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Texas Bill to Filter Highway Rest Stop Internet 627

Posted by timothy
from the but-this-could-never-happen-with-municipal-wifi dept.
girlchik writes "HB 3314, up for hearing in the Texas House State Affairs committee on Monday, would require the state to filter wireless internet access at highway rest stops. This bill mandates filtering at any state-provided wireless network on public property. Since last May, the Texas Department of Transportation has offered wifi access at state rest stops. There is also wifi access at some Texas state parks provided in partnership with Tengo Internet. This bill protects truckers at highway rest stops and campers in their RVs at campsites from adult content. Sounds both wasteful and unconstitutional."
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Texas Bill to Filter Highway Rest Stop Internet

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  • CB radios (Score:3, Funny)

    by fembots (753724) on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:26AM (#12266468) Homepage
    Are they subject to filtering soon too?
    • by ShaniaTwain (197446) on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:36AM (#12266534) Homepage
      This bill protects truckers at highway rest stops and campers in their RVs at campsites from adult content.

      THANK GOD! someone is finally protecting the nations truckers from adult content.. this is particularly good for all those underage truckers. We'll definately want to get those CB's filtered, as well as payphones, cellphones and conversations in diners. It might take a lot of work, but eventually we'll get everything clean clean clean.

      Then we can start to work on preventing Male Trucker Lactation [bugshit.com]
  • by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:26AM (#12266469) Homepage Journal
    Smokey on my IP Log, Bandit.
  • by Zorilla (791636) on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:27AM (#12266473)
    I guess truckers need to learn how to use web proxies now?
  • by GlassUser (190787) <slashdot.glassuser@net> on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:27AM (#12266476) Homepage Journal
    Wasteful, definately. I don't know about unconstitutional though. The state's constitution definately allows it to provide public services like this. I would think that filtering would just be providing less of a service (eg not full internet access).

    The biggest problem is that this filtering stuff is pretty much totally ineffective. It blocks a lot of decent stuff that I actually need (sysadmin tools for example), and the pr0ns people still find ways to get the waving wangs through the filters.
    • by DrEldarion (114072) on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:50AM (#12266614)
      Is it really wasteful, though? The state is providing access, so that means the state is footing the bandwidth bill. Would you want to pay for a staggering amount of bandwidth used by horny truckers downloading pics and movies constantly?

      One could argue that it's PREVENTING waste of money.
      • by Sunlighter (177996) on Monday April 18, 2005 @01:08AM (#12266715)

        If that were the real intent, they could set up a content-neutral form of blocking, based on actual bandwidth usage.

      • Thank god someone has some common sense around here!

        Its so sad seeing the great US of A being buried under the tide of politically incorrect rubbish available on the internet

        If the state pays for it then the state should be in control of it. Though idealy the best way to deal with the problem would be to monitor all of the transactions all of the time and to detect those truckers abusing the service.

        The proper course of action would then be to imprision them without trial and re-educate them. I'm sure m
    • by humanerror (56316) on Monday April 18, 2005 @01:04AM (#12266697)

      It's actionable when government makes laws abridging the freedom of speech. Filtering a "public service" in such a way as to restrict free speech (and its complement, the freedom to hear said speech if you so choose) is an abridgment, by law. Calling it a "public service" or "public utility" and claiming a constitutional exemption just won't cut it. (the US Constitution trumps the TX one in this regard)

      Then there is your other point. Filtering does block arbitrary content which may or may not actually fall under the publicly stated guidelines for being blocked. How would the average user or the public ever know?

      "We're blocking porn, yup yup. Um, of course, there may be some collateral damage. You can't get to the ACLU, or the opposition candidates' websites. These things happen. But, please, just think of the children."

      If they are providing such a service on the taxpayer's dime, it must be usable by every taxpayer in whatever manner they so choose. Regulating speed limits on the taxpayer funded asphalt highways is one thing. Regulating the content which people choose to access on a taxpayer funded information highway is an altogether different thing - an unconstitutional, draconian, totalitarian one.

