean in my case) to raise your kids for you. jmho

        • And there is nothing that makes something so attractive to a kid, as restricting access. Oooh, that's forbidden, so I gotta find a way to get it!

          Whereas what's regarded as ordinary, explained by thinking adults, and is the kid's choice to leave alone -- as a rule, they're not even interested in.

      • by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:56AM (#5458515) Homepage
        Sounds like we need some SPAM laws instead, then. Seriously...how likely is it that johnny is going to get a sexual image on the internet (likely http) unless he is explicityly looking for it?

        My inbox, however, gets flooded with tons of offers from 'Women who want to meet me' and 'office secret admirer's' every day. The penis growth stuff is mostly filtered, now, though.

        • how likely is it that johnny is going to get a sexual image on the internet (likely http) unless he is explicityly looking for it?

          You gotta be kidding.

          Try doing a google on Britney Spears, and see how many celebrity porn sites show on the list.
      • by gpinzone (531794) on Friday March 07, 2003 @11:00AM (#5458576) Homepage Journal
        It's going to be tough. You gotta think back to your childhood. Back then all we had was cable TV and the "Playboy Channel." Granted it was only softcore porn, but it was the unspoken goal of all 13 years old boys to sneak a peek at the verboten channel, even if it was scrambled. (You had to hope for scenes with a heavy white background in order for it to come out straight.)

        Even if you lock everything down in your house, you know damn well, there's gonna be some other kid on the block whose parents are less watchful. If you impose all these restrictions, I predict your child will begin asking to spend an inordinate amount of time over a friends house to "study." Forget the laws. This is the Internet. No one is going to be able to regulate all the offensive material coming from all over the world all the time. Once kids find something that gets through the filter, the URL will spread like wildfire.
        • Again, that might be true in the US, but it's not true in the rest of the world. Just over the border in Toronto, CITY TV [citytv.com] showed soft core [museum.tv] movies, over broadcast TV, in the 1970's. Just because the US has been a nanny state in the past is not justification for it being so in the future.
      • 1) Create a profile for your child in Netscape/Mozilla
        2) Monitor their history (ctrl-h)
        3) Let them know that you are monitoring the history and that you do not want them to clear it.

        This is what I recommended to a friend of mine who is the parent of a 9 year old. Part 3 is optional, I guess, if the kid doesn't even know what the history is. They will figure it out, and learn how to clear it, but maybe it gives the parent a few weeks to monitor what their child does. After that, the parent would probably have to do part 3, and punish the kid if they find an empty history. Soon they will figure out how to edit the history, though. Does anyone know how to lock down the history? Read and write, but no deletion?
      • If you objection is with content being pushed to you that a reasonable person (legal term) would find offensive, then this is already illegal in law in many countries, pursue it as if you had received it through your mail through the front door.

        On the other hand having content that some one has to go out and look for that you wish to prevent kids from seeing, this is a parental monitoring issue. Parents do not lobby for train stations to be closed because kids may go and play their, and even if they did lobby they should not be allowed to have their will enforced.

        If a parent wants to prevent their child from doing or seeing certain things on the internet they have at least three options, there is no restriction on not applying several of these at the same time.

        1. Be in the room when the child uses the internet.
        2. Client side filtering can easily be install on a computer this may block some content that should not be blocked but this may be acceptable as it is the parent choice to install the software.
        3. Client Side logging, if you can not be in the room but are worried about the child having looking at things that the child knows she/he should not look at install loggin software and tell the child it is there. This way the child may look at some thing thatâ(TM)s inappropriate but they know you will catch them and apply an appropriate punishment.
        Related to point one, the FBI has a list of things you can do to minimize the likelihood that a stranger will victimize your child online. Communicating with your children is the No. 1 thing you can do to help; talking to your children about sexual victimization and the potential dangers online is paramount. The FBI recommends taking time to sit down with your child and having her show you what she likes to do online. It also suggests that you not let your child have the computer in her room; set up the computer in an open area with a lot of traffic. This makes it difficult for her to carry on inappropriate interactions.
        http://www.fbi.gov/publications/pguide/pguide.htm [fbi.gov] For more information and debate on this see. http://www.teekosoccertips.com/safelinks.htm [teekosoccertips.com]
      • Chances are that most kids are going to be more adept at using the computer than their parents, resulting in either ineffective monitoring by the parent or evasion of monitoring by kids.


        Rule #1: in order to be a good parent, you must get to know the world where your kids live. Kids are more adept at using the computer, for sure, but probably they would be also more adept at finding a drug dealer in the street. As a parent, you cannot evade your responsibility by claiming ignorance in either case.

      • I dunno, I remember being a kid in the BBS days and finding those sites that had porn available and getting lots of it. I was able to 'outsmart' the system, so to speak, but nothing that a kid with their father's Playboy stash couldn't do. The difference being that my mother raised me to respect women and that sex/relationship issues were not to be displayed out in public. I turned out fine (relatively), normal relationships, etc.

