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Censorship The Internet

Utah Considers Forcing ISPs to Filter Content 508

Posted by Zonk
from the regulating-reality dept.
tipsymonkey writes "Cnet is running an article on how the Utah governor is considering signing a law that forces ISPs to filter content deemed harmful to minors. This would apply to large scale ISPs like AOL as well. They have until March 22 to decide whether or not to sign this into law."
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Utah Considers Forcing ISPs to Filter Content

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  • by Taladar (717494) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @12:22PM (#11853073)
    More likely: ISPs would leave that State alone and move to other, more sane ones.
  • by WolfWithoutAClause (162946) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @12:28PM (#11853133) Homepage
    Shouldn't content be signed to indicate that it *is* suitable for minors?

    That way browsers could run checks on it and only display stuff that is suitable.

  • Re:C'mon, folks. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 0123456 (636235) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @12:33PM (#11853189)
    "This is a far cry from censorship."

    It's _one step_ from censorship: first you force ISPs to build the infrastructure to censor content, then you force them to turn it on permanently a few years down the line.

    "It's more like the V-Chip we all have to pay for in new televisions"

    Which was just as stupid, and another example of backdoor censorship. Made a few bucks for electronics companies, though.

    If people want a censored ISP, then they can go to an ISP which chooses to censor content. If they don't want a censored ISP they can go to an ISP that doesn't censor content. It's none of the government's god-damn business whether people choose to have someone else censor their use of the Internet or not.
  • ISP (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ucblockhead (63650) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @12:33PM (#11853190) Homepage Journal
    Considering the size of Utah's market, if I were a big ISP like AOL, I would simply terminate service for all Utah customers. You can bet that if a couple biggies did that, this'd get repealed damn fast.
  • by Vihai (668734) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @12:39PM (#11853243) Homepage
    May I sue the state if my child gets to see a harmful site because they didn't list it?
  • by the pickle (261584) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @12:44PM (#11853280) Homepage
    So if I request Utah Online, Inc. not transmit "offensive" content, does that apply to _me_, or does it apply to _all_ of UOI's customers, because one person made the request?

    p
  • RTFA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ca1v1n (135902) <<snook> <at> <guanotronic.com>> on Saturday March 05, 2005 @12:53PM (#11853355)
    Please note, the requirement is that the ISPs provide a mechanism by which their customers may, at their option, disable access to those sites from their account. This is on a per-customer basis, which is an improvement over Pennsylvania's statewide effort that was thrown out recently. The list of blocked sites would be an official state list, meaning it's prone to public scrutiny, which is a positive step away from the secret list content filters.

    Unfortunately, implementing this requires one of two things:

    1) IP-level filtering, which will block non-adult sites on the same hosting services.

    2) Transparent proxying, which breaks lots of things, and is relatively easy to circumvent unless even more things are broken.

    As far as I can tell, the law creates a registry which the service providers must either block or provide customers software to block. It doesn't seem to require that they clairvoyantly block proxies, which is technically infeasible. Unfortunately, the full text is not available, as the Utah legistlature's web server is returning an error on the text as amended, which is 10 times as long as the text as introduced.

    While this is a stupid use of taxpayer money, I don't find the issue of a central, publicly-scrutinizable list of adult sites to be blocked voluntarily to be a bad thing. The real danger is that they will mandate that it be used in schools, libraries, etc., in which case it's truly a 1st Amendment issue. The amount of money they've allocated to build the registry ($100,000) is about enough money to run a dozen obscenity cases if you're REALLY lucky, so the list is going to be full of errors. This is bad policy regardless, but if it is used anywhere in any state-run institution, whether or not by mandate, it's censorship, and mistaken censorship at that.
  • Stack the courts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by poptones (653660) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @01:05PM (#11853440) Journal
    Don't forget one of the justices is pretty much at death's door and the idiots of this country, in spite of knowing this all along, went ahead and elected someone simply because he was hailing the holy book. Once the laws are changed, whether they abide by constitutionalist principles or not, if the courts are stacked against you you lose.

    step 1: paint the internet as evil mean and nasty. Get the brainwashed masses on your side (from both the left and the right) by demonizing the internet as a haven for pornographers and child molestors.

    step 2: stack the courts

    step 3: get a judgement against one of those non-pornographic child model sites you've been demonizing that equates their content with porn.

    step 4: now you can define porn any way you like, the SCOTUS won't stop you because they're stacked 5-4 for the bible beaters and you have a precedent saying porn isn't about content it's about intent of the viewer. Now EVERYTHING "we don't like" can be called porn. Say bye-bye to freedom of expression on the internet, hello to the new corporate padlocks "to protect the children."

    step 5: profit! (at least if you're a giant media corp)
  • Add to the list... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ricochet81 (707864) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @02:03PM (#11853888)
    I have heared from a former mormon the following: - Mormons believe if you are not "good" in this life, you return as a black person in the next. - Before a Mormon virgin is married, she is forced to be bathed (fully nude) by a group of clergy elders in the temple, all alone. - The only way a person goes to hell is if they were a Mormon, and decided to not be anymore. Mormons go to heaven, non-mormons go to heaven, but "lost" mormons know the truth, chose against it, and therefore go to hell.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @02:10PM (#11853931) Homepage Journal
    And when Slashdotter corporations donate to their campaigns, politicians will actually care what Slashdotters say, even if our comments are insightful. And when Slashdotters actually organize as voters in districts, politicians will actually care what we read.
  • by v1 (525388) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @02:28PM (#11854026) Homepage Journal
    that makes it illegal to pass a law that cannot be enforced, or that cannot be reasonably followed by even 1% of the people it covers.
  • by xtal (49134) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @03:12PM (#11854291)
    Specializing in high speed caching of the internet's raunchiest and most controversial sites.