      • by R.Caley (126968) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:07AM (#12267154)
        Filtering a "public service" in such a way as to restrict free speech (and its complement, the freedom to hear said speech if you so choose) is an abridgment,

        The government deciding not to provide you with some particular service is not restriction on freedom of speech as that is usually understood.

        The first amendment is an expression of the idea that the state should not prevent you from speaking, not that the state is obliged to in any way help people hear you. If you want people to see your pron at truckstops, set up your own wifi infrastructure.

        As proof, take the extreme case. Assume there is at least one truck stop at which they provide no wifi service at all (for technical or financial reasons). That is a 100% filter on the service provided to people who stop at that stop. I doubt any court would decide that was a first amendment issue.

        Or take state funded media. Obviously I can't give a Texas example, the UK government recently started broadcasting a channel of professional education programmes for teachers. Imagine Texas did the same. They would not thereby be obliged to broadcast every single possible programme on their channel.

        • by Cyn (50070)
          That's fine - if you offer a 100% free service, it can do as much or as little as you want it to.

          Just don't pay for it with tax dollars, then it's not free.

          It will actually cost them a lot more to implement and maintain filters than the 'free wifi' they are providing will cost. Think about where that money could go, instead of "protecting truckers", the poor innocent truckers. Maybe they could spend some of that money on extra police to get rid of the truckstop prostitutes (I shit you not). Which woul
        • by OWJones (11633) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:34AM (#12269169)

          The government deciding not to provide you with some particular service is not restriction on freedom of speech as that is usually understood.

          But that's not what's happening in this case. Here the government has provided the truckers with a given service, and are now attempting to restrict it in a content-specific manner. Material is withheld from the citizens specifically because of what it says or portrays. That's censorship.

          As proof, take the extreme case. Assume there is at least one truck stop at which they provide no wifi service at all (for technical or financial reasons). That is a 100% filter on the service provided to people who stop at that stop. I doubt any court would decide that was a first amendment issue.

          Apples and oranges. Your "extreme case" is a case of content-neutral filtering. It does not discriminate on any particular basis. All content representing all points of view is being "withheld" regardless of what it says or portrays. What the state is proposing to do is filter based on content, which is a big no-no.

          Or take state funded media. Obviously I can't give a Texas example, the UK government recently started broadcasting a channel of professional education programmes for teachers. Imagine Texas did the same. They would not thereby be obliged to broadcast every single possible programme on their channel.

          No, they would have to select programs in a way that didn't filter out or censor on any of the grounds that tend to get higher scrutiny from the courts.

          -jdm

      • Nope (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Monday April 18, 2005 @08:19AM (#12268050)
        To those who don't recognize a troll...

        It's actionable when government makes laws abridging the freedom of speech. Filtering a "public service" in such a way as to restrict free speech (and its complement, the freedom to hear said speech if you so choose) is an abridgment, by law. Calling it a "public service" or "public utility" and claiming a constitutional exemption just won't cut it. (the US Constitution trumps the TX one in this regard)

        The US Constitution does NOT hamper the ability of a content provider to censor the content they provide. Under your argument the FCC itself would be unconstitutional. So would filters in libraries.

        Regulating the content which people choose to access on a taxpayer funded information highway is an altogether different thing - an unconstitutional, draconian, totalitarian one.

        Where in this story did it say they're regulating the internet? They're NOT - they're regulating access at THEIR WAPs.

        The 1st provides for Freedom of Press - it does NOT require that all government presses be free. Similarly, 1st amendment doesn't require that all WAPs be free, just that you have the right to BUY YOUR OWN. What, do you think all government printing presses are free too? Can I go into a government press with a pamphlet and make them print it for me? No.

        If they are providing such a service on the taxpayer's dime, it must be usable by every taxpayer in whatever manner they so choose.

        That's factually incorrect. Speed limits on highways, to go with your example, prove you wrong. Not to mention that would be freaking stupid.