        A parent can't protect their children, all they can hope to do is teach them how to make decisions. That's why I feel those kids with little to no common sense are in such danger...their parents won't be around to help make decisions all their life.

        --trb
      • Something has to be done to give parents a fighting chance, however. Chances are that most kids are going to be more adept at using the computer than their parents, resulting in either ineffective monitoring by the parent or evasion of monitoring by kids.

        Well call me naive, or maybe European (which I am), but I'm still wondering what is so wrong with kids occasionaly seeing naked people.
        Really. Is there any proof that children that have seen sexual scens turn out to be dangerous criminals, perverts, or worse Polticians ?

        In my contry we still have adult magazins right next to the "standard" magazins in shops. Children are exposed to these as well as on TV, even in the lamest Ad for shampoo you have naked women and such. And any kid that that is looking for some "exposure" only has to wait for some weekends late night (23h-1am) movies.

        I'm still pretty sure that all the fuss about p0rn comes from the lack of knowledge of it. It's like most things in life. If it's forbiden then you will damn well try to get it. How hard is it for parents to simply explain to their kid what sex is, why their are porno magazins, and hence why their are porno Sites on the net.

        I mean, my parents did it, and although they are in my mind Uber parents, I'm sure a lot of others have done it too.

        Murphy(c)
        Oh and by the way I haven't turned out to be a child rapist or pervert.... yet. :)
      • Not for long. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by UberQwerty (86791)
        Chances are that most kids are going to be more adept at using the computer than their parents, resulting in either ineffective monitoring by the parent or evasion of monitoring by kids.

        In as few as 30 years, the ruling class will be made up largely by people who grew up with computers - and there has never been an oppressed community (the net-savvy) whose distinguishing charachteristic (the internet) acted directly as such a powerful organizing tool.

        Mark my words - within our lifetimes, it will become impossible for this kind of fascist bullshit to get pushed through government, and computer law will make sense. Maybe this is already happening.

        In the meantime, parents who want "a fighting chance" should take note: drop the "I am not a computer person" attitude and learn what your kids already know about the internet. It actually takes less effort to do this than it takes to whine about your problems to the government. And your kids will be overjoyed at the chance to teach you something!

    • Hell, its not hard to check even if you're not watching them - the browser keeps a hundred different logs of the user's activity, very few children under 16 know how to clear them all (history, file cache, typed-URL history, cookie cache, downloaded ActiveX controls, Recent Documents if they save anything for later, etc). If they just purge any of these, they become conspicuous in its absence (they were on all day and the history is empty).

      Yeah, watching your kid is better, but this works if you want to know what they've done on it.
      • Actually this is very true. My brother was caught looking at porn by my dad. When my brother did find out about the history he deleted the entire listing. My dad found out about this and punished him for it.

        He was given instructions to not delete the history or else face some sort of punishment. He hasn't done it since. Or at least not to my knowledge.

        He cannot go online without permission from someone in the house. LOL I'm his worst enemy tho, because I told him, I can always check what he does online and I can see everything he does on the computer without his knowing, so he better.

        Controlling the home network and having VNC on each comp works well to combat these problems.

    • I need to run for president on the platform of "Raise your own damn kids". I will support the need for parents to enforce their rules on kids rather than for Law Enforcement to do it for them. I will also make it the responsibility of parents rather then Law Enforcement to make sure their kids wear a helmet when riding on a bicycle. I also support having one parent stay at home to take care of the kids. Preferrably the mother. Men for the most part aren't cut out for the job, as it is rough and thankless work requiring the intuition that mothers have that fathers can never understand fully. So as I have said in the past, RAISE YER OWN DAMN KIDS!
  • WOW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sh0t (607838) on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:37AM (#5458311) Journal
    I'm surprised the moral majority didn't win out and make this a reality. Especially considering how they tightened the noose around tv and radio.

    I think everybody would benefit if the gov took a more laizze faire stance on the internet, even if the result is a little anarchy. I know things like spam and such really suck and make the net somewhat gay but, There is so much good stuff tht would be threatened if the moral majority really got a strong foot hold in and turned the internet into disneyland online.
    • OK... Where's the good stuff?

      Seriouslly, where is it?

      Specifically, where is the good stuff that suddenly won't be there if the Govt (the US Govt that is) decides to tighten the noose a little more.