    It would be interestng to compare the bandwidth statistics, even in Utah.

    pr0n is a multi-billion dollar industry that doesn't exist.
  • by Reziac (43301) * on Saturday March 05, 2005 @03:35PM (#11854427) Homepage Journal
    Well, I wouldn't call Puritans nonconformists. They wanted everyone to conform.. to THEIR ideals, forcibly if need be. (Which is why they were kicked out of England, and then out of Holland -- they didn't leave either *voluntarily*.)

    Unfortunately, that's a lot of the foundation for America's mindset; even lo these several centuries later, Puritanism rears its ugly head. Not that America is alone in having such issues, but it does run completely counter to what we *supposedly* stand for.

    BTW, what *did* Jefferson believe? I don't recall anything about that from my gleefully-dirt-digging high school US-history teacher (if she'd known, she would have told us!)

  • Re:Crazy Utah (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @04:12PM (#11854660) Journal
    This is a nonsensical claim. No one is starting that an infant, once born, could ever be legally killed. Our culture, throughout its history, has recognized someone as a person only once they are born. I'm willing to say that I find late-term abortions wrong, as the nervous system and brain are sufficiently developed that one can argue of the fetus having consciousness.
  • by Alsee (515537) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @04:14PM (#11854675) Homepage
    Of interesting note is the "Jefferson Bible". He took the Christian Bible and stripped out all referrences to miracles and the supernatural. In particular Jesus is an extrodinary philosopher and teacher, and presents his teachings, but he is an otherwise ordinary man who simply lived and died. "In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills."

    You can find Jefferson quotes on Christianity and religion here, [nobeliefs.com] and easily find countless quotes of all sorts from Google. [google.com]

    History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government.

    -
  • Re:Crazy Utah (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MemeSpitter (781288) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @04:34PM (#11854781)
    As a non-Mormon Utah resident, I think the problem is more that of attempting to enforce Mormon doctrine by law. This current issue is nothing compared to others, as it's the customers' choice whether to actually block the content or not. Although I wouldn't be surprised at a law that blocked content without volition.

    You want some examples of bad Utah legislation? Come 'on down to a Salt Lake bar and buy a drink. If only there was a BugMeNot for private club membership rediculousness. Oh, and when you finally get your hands on said drink, it's only 3.2 percent, so on a typical night of drinking beer, you're more likely to get fat than drunk.
    A double? That's a drink sold with an extra shot glass of the alcohol involved on the side, charged extra.

    It all makes so much sense, of course, when I think of all those alcoholics who run up to me on the street everyday gushing about how the lower content of Utah beer cured their alcoholism.
  • by myowntrueself (607117) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @06:11PM (#11855371)
    I'm thinking... this is the USA... and this is different to Iran and China... how?

  • XXX domain (Score:3, Interesting)

    by minairia (608427) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @07:02PM (#11855687)
    Could someone elucidate why the internet community is nervous about implementing an XXX domain for all porn, adult sites, etc. to be assigned to? To me, this seems the best solution and the best way to avoid censorship. (We have four more years of Bush, 8 years of Jeb and then 8 of Condi Rice ahead of us ... they're going to get judges on the courts who will start letting these laws stand).

    I know that there was some worry about borderline sites (breast cancer, anatomy, etc.) being forced into XXX status. It seems to me that a review board could decide on those, or, even individual ISPs or users that block XXX urls could whitelist the borderline ones. All in all it seems too small an issue to derail the whole idea.

    I have heard it said that this won't stop foreign sites. This is true,but if all US porn was put under an XXX domain, that would be big step. And remember, the porn isn't being banned. People, companies and ISPs would be able to make their own choices about what sites to let in. As for who gets the new XXX domain names, I say that existing .com porn site holders should get the right of first refusal.

    I like porn as much as the next guy. At the same time, I don't think it ought to be accessible at schools, libraries, work, etc. To people who cry "censorship!" at this, what would happen if you took out a Penthouse in home-room in gradeschool, or sat there at work reading a Playboy? Access to porn should be something I am able to block, allow etc. based on my own choices either on my machine or by choosing an ISP with XXX blocking policies that fit my needs.

  • by Alsee (515537) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @09:24PM (#11856474) Homepage
    I've always like the idea of banning someone from government office if they violate their oath to uphold the constitution by voting for an excessive number of bills later struck down as unconstitutional.

    -

Dennis Ritchie is twice as bright as Steve Jobs, and only half wrong. -- Jim Gettys

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