        If you're a troll, that was well crafted, hats off. If not, actually read what the laws say and mean before spouting off about things "Draconian" there Chicken Little.

      • by Joey7F (307495) on Monday April 18, 2005 @08:25AM (#12268085) Homepage Journal
        At my old high school we had content filtering but it extended beyond porn. Violence, bad language (- this was shotty filtering at best, as slashdot feedbacks that are full of fucktards and the like still got through)

        I was doing a report for my history class on racism in America, so doing the natural thing, I went to various websites, including the Ku Klux Klan's website. Well that was blocked because they promote violence. I thought, well, fair enough. So I went home, looked at the site from my unfiltered connection, and saw nothing that promoted violence. So I went back to school and pointed out that I was doing a report the website did not promote violence, pornography or profanity, but was still blocked.

        The librarian said, "Of course the KKK promotes violence" I said, "They may, but not on their site, I am not arguing whether they did or not, I am merely saying they did not now."

        "Well, they are a racist organization"
        "I agree, which is why I am trying to go to their site for my report on racism in america"

        So racism was now the excuse. So just for kicks and a few giggles I went to the black panthers website. No problems. The NAACP...no problems. Let me try the NAAWP (you can guess what that stands for) yup, you guessed it, problems. I pointed this out to the librarian and said, "The Black Panthers are a racist, homophobic, and antisemtic organization (much like the KKK, in fact I believe they worked together on antijewish causes) and they are permitted. This is a clear double standard"

        Point being, this nonsense is applied by both Conservatives and Liberals. Oh that said, it is a state government, and they have the authority to offer web access that can only visit slashdot.org, if they want.

        --Joey
    • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Monday April 18, 2005 @02:13AM (#12266988) Homepage
      I would think that filtering would just be providing less of a service (eg not full internet access).

      You would be wrong, from a constitutional point of view. The state can certainly provide less of a service, if they like -- they can throttle bandwidth, allow only 2 connections to any hotspot, provide only 2 hotspots in the entire state, heack, they can cancel the whole project and buy bigger monitors. All of those would be perfectly OK.

      The ONLY thing they can't do is build a system with taxpayer dollars and then limit access to speech (for adults) based on the content of the speech.

      They can limit it in any way they like, so long as the limits are content-neutral. WiFi access is no different than parade permits -- you don't have to provide either, but if you do, everyone has to be treated equally.
    • the pr0ns people still find ways to get the waving wangs through the filters.

      Oh great, thanks a lot! Now I won't ever be able to look at filtered cofee the same again!
    • by mbrother (739193) * <.ude.oywu. .ta. .rehtorbm.> on Monday April 18, 2005 @02:56AM (#12267123) Homepage
      One website that gets filtered a lot is xxx.lanl.gov, which is a physics preprint server that a lot of scientists use to post/read papers prior to publication (which can take months). The "xxx" is the problem, of course, but when the site was established very early in the history of the internet, it didn't seem like such a bad idea. And now that's where people expect to find it.

      The filtering thing just seems like a bad, unAmerican idea to me. Protect people from dangerous things, not from things they seek out.
  • "This bill mandates filtering at any state-provided wireless network on public property."

    Does muni WiFi still sound like a good idea?

    • by ImaLamer (260199) <john.lamar@NOspAM.gmail.com> on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:47AM (#12266594) Homepage Journal
      You know what, when one of the last WiFi stories came up I had a similar comment [slashdot.org]. It was modded flamebait because everyone wants muni WiFi (but they don't want to think about any possible down sides).
      In fact, I said:
      Just wait a few years when the religious zealots in town decide that "their" tax money isn't going to go to pr0n and that there should be filters in place. Hasn't this been the argument when it comes to filtering any other publicly funded access?

      Now, who told you so?
      • Well, look at it this way: If I were to hypothetically offer you $100, but you told me you were going to buy heroin with it, I might withhold that money from you.