      And once you point this "good stuff" - tell us why it won't be there and what the great loss will be.
      • by Bonker (243350) on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:59AM (#5458563)
        Some good stuff that could be filtered based on adult content:
        http://arstechnica.infopop.net/OpenTopic/page?a=cf rm&s=50009562 [infopop.net] - Ars' Soapbox and Velvet Room forums

        http://www.gutenberg.org/ [gutenberg.org] - Many texts not suitable for children.

        http://sexuality.about.com/mbody.htm [about.com] - The first place many people find when looking for non-porn sex information

        and

        http://www.slashdot.org/ [slashdot.org] - You're soaking in it!
        • Good examples. Others that have been blocked by programs that PROMISE only to block porn are webpages for breast cancer, instructions for conducting breast self-exams, discussion groups and clubs for breast cancer survivors, galleries of non-pornographic* nudes such as you would find in a museum or art gallery. I personally *don't* want to raise my child with a stigma against the human body or sex. I will never say it's wrong or bad. As for nudity or near nudity such as J-Lo's new perfume ads, look all ya want. The fascination is natural and dissuasion is more harmful than the act itself, IMHO. As for sex or other issues to confusing for a child (and many adults), I will simply say it is for adults only.

          [*Govt defines porn as images of intercourse or gratuitous focus on the genitals]
    • "Especially considering how they tightened the noose around tv and radio."

      That's an interesting notion, since the (relatively) new rating system allows shows like South Park, NYPD Blue, and CSI to exist on non-pay-per-view television.

      Think the language/content in those shows today was allowed 15 years ago?

    • Re:WOW (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RobotRunAmok (595286)
      >I'm surprised the moral majority didn't win
      >out and make this a reality. Especially
      >considering how they tightened the noose
      >around tv and radio.

      Moral Majority

      Who?

      Did I just time warp back a decade?

      Did you?

      The "noose" around TV and Radio has never been more loose! Broadcast TV is showing more as they endeavor to match the critical success of HBO's "Sopranos" and "Sex in the City," and cable TV is more over the top than it has ever been. Stern and Savage are the most extreme voices on radio, and the groups going after them, well, I wouldn't exactly say they fit your definition of the "Moral Majority."

      Ashcroft's a loon, no doubt, but he's been so busy trying to figure out what I am watching and reading that he has not had time to chase after the creators of that content.

      Unless you have an Arabic surname, there has never been a more relaxed climate in which to create and distribute entertainment (in the US, at least).

      Now, whether anybody at the end of the day has any money left to pay for that content, or support it's advertisers, well... that's a different topic.

      disneyland
      Remember that, as the power and influence of various media congloms grows in government, the less likely it is you will see any kind of media "sanitization." When everybody is forced to be like Disneyland, the *real* Disneyland has to work harder, and Big Mickey, he don't like dat...
    • I'm surprised the moral majority didn't win out and make this a reality. Especially considering how they tightened the noose around tv and radio.

      Ok, this is the reason why the current Estrada hearings are tearing up the airwaves. Federal judges are appointed for life. Once they are on the bench, it is almost impossiable to get them off (there are judges in jail, still getting paid!)

      How a certain court swings depends on who appointed them to the bench. Thats why you'll see one of the conservative judges on US Supreame Court step down before Bush leaves office.

      BWP
  • by thadeusPawlickiROX (656505) on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:38AM (#5458314)
    It appears that this law tries to cover too much ground, and does not define itself well enough. Rather then blanketing all of the "minor" population, some scale would be more appropriate. But there lies the problem, as who should determine what is appropriate for a ten year old, or for a five year old, etc. It's a good idea, but unfortunately, the current properties of the law do restrict First Amendment rights.
  • Free speech (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrtroy (640746) on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:39AM (#5458339)
    Free speech is almost as idealistic and hard to obtain in real world situations as communism!

    In both cases you have a few bastards who screw everyone over, and a few bad apples spoils the bunch [ouch sorry for that.] But, in a "free" society we need freedom of speech.

    I was always taught as a youngster that you had a set of rights, such as free speech, right to vote, etc; however these rights only extended so far until you were infringing on someone else's rights.

    So sure, I have the right not to get kicked in the nuts, and so does Bob over there. I also have the right to kick wildly. But I do not have the right to kick Bob in the nuts; because it is infringing on his right to not get kicked in the nuts.

    Thats where it gets complicated; especially considering where you begin infringing on people's rights. Do young people have a right not to be exposed to some pr0n on the internet? Do I have the right to put naked pix on the internet without any warnings? Who really controls the Internet anyways, and does some guy have a right to put pr0n on his website in [insert country here] that my kid gets exposed to in [insert other country here]?

    Not an easy problem to define, therefor no easy solutions to come across. All i know is that the american gov't cannot dictate Internet laws, although they may be able to enforce a few in their own country (if they have the time/effort/etc)

    I dunno this is a "dont hate the playah hate the game" sorta situation, because there wouldnt be so much pr0n on the internet if people werent paying for it!
  • by Visaris (553352) on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:39AM (#5458340) Journal
    ... using community standards to determine what could be harmful to minors was not overly broad and thus not unconstitutional ...

    What?? shouldn't that read: ... using community standards to determine what could be harmful to minors was overly broad and thus unconstitutional ... ?!? I know people are becomming terrible parents these days, but I don't think the government should try to play dad here. Parents need to be responsible and filter things that they don't want their kids to see.

    I think a lot of legislators realize that they can pass some really crazy laws regaurding children because minors have almost no rights to begin with.
    • Actually, the Supremes said, in kicking it back to the circuit court, that community standsrds were not overly-vague, but that there were a whole raft of other first amendment issues that needed to be be addressed. Basically, they said that community standards weren't enough to knock it down, but that they were concerned with other things.
  • by mosch (204) on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:41AM (#5458355) Homepage
    It's refreshing to see that the system, as inefficient as it may be, occasionally works.

    If you find yourself feeling relieved at this decision, I strongly suggest that you consider making a donation to the EFF [eff.org], EPIC [guidestar.org] or ACLU [aclu.org]. For without the efforts of these fine organizations, this law might have been enacted, and the whole of the Internet legislated to the morality of the most conservative town in America.

    Let's not just say thank you for the win, let's SHOW our thanks, by breaking out the Benjamins.

  • by Joe the Lesser (533425) on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:43AM (#5458393) Homepage Journal
    The law, signed by President Clinton and endorsed by President Bush, has never been enforced.

    Ah, I love basking in the irony of unforced laws.

  • Meta tag (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Khalidz0r (607171) on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:43AM (#5458396) Journal
    Why not inforce a rule asking people providing adult material to have a meta tag specifying this exactly, or send it some way or another, so that censorship programs can read this and disallow it for children, I think a kid wanting to see adult material will know his way through clicking buttons telling he is over 18 years old.

    Khalid
    • Re:Meta tag (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Friday March 07, 2003 @11:10AM (#5458678) Homepage Journal
      Because then it will be up to the author of the Web page to decide what constitutes "adult material," and if he guesses wrong, he goes to prison.

      In some cases, it's obvious: porn site operators and the proprietors of sites like rotten.com would be idiots if they didn't use the tags. But there's a huge gray area. Is my personal home page "adult" because it contains a few four-letter words? I don't think so -- but some prosecutor, somewhere, might, and then I've got big problems. What about medical sites which, by their nature, include detailed discussions of human anatomy?

      I wouldn't object at all to the creation of a standard (I'd rather have it done by the W3C or some other private entity than the government, but whatever) for "opt-in" kid-safe sites: a clearly published set of rules that says, "If your site does not contain any of the following [naked people / dirty words / etc.] then you are authorized to use this tag." Then the more extreme censorware could look for this tag.

      I would still object to public libraries and the like being required to block stuff that doesn't contain the tag, for all kinds of reasons, but it would be a start.
    • Because this is an international issue. Certainly we could force American web site operators to do this (subject to the other issues raised in previous responses) but what good would this really do? Asian operators will ignore the law, American operators will be at a disadvantage and the porn will still be as freely available as it was before the requirement.
      • I like looking at the ratings that the same movie gets around the world. For example, the Adrian Lyne version of Lolita got [imdb.com] an 'R' in the US, but a 16 in the netherlands, and a 12 in Brazil and France.
  • by Dukeofshadows (607689) on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:44AM (#5458404) Journal
    Some people will define "protecting" children by different means. The Christian Right around here would deny children access to everything they don't agree with, cinluding evolutionary textbooks since they might "corrupt" their kids. Other people will take their 7-year-olds to go see Robocop or the Rocky Horror Picture Show for the hell of it. Trying to protect children requires good parenting first and foremost, not just overly protective laws. Public schools are trickiest of all since so many ready-to-litigate families have different concerns for their kids. I think the easiest solution would be to either have all of the computers monitored by a faculty member. Maybe they could also tell the kids well in advance that their activities will be monitored with justification neccessary for visiting sites deemed "questionable". Granted, that system could be abused and not all kids need protection, but for Johnny trying to e-mail the president and instead visiting a .com instead of a .gov (whitehouse.com is a notorious porn site), some measure of protection should be in place.
    • Ya know, the Christian Right is neither Christian nor right, what they are is just a bunch of religious dictators who'd like to enforce their narrow view upon the world in the name of God. Sort of like New World Mullah's. I think it interesting that the idea of teaching their kids evolution invokes such anger when if you take the Bible away and ask them "find proof of God" in any source outside of the Bible or in any way that doesn't self reference they can't. Yet there are oodles (there's a technical term for you!) of studies and tests that come close to damn near certain that evolution is the exact thing that happened. Nevermind the fact that, really, evolution and creationism can be combined...they don't want to even consider that! 1000 years ago, they would be burning people at the stake for claiming we came from apes. It's the same mentality all over again. As knowledge increases and the realm and understanding of Science grows the realm and power of the idea that creationism is correct shortens. Out of the dark one comes into the light...if you catch my meaning.
  • by ReelOddeeo (115880) on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:46AM (#5458425)
    How about this one.