        The same goes for anything funded by taxpayers. If most of the folks paying taxes don't like what you're going to do with it, you're not entitled to spend their money. If a municipality decides to block anything because a large contingent of its taxpayers think it should be that way, then so be it. You're not entitled to spend other people's
  • by UlfGabe (846629) on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:28AM (#12266480) Journal
    It's these fellows who have been lobbying so hardcore for filtering on reststops. Think about it, no free internet PORN = a garunteed purchase by male truckdriver/camper/12 year old of a 10 dollar titty mag.

    ARG. worst. cockblock. evar.
  • hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:29AM (#12266492) Journal
    Maybe to prevent walking by a car and seeing some pervert jacking off? I know I don't want to walk by a car and notice some girl being screwed by a horse while some weird looking guy smiles politely and acts like he's not doing anything...
    • Re:hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:41AM (#12266567) Homepage Journal
      Have you ever seen a magazine rack at a truck stop?
    • Re:hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nick_davison (217681) on Monday April 18, 2005 @01:23AM (#12266772)
      Maybe to prevent walking by a car and seeing some pervert jacking off? I know I don't want to walk by a car and notice some girl being screwed by a horse while some weird looking guy smiles politely and acts like he's not doing anything...

      There are already laws in place that regulate that. Spanking your plank in public, whether via wifi or a magazine is equally punishable.

      Quite whose business it is, however, what a guy does in the back compartment of a big rig, with no windows below 8-feet off the ground and curtains drawn, is beyond me.

      The bigger issue is what happens when a trucker checks the highway patrol warnings page and can't view it because "Woman flashing her breasts on overpass." causes the entire page to be censored. Or, to use your analogy, "Animals escaped from farmyard. One horse, one cock and a couple of bitches in right lane."

      What other keywords would get blocked? Would every driver with a consignment of porn that he was carrying be unable to access his email because key words in his shipment caused every email about it to be filtered?

      Even if they just filter specific websites, all it takes is for Larry Flynt to sue for access to be re-enabled to his website as he runs an extranet for his delivery drivers from it and the filtering now penalises legitimate business.

      In short, it's a dumb idea that can't be implemented without causing all kinds of problems to perfectly legal business and the only justification for it - stopping weirdos from jacking off - already has perfectly good laws addressing it.
    • Re:hmm (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NanoGator (522640)
      "Maybe to prevent walking by a car and seeing some pervert jacking off?"

      Preventing the service will not prevent this from happening. If he's got a laptop, he's got plenty of capability to bring it with him.

      Besides, the dude doesn't want you seeing him any more than you want to see him.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:31AM (#12266498)
    for truck stop prostitutes!
  • Do not underestimate force and resolve of truck driving industry.

    Those willful men can crack ANY internet cyber-code system, and bring Texas lawmen to their knees.

  • I was just thinking about why America is an empire on its downfall, but now I believe it is rather obvious: expensive political micromanagement on a scale that is unfathomable and hardly in line with what the founding fathers ever had in mind for this new, great nation.
    • Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin didn't have to deal with "Mighty Bruce & his 12-inch Love-Log", or "Lucy Does Lumberjacks".

      Remember, this was waaaay back when France was our friend...
  • by kwerle (39371) <kurt@CircleW.org> on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:33AM (#12266516) Homepage Journal
    My legalese is not that great, but it looks like they will only prohibit access to porn, etc, at correctional facilities. They MAY prohibit access at others sites, and will have (it looks like one person) someone to help these other sites implement filters if they want them.

    The article as posted certainly seems like flamebait to me. There is no requirement that the state of texas provide net access to anyone. If certain locallities want to implement porn filters, I don't see how that's a bad thing at all. If you want your net porn, go buy it.

    Last I checked, my local library doesn't stock hustler - though they do have people mag. Is that also an attack on my 1st amendment rights?
    • First, I read Hustler for the articles and People mag? Have you ever seen it? It's obscene to me!
    • Evidently, anytime the issue of net filtering is mentioned on /. the 1st amendment crowd starts hootin' and hollerin' about rights, etc.