    Whenever congress (or state legislatures) pass a law that is later found to be unconstitutional, public funds must be used to reimburse all legal costs that were incurred in bringing the suit and having the unconstitutional law found to be unconstitutional.

    Why should private or industry money have to be used to combat ridiculous laws that legislators can freely pass at a whim? Let's make them at least have to budget the cost of overturning their unconstitutional laws.

    Example. Some hypothetical attorney general, let's call him "Asscruft", proposes to congress, and congress later passes, and the president signs a bill making it illegal to think bad thoughts under penalty of 5 years of $500,000.

    Everyone would be screaming to have this overturned. Lots of private money would have to be used to get this nonsense overturned. Why should the citizenry be forced to overturn bad laws that they didn't want but that their "representatives" thought would be good for them, or that corporate interests bought and paid for?
    • by stratjakt (596332)
      So it would be better if our tax dollars funded every whiners agenda?

      For every 'just' cause citizens take in court, there are three hundred frivolous ones.

      The ACLU is hell-bent on making sure noone ever says the word 'God', or celebrates Christmas in public. I don't want to fund that bullshit with my tax dollars.

      And if the RIAA gets the "Freedom to listen to whatever the hell you want Act" overturned in Supreme Court, do you want your tax dollars reimbursing them?
    • Whenever congress (or state legislatures) pass a law that is later found to be unconstitutional, public funds must be used to reimburse all legal costs that were incurred in bringing the suit and having the unconstitutional law found to be unconstitutional.
      In other words, taxpayers will have to pay twice for every stupid law that makes it through? Remember, public funds are paying for the legislators' salaries, the upkeep of the Capitol buildings, etc. The entire process of passing a law which is later found unconstitutional is already a financial burden borne by taxpayers.

      If you want to double your income tax, fine by me, but I'd rather not.
      • Correct, the legislators and the president should be held personally accountable. I give it a proverbial frozen ball of ice's chance of ever happening though.
    • by Zirnike (640152)
      First: Not the government. I don't want to have to pay because some moron from a different state thought COPA was a good idea. The Senators pay. The Reps. pay. And the president pays. Unless they voted against or vetoed it.

      Second: The founders didn't want to do it, but I think it might help: Any bill introduced should be reviewed by a court at the level of the appeals court before it can be enforced. Only checking on constitutional grounds, like it is now. That might help...

      Third: No amendments to bills that are unrelated to the stated main purpose of the bill. Not directly related, but that would help too.
  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:48AM (#5458434) Homepage Journal

    It's bad enough I buy booze for underage kids, I wouldn't want to be buying them pr0n too!
  • Good. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SCHecklerX (229973)
    I'm sick of laws trying to be passed to make up for bad parenting. It is not the government's responsibility to raise your children, people.
  • Online porn (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tonywestonuk (261622) on Friday March 07, 2003 @10:53AM (#5458491)
    One reason that I would think twice about letting my kids (if I had them) use the net would be for the amount of accessible porn, and the like that is so freely, and easily available. Over a certain age (15 maybe, maybe more) then anything goes, but, as it stands, I can click on a page within a presumably benign google search, and be presented with something that isn't. Allowing sites to show 'information inappropriate for minors' to minors is like selling kids top shelf mags, or allowing them in to the movies see uk cert 18 movies.
    I'm completely against censorship to those of us who have arrived at adulthood, but saying that kids should be allowed to view adult material because of 'free speech' is wrong.

    T.
    • Re:Online porn (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kryptkpr (180196)
      No, it's not wrong.

      What's all this bullshit about shielding the children anyways? The children don't need, nor want your shielding.

      I'm not saying we should starting selling pr0n in all elementary schools world wide, but kids are going to have sex. They're going to look at other, naked, kids or adults or whatever. They're going to be curious; this is what kids do.

      So instead of shielding your [proverbial] kids from the "horrors" of porn, how about educating them instead?

      There is such a thing as tasteful porn (that doesn't involve anal sex followed by the guy blowing his load all over the girl's face .. that should be saved for their mid-late teens, but if they really want it, how the hell are we going to stop them?).

      STOP LYING TO YOUR KIDS.

      Don't make them grow up in an imaginary world you've built for them.. They will be totally unprepared for the real horrors, or the real world. Your job as a parent is to educate your kids as to what is [relatively] right and [relatively] wrong. Don't be afraid of sex, it's not wrong, and it doesn't have to be dirty (I still remember the first pr0n pic I downloaded from a local BBS, it was a girl who had a sweater on, the kind with lots of holes in it, and you could ALMOST SEE A NIPPLE! me and my friends were amazed. This was more then enough for us.)