      You make a very good point. Net access is not a right and the State of Texas providing a free service to the public does not constitute the establishment of a new right. Also, you're right about libraries. They don't stock hard-core porn so why should they provide it via the internet? If someone desperately needs porn they should go buy it with their own money.

      On

      • Net access is not a right and the State of Texas providing a free service to the public does not constitute the establishment of a new right.

        Ahem. Contrary to popular perception, the Constitution doesn't establish rights, it just emphasizes some particularly important ones while reminding us that other, unmentioned ones, also exist. Amendment IX:

        The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

        Now, you're right in that i

    • my *state* school library stocks hustler though....
  • What Ceasar funds... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PsiPsiStar (95676) on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:34AM (#12266519)
    ... Caesar controls.

    Of course, this seems to open the possibility that obscene materials could also be banned in email. Or am I misreading things?

    I like this section;

    (e) This section does not apply to a university system or
    institution of higher education as defined by Section 61.003,
    Education Code.


    So at least college kids can still look at porn and med students won't have the breasts filtered out of their diagrams.

    • - opens the possibility that obscene materials could be banned in email if that email were read at a correctional facility or truck stop.
  • Ha (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MrNonchalant (767683) on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:35AM (#12266527)
    This bill protects truckers...adult content.

    Don't make me laugh.

    On a more serious note, how much protection does any adult need? Further, howbout making it so this protection is opt out? Yeah, I didn't think the Texas state legislature would have satisfactory answers to either question.
  • From the story submission:

    "Sounds both wasteful and unconstitutional."

    Yep, sounds like a big waste of money. They should make people pay for it (preferably by a non-government outfit), then the whole censorship thing would be a complete non-issue. They should have done that in the first place.
  • by kschawel (823163) <.slashdot. .at. .li.ath.cx.> on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:36AM (#12266538)
    In the bill, it references section 43.21 of the Texas penal code. I looked it up to find the definition of obscenity (and material, but that's not interesting). Here:
    1. "Obscene" means material or a performance that:

    A. the average person, applying contemporary community standards,would find that taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest insex;

    B. depicts or describes:

    i. patently offensive representations or descriptions of ultimate sexual acts, normal or perverted, actual or simulated, including sexual intercourse, sodomy, and sexual bestiality; or

    ii. patently offensive representations or descriptions of masturbation, excretory functions, sadism, masochism, lewd exhibition of the genitals, the male or female genitals in a state of sexual stimulation or arousal, covered male genitals in a discernibly turgid state or a device designed and marketed as useful primarily for stimulation of the human genital organs; and

    C. taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political,and scientific value.
    I found C pretty funny, isn't that pretty much half of the internet?
    • I believe you have to meet all three criteria. It's not multiple definitions.

      But even so, yeah, about half the internet is porn.

      If you want odd legal standards, though, techically forcing an object into someone's mouth (even if the act is totally nonsexual) would be considered rape according to Illinois Law.
  • In my opinion, government should have a light touch, only doing what they absolutely need to do. They shouldn't be going around making laws based on moral reasons.
  • What?? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by crowemojo (841007) on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:43AM (#12266578)
    Sounds both wasteful and unconstitutional.

    Since when do we have the right to a free internet connection? Not only that, but the right to do whatever the heck we want on a connection that is by no means ours. Come on, that's taking it a bit far. I'm all for individual's rights, and not letting the man go too far, but it seems like people are quick to cry unconstitutional sometimes, which is a shame, becuase it dilutes the impact of similar, legitimate claims.
    • Re:What?? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Alsee (515537)
      Since when do we have the right to a free internet connection?

      You don't have a right to Social Security retirement money. But so long as the government DOES give out Social Security retirement money they can't, for example, only give it to white people.

      The government can provide me with communication services or not, but if they *do* then they cannot impose content based censorship on it. The government cannot meddle in the free exchange of ideas and information on the basis that it merely dislikes certa
  • by theraccoon (592935) on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:46AM (#12266593) Journal
    Finally! Now I'll be protected from all that p0rn getting onto my hard drive. And I'm certain those lonely truckers will be extra grateful for the protection. This is a win-win, folks!
  • Interesting Issue (Score:5, Informative)

    by logicnazi (169418) <logicnazi AT gmail DOT com> on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:49AM (#12266608) Homepage
    While this is certainly a disturbing development the constitutionality of it is unclear and quite interesting.