      Kids get curious around the age of 12 .. waiting until they're 21, 18, or even 15, is FAR TOO LATE. If you don't educate your kids, the world will, and the world isn't a very caring, nor loving teacher.
      • Re:Online porn (Score:2, Insightful)

        by stratjakt (596332)
        >> Kids get curious around the age of 12 ..

        And until that age they should be allowed to be children.

        Making kids grow up too soon, and expecting them to be miniature adults when they're 5 or 6 is probably the most damaging thing you can do to them.
        • until that age they should be allowed to be children.


          So, how about letting them seek whatever interests them? Let to themselves they will pass over pr0n sites, just like they pass over sites involving tax laws or whatever is the most boring subject in the internet. You can rest assured, no one is trying to sell pr0n to your kids. After all, you didn't give them your credit card number, did you?


          However, by setting artificial restrictions and prohibitions on certain sites, the perceived value in looking at those sites increases accordingly. Possibly, the reason why there's so much sex on the net is because it's regulated at other media like movies, TV, or magazines.

    • Re:Online porn (Score:3, Interesting)

      by stratjakt (596332)
      I agree with the parent. Kids shouldnt be allowed to view adult material, and it really shouldn't require anything but some common sense and good faith from the web community to prevent it. But that good faith doesnt exist.

      I built a PC for each of my children, for their rooms to do whatever they want with. I dont want to have to sit over their shoulders and watch them constantly, because I want them to be able to learn the computer the way I did, by just screwing around on it. I want them to be independent and learn from doing, like I did.

      So I set up a proxy for them, with PICS filtering and other 'standards' (squid and dansguardian, OT: anyone know how to transparently proxy with dansguardian?. The idea was it would make a good enough whitelist.

      Now, I'm more worried about the kids finding a pokemon chat room and being stalked by some pedophile than I am about them accidentally seeing a boob.

      cartoonnetwork.com has a really cool (kid speaking) c-toon trading game my one kid loves. You watch TV on fridays and they give out codes, which you punch in to the website, to get c-toon cards, and then can play a card game (pokemon like) online with other kids. Whats great about it is that there's absolutely no way for personal information to get across. You dont pick a username, it presents a list of made-up silly names that you choose. You cant chat, you can pick from lists of prewritten phrases. (So no trolls posting ascii goatse)

      Anyways, back on topic. I've noticed that some pricks out there put fake PICS and other codes into their porn websites. IMO it's a pretty contemptable way to make another nickel or two off of their banners. Its also IMO criminal, since they're basically marking the content as a childrens site, which is like sticking copies of Hustler into kids hallowe'en bags.

      Meh anyways. I dont know what my point is. Some people are just pricks. We wouldnt need laws if they werent. Personally I'm in favor of the kids.us domain, I think it's the best compromise. It gives parents a very simple way to whitelist for younger children. It would be nice if it didnt have to be mandated by government, but if you left the registrars to regulate it, well, they wouldnt.
  • by ChuckDivine (221595) <charles.j.divine@gmail.com> on Friday March 07, 2003 @11:02AM (#5458595) Homepage

    I'm sure we're going to hear again from the gang that just wants to "protect the children." And we're going to hear from the people who want parents to surf the Net with their children, thus combatting the problem from another approach.

    Might I suggest a different approach?

    Children are going to be exposed to bad things. They always have. At home I have a book titled "Pioneer Women." It's about the roles of women in settling the western United States. One photograph is particularly memorable. It's of a small child looking at the body of man who's just been killed in a gun fight. I suspect that's more traumatic than seeing a bit of pr0n on the Internet.

    When I was a child, I was exposed to information about the Holocaust and World War II. As a teenager I lived through the Cuban missile crisis and the Kennedy assassination. Children today have been exposed to the horrors of 9/11. All these things are far more troubling for children than a bit of pr0n on the Internet.

    So, short of shutting up children in some sort of tightly controlled, heavily censored environment (hmm, sounds like a jail), they will be exposed to bad stuff. Perhaps, instead of trying to shield our little darlings, we should instead be teaching them that the world is not always a nice place. We should be giving them the tools to deal with nastiness and worse. I think this is a far healthier approach to take -- as well as more practical.

    • >> we should instead be teaching them that the world is not always a nice place.

      We should answer questions that they have, but we definately shouldnt be forcing or expecting them to grow up by the age of 5 or 6.

      There's the saying "you're right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose". I submit that peoples right to act like assholes stops when my kids are around.
      • I submit that peoples right to act like assholes stops when my kids are around.

        Not that I go out of my way to act like an asshole when kids are around, but I find that statment pretty offensive.

        What you imply is that whatever your standards of "acting like an asshole" are not acceptable when your kids are present. And who exactly made you the moral judge of human behaviour?