    On the one hand the first ammendment certainly does not require libraries to provide pornographic magazines or otherwise provide some unbiased representation of viewpoints. In general the first ammendment does not restrict the government from providing some content but not others (except when this infringes on the establishment clause).

    However, while library filtering has been deemed constitional the supreme court has also ruled that libraries must allow adults to bypass the filters. In other words apparently the supreme court has recognized that internet filtering is significantly different than buying library books. The library has legitimate financial constraints in what books it provides but does not in internet filtering. [cdt.org]

    So the question becomes very unclear in the case of truck stops. Since these are entierly automated they can't very well demand a librarian turn the filtering off. Still, since one does need to be at least 16 to drive and because of the real possibility that by providing enough government internet access filtering could stifle free speech I imagine it would be declared unconstitutional but it is a tough call.
    • Here it is with the link fixed

      While this is certainly a disturbing development the constitutionality of it is unclear and quite interesting.

      On the one hand the first ammendment certainly does not require libraries to provide pornographic magazines or otherwise provide some unbiased representation of viewpoints. In general the first ammendment does not restrict the government from providing some content but not others (except when this infringes on the establishment clause).

      However, while library filteri
  • by NitsujTPU (19263) on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:49AM (#12266610)
    It is important to protect truckers from adult content. You know how sensitive they can be! The last thing that I would want to see after a long drive, at the end of the day, would be a naked woman doing something sexual. Instead, it would be far better for me to read Slashdot, or something of that nature.

    You know what delicate flowers truckers can be!
    • by fbartho (840012)
      Fuck Cock Shit Balls Bitch. Now I've protected you from using the free trucker wifi to connect to slashdot. You're welcome. :)
  • This bill protects truckers at highway rest stops and campers in their RVs at campsites from adult content.

    Who would you want to protect from adult content?
    * Children
    * Video game players
    * Campers (not the video game type)
    * Yourself
    * Truckers

    Yeah, that's right. I'd vote to save the truckers from adult content. Truckers are just so vulnerable and are easily influenced.

    Then again, the article itself doesn't even have the word "protect" in it. As for blocking obscene material, I don't see any ac
  • Filtering software (Score:3, Insightful)

    by interstellar_donkey (200782) <pathighgate AT hotmail DOT com> on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:53AM (#12266638) Homepage Journal
    To date, no filtering software can successfully filter out pornographic or obscene materials. We simply haven't developed the AI that can distinguish between benign (or even educational) content and unacceptable content.

    When the government starts putting stock in these filtering packages, it opens them up to two types of problems.

    1. Lawsuits from organizations that produce otherwise perfectly acceptable content that are mistakenly labeled as obscene and blocked by the filters. We haven't seen this happen en masse yet, but I suspect liable suits will eventually become quite common.

    2. Lawsuits from individuals who are exposed to obscene content, and claim that the government was being remiss in its implied promise that the content would be safe "I only let my kids surf the web at the rest-stop because the state told me naughty websites wouldn't be allowed to get through. The government failed to do this, and now my kids have been exposed to naked women pooping on puppies".

    I am not a lawyer, so I may be missing something, but I'm really surprised the above two things haven't been happening more often with libraries and schools using filtering.

    Meanwhile, I'm just pissed off that when I'm away from home, so many of the websites I frequent are blocked. And not all of those websites are porno.
  • Another filter bill (Score:3, Interesting)

    by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Monday April 18, 2005 @01:01AM (#12266682) Homepage
    Back in 2001, I testified at a Texas senate hearing on internet filtering. This was a bill to require any computer sold to include a CD with censorware included on it.

    The bill was not well thought out, and eventutally dropped.

    This bill is just as well thought out. They don't define obscene, and it is impossible to filter out obscene materials. Though the issue OS compatibility does not apply the issue of what is obscene and how do keep up with the changes on the web still exist.

  • unconstitutional? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ltwally (313043) on Monday April 18, 2005 @01:04AM (#12266693) Homepage Journal
    "Sounds both wasteful and unconstitutional."
    Well, I'd tend to agree with the wasteful bit... but, unconstitutional? Federal, state and local governments have censors on what can and cannot be transmitted over public air-waves (ie. radio and tv). While some might scoff at these laws, the fact is that most people don't mind them. Many, in fact, are glad for them, so that their children are not flooded with pornographic advertisements during cartoon time. (we'll skip over the lack of violence censors, as it's a little beyond my scope.)

    Anyways, as to the constitutionality of pornography: Last I'd known, the Supreme Court's ruling on pornograhy was that it was not covered under "Freedom of Speech." This is why laws controlling pornographic sales are constitutionally legal.

    Under those same tenates, doesn't a community (be it a small town, or a state-wide effort) have the right to determine what should be provided over publicly accessible mediums? As long as pornography is not covered under the 1st Amendment, then why shouldn't a community have the right to ensure that little Billy doesn't stumble on to some kinky German fetish site while he's playing around on his laptop while his parents are using the bathrooms at a rest stop?

    As much as people talk about the seperation of Church and State these days, it seems that many forget that our founding fathers were big fans of State vs Federal seperation. If Texas wants block pornography from public WiFi spots, fine. And, if San Francisco wants to dedicate their homepage to Gay and Lesbianism, that is their right, as well. And, it's your right to bitch about if you don't like it. That's what makes this country great.
    • by BackInIraq (862952) on Monday April 18, 2005 @06:28AM (#12267645)
      Federal, state and local governments have censors on what can and cannot be transmitted over public air-waves (ie. radio and tv).

      Usually only in _broadcast_ mediums...radio, TV, etc. WiFi is more of a point-to-point medium, such as a cellphone or cordless phone. While the transmissions could very much be monitored or intercepted by a third party, they are very much not intended to be (unlike CB, for instance, where everybody is expected to be able to hear your conversation). So yes, you can still swear on your cellphone, and you can still look at porn over WiFi. Transmission vs. broadcast.

      As long as pornography is not covered under the 1st Amendment, then why shouldn't a community have the right to ensure that little Billy doesn't stumble on to some kinky German fetish site while he's playing around on his laptop while his parents are using the bathrooms at a rest stop?

      Something I (and strangely enough, my conservative wife) feel strongly about is parents responsibility to protect their children from such things, and the governments lack of responsibliy to do it for them. You are perfectly free to protect little Billy as zealously as you want to: in your home. If little Billy just needs to use the WiFi at the truck stop (just sounds like a bad idea, no?), you STILL have options. You could install software on little Billy's computer itself to do some filtering. Or you could...you know, be a parent and monitor what the hell your child does. The world is not a sandbox, and not everything in the world is appropriate for children. You want to protect him from it, pay attention.

      Hell, in the world we live in nowadays, why the hell is any child young enough to be called "little Billy" being left alone at a truck stop anyway, especially with an expensive piece of electronics equipment? Which are you shooting for: your child getting kidnapped and raped, or just robbed?

      I remember at time when parents were expected to do parenting, not the community.