        There have been quite a few times in my life that I have seen people act, in what *I* consider, in a fashon that I would qualify them as assholes but does that qualify me to say that they can't? I don't think so. If I find their behaviour offensive, but they arn't doing anything directly to me, then I can always leave.
    • The "two wrongs make a right argument". Just because some pioneer kid saw a dead body doesn't make it right. Perhaps that kid was scarred for life, or developed some mental problem as a result of that incident.

      I agree that we need to teach kids the world is a nasty place - but I for one want to control the rate at which I tell my kid that. Getting hard core pr0n spam in my inbox makes it harder for me to raise my child how I want to.
      • Getting hard core pr0n spam in my inbox makes it harder for me to raise my child how I want to.

        So don't let your kid use unfiltered email. Check through your kids email and make sure there isn't anything bad in it. You can do this, and with filtering you'll just have one or two spams the filter missed and maybe an occasional dirty old man in there to go through, so its not like a major drain on your time.

        While I would personally love it to not get spam anymore, this isn't the way to go about it. Filtering software is available for you to evaluate and purchase and use if you choose to, not for the government to impose on everyone.
    • by Reziac (43301)
      And fact is, if a young kid trips over a porn site, chances are he won't know what the hell it IS, other than lots of naked bodies -- and to an 8 year old, what's interesting about that?

      If the parent goes OMIGHOD and snatches away the mouse, the kid gets the notion that here's something worth investigating, just because forbidding something induces automatic curiosity as to WHY it's forbidden.

      Whereas if the parent says, "Oh yeah, some adults like to look at naked people" like it's no big deal, the kid is likely to shrug and look for something more interesting (to a kid).

  • by robbway (200983) on Friday March 07, 2003 @11:04AM (#5458614) Journal
    This law allowed the government to withhold funds from any library not applying the appropriate filtering software, or having ineffective filtering software. All filtering software is incomplete meaning you could "prove" arbitrarily that any library or group of libraries is unworthy of Fed funds due to ineffective Web filtering software.

    The filtering software also blocks educational/informational sites on things like: breast cancer, testicular cancer, tourism in Essex and Sussex, and sex education. Not to mention blocking adult content from adults.

    The core of the law has good intentions (another brick to the road to Hell), but the legaleze is vague and inappropriate.

    I've seen news stories locally (Baltimore) that claim this "requires libraries to allow pr0n surfing." Not so. Long before this law, most libraries have rules against such things, and still do. They also had a child internet area in view of a librarian's desk, and the adult area computers were off limits to ages 12 and under.

    I think the children were being protected just fine by the libraries already. Maybe we should let them take care of their own business.
  • by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79.gmail@com> on Friday March 07, 2003 @11:19AM (#5458775) Homepage
    I've been arguing with myself back and forth, and finally have settled on the more libertarian side of my internal dispute.

    Parents, if you don't want your kids to be exposed to materials on the internet you find objectionable, don't let them use the internet. Up until middle school, at the earliest, I don't see any reason why a child would NEED to use the internet. And by then they've probably seen/heard everything at their local public school.

    And of course, parents who don't care what their children see are free to let them run wild.

  • If my kids want/need to be on the internet they go to our central computer in our dining room which is in full view of most of the house. The computers in my kids rooms while networked together for games do not have internet access.

    It would have been nice for this to pass for the loser parents that don't know or care what their kids are getting into.

    Censorship? I don't think so. For crying out loud you need a license to own a dog but any idiot can have a child.
    • So those parents are losers because they aren't computer nerds who know how to network computers together without an internet connection?
      • Dude, a wireless network in a box from Linksys or other somesuch is a no-brainer for those literate folks out there. People don't do it on their own because they are afraid, or don't have time or a host of other reasons. Not because it is some sort of technical-witchcraft requiring magical tattoos...

        For example, I do not change my own oil in my car because I find my time and clothes more valuable than the $30 or so I pay for the oil change. I could figure it out with 20 minutes of reading the manual, a few tools and a place to lift the car. The fact that I don't do it myself is a simple choice.

        Along a simliar vein, anybody that finds it important can set up a network in their home.

        If I complained that it was unfair that I had to take my car to get the oil changed and that they charged for it, yes, then I'd be a loser.