      All that said, constitutionally the state probably has the right to do this, but I definitely have the right to bitch about it. And as much as you might say this is just a reason not to move to Texas, it's getting harder and harder to find a place in this country outside the conservatives' reach...
  • by Ryan Amos (16972) on Monday April 18, 2005 @01:38AM (#12266828)
    This is a state deciding to block access on a service they provide. Normally I'm against this sort of censorship but it seems limited to the state-run wifi networks, so.. they can really do whatever they want. If you don't like it, they're not forcing you to use their service. I would hope porn would be blocked in city parks, etc. as there are many people (and children) around and honestly, if you need porn, the park/rest stop is probably not the best place anyway. They're just dictating the terms of use of their service though, and the state is free to legislate this sort of thing. In fact, it's their job.
    • I agree. This is a service offered by the State. You don't have to use it. If you do use it, you are bound by their ToS. If you don't like their ToS, don't use it. It works the same way with commercial ISPs as with state funded services. If the State were trying to regulate other service providers, I would take issue, but they are self-regulating. I don't see what the issue is here.
  • by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Monday April 18, 2005 @05:15AM (#12267511)
    They don't want truckers to use state provided bandwidth to download porn. What's wrong with that? Some people might consider the use of state funds to provide pornographic content somewhat . . . wasteful.
  • by mirio (225059) on Monday April 18, 2005 @07:38AM (#12267890)
    Could someone please post the text from the U.S. Constitution that guarantees citizens access to unfiltered Internet on public properties?

    I agree completely that filtering Internet access is a Bad Thing, but it's not unconstitutional. I'm assuming that the submitter implied that filtering Internet access on public properties would be infringing the Constitution's protection of free speech. Would the government's refusal to provide ANY Internet access constitute a violation of the Free Speech Clause? Of course not. So why would the government providing partial access to the Internet pose a question of Constitutionality?
  • Acceptable Use (Score:4, Insightful)

    by servicepack158 (678320) on Monday April 18, 2005 @08:22AM (#12268066) Homepage
    If you provide a service, you should be allowed to define acceptable use of it.

    Basically it will also prevent bandwidth waste and save money.
  • by strider_starslayer (730294) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:05AM (#12268322)
    You can still get cellphone internet, hook that up to your laptop/pda/just use the cellphone, and browse all the porn you want.

    The only thing that's being limited is the government's service of providing wifi at trucker rest spots. If the trucker wants to surf porn, he can buy a cellphone.

    Now that that's out of the way, this is a dumb idea because the implimentation will never work; truckers will surf porn with proxies so that they can get some late nigh-wanking in before they go to sleep, and children in RVs won't be able to do research projects on the breeding patterns of the praying mantis; it's how these filters allwase end up working. So, it's a useless waste of money put together to attempt to garner votes from soccer moms with needless 'were thinking of the children' responces.
    • by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis@@@gmail...com> on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:49AM (#12268659) Homepage
      The only thing that's being limited is the government's service of providing wifi at trucker rest spots. If the trucker wants to surf porn, he can buy a cellphone.

      Whoa whoa. The trucker *IS* paying for the wifi. Ever heard of taxes?

      Why should a tax funded service that is VERY LIKELY to be used by ... say people old enough TO DRIVE be filtered?

      This is another "think of the children" with a mix of "let's screw wifi".

      Children don't pay for shit [cable, net, etc] so why should it be so controlled as to not hurt their feeble little minds?

      Tom
  • by tgibbs (83782) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:25AM (#12268489)
    This sounds to me like a sneaky dodge to force the state to add expensive and trouble-prone filtering that simultaneously drive up the cost to the state and reduce the value of the service to travelers.

    What do you want to bet that the people really behind this measure are not the bluenoses, but rather telecom services that would like to undermine public WiFi so that they can offer a similar product for a fee (with no filtering, naturally).
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:54AM (#12268698) Homepage Journal
    Remember pornography is NOT covered under free speech rights, according to the supreme court.

    While *citizens* may think its unconstitutional, their opinion doesn't really matter.
  • by geoffrobinson (109879) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:52AM (#12269378) Homepage
    adult content. They are paying for it.

    Furthermore, there is a solid argument that the public square should have community standards applied to it. The 1st amendment is primarily concerned with content of speech, esp. political speech.

    Adult content doesn't really fit into that.
  • So tired (Score:3, Informative)

    by ManoMarks (574691) on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:49PM (#12270792) Journal
    Of alamist posts about proposed legislation. At least wait until a committee has approved it. Right now, it doesn't even have a name. Even if it passed, the ACLU would tie it up for years.

Some programming languages manage to absorb change, but withstand progress. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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