        So, yes, they are losers. They are losers because they refuse to RTFM. If they use their loser-dom as an excuse to pass a bunch of restrictive laws, then they're a menace.
  • Stupid americans (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday March 07, 2003 @11:42AM (#5458980) Homepage
    What makes people think a law like this will help to protect their children from pr0n on the internet. Even if a law is enacted within the united states, there is no way of them forcing this law on sites situated outside their borders. It would be completely useless
  • by scrotch (605605) on Friday March 07, 2003 @11:48AM (#5459035)
    Seems like many people just don't want to face the fact that there is violence and nudity in the world. They ignore it in while we go to war, they ignore it on the streets and they try to simply not deal with it anywhere they encounter it. It would be much better if people faced the fact that most of the world is not like the Mall. If kids were educated about what goes on and the consequences of these things instead of insulated and kept ignorant, maybe they wouldn't have such devastating consequences. Maybe advertising that plays to our ignorance wouldn't work as well. Maybe people would realize that "Bombing Evil" is overly-simplistic and have some understanding that it could have more consequences than a football game.
  • by BeckyGrz (645128) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:30PM (#5459429) Homepage Journal
    its only good parenting that does. Teach your kids to know what's right and wrong, and letting them make decisions from there. Yes there are many sites on the net I wouldn't deem appropiate for kids, but those kids should know better too. These are not pre-schoolers and kindergardeners, these are kids who should already know what goes on in the world, and how to used the back button on the browser. If they're curious..ok, what harm is it going to do them in reality?..it might bring about questions that are awkward for the adults to answer, but this is an opportunity for the parents to give their moral views. If they've been taught right, they won't be warped for life... children are not innocent sponges that soak up and become whatever they see, they can think and make value decisions on their own, and at the ages at which you're most worried about them on the net, its going to be the values taught by parents that win out in their minds over everyone else's.. Locking children into little protective worlds will only create a generation of jaded adults...oh wait
  • Good. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Openadvocate (573093) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:33PM (#5459468)
    You can make all the rules you want but it won't help much. It won't make the internet more safe. The internet is a poor substitute for a babysitter.
    I do think that everybody should label their site fx. using icra [icra.org], if many sites did this, you could block all sites that had the "wrong" content and sites that didn't have the tag at all. It's no big deal to add it, you can add a meta tag to all your pages or tell your webserver to add it as a header line if you have thousands of pages you don't feel like updating manually.

    There has been a lot of talk about this safe-for-children top-level domain which I also think is good, but why not use a tagging of the pages like the one I mentioned above? It takes less than 30 min. to "tag" your site.
    • NO (Score:4, Insightful)

      by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:51PM (#5459673)
      How many times does it have to be said...a 'safe' TLD cannot work.

      Define a 'porn' site.

      Is it one with a dorm webcam? Maybe, depending on level of undress.
      Is it one that may contain links to various other sites depicting nudity or other depravity? /. fits the bill here. goatse for one is often linked from here.
      Is it one with photos of nude and semi nude females? A slideshow of a recent beach trip might fall in here.
      Is a picture of the female sex organs porn or non porn? Maybe both. Medical sites would fall where, exactly?

      And then there's always the problem of who is defining the 'wrong content'. Bikinis are taboo in some countries. Do we fall to that level? Or is the break point the knee? Or thigh...who determines? Local standards? Podunk, Iowa, or San Francisco's? Ogden, Utah, or Greenwich Village?

      Who is responsible for the content on their website? A blogger, who happens to have some user link a porn site or post a nude pic would then have to become a 'not safe' site.

      In theory, a kid-safe TLD is a good idea. Try to put it into practice, though. The obvious porn sites are easy. That huge grey area in the middle is the problem.
  • Are there any studies that demonstrate that occasionally stumbling on adult content can damage a child? It seems far-fetched to me.
  • by moncyb (456490) on Friday March 07, 2003 @01:40PM (#5460263) Journal

    From the article:

    ...including requiring Web-page viewers to give a credit card number, would unfairly require adults to identify themselves before viewing...

    This is much more of a problem than just "violating" your privacy by identifying yourself. There is a real risk of credit card fraud here. Anyone remember the stories about the so called "free" pr0n sites asking for a CC# (under this law) so they could verify age, then charging the person's card because they put a clause somewhere in the fine print?

    Would you really want to give out your CC# to every site which has "PG" "PG-13", or "R" rated content? That's probably half the sites on the internet. This is a stupid law. IIRC this is the law where the same standard also applies to any site which you can post messages or give out personal information. (Right now they just require playing with cookies) There goes the other half.

  • by Liza (97242) <{su.azil-llij} {ta} {todhsals}> on Friday March 07, 2003 @03:11PM (#5461255)
    I noticed in reading the comments that people seem to have confused COPA, the Children's Online Protection Act, which seeks to restrict content posted by web site owners, and CIPA, the Children's Internet Protection Act, which seeks to require schools and libraries to use Internet filters to block access to sexually explicit material.

    I can't believe you can't keep these laws straight! ;) Don't forget COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, and CPPA, the so-called "virtual child porn" law.

    Short & sweet VERY GOOD article explaining which law is which, and their current status (if, like COPA and CIPA, currently being challenged in the courts): http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A397 48-2002May31.html [washingtonpost.com]

    Liza

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