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ACLU to Challenge Utah Porn-Blocking Law 1002

Posted by timothy
from the solicitation-of-censorship-should-be-actionable dept.
delirium of disorder writes "Opponents of a Utah law that requires Internet service providers to offer to block Web sites deemed pornographic filed a lawsuit last Thursday to overturn the measure. The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah is seeking an injunction in federal court in Salt Lake City as part of its lawsuit claiming that the Utah law violates state residents' rights to free expression and unlawfully interferes with interstate commerce. The legislation requires the attorney general to create an official list of Web sites with material that is deemed harmful to minors. Under the law, Internet providers in Utah must provide their customers with a way to disable access to sites on the list or face felony charges."
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ACLU to Challenge Utah Porn-Blocking Law

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  • OK, now..... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:04PM (#12805086) Homepage Journal
    So, part of the problem with this is that it turns many small Internet providers into de facto censorship organizations responsible for the policing and determination of ALL content hosted through them or make them software companies due to this little inclusion in the law:

    260 (3) (a) A service provider may comply with Subsection (1) by:
    261 (i) providing network-level in-network filtering to prevent receipt of material harmful to minors;
    262 or
    263 (ii) providing at the time of a consumer's request under Subsection (1), software for{ }
    264 contemporaneous installation on the consumer's computer that blocks, in an easy-to-enable and
    265 commercially reasonable manner, receipt of material harmful to minors.


    The other major problem of course is that if the first course is taken, then Internet providers are legally *obligated* to be searching your computers or files for content in violation of federal law.

    Of course this also begs the question of who determines "adult content" which should make one suspicious of motives as this law comes from a state that had a state appointed "porn czar" who was a self avowed virgin. Also, at one of the major Universities in the state, BYU felt that censorship of sculptures by Auguste Rodin was appropriate for the national tour a couple of years ago. Did they consider that "adult content"? What would they think of Internet sites covering sculptures of Michelangelo's David?

    The other seriously maddening thing about this is that the little independent book shop just around the corner from me, The Kings English book shop would not be able to put any books on their website other than childrens books.

    • Re:OK, now..... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by eht (8912) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:07PM (#12805120)
      They are only legally obligated is asked to do so by the customer, this is completely opt-in.

      Unless there is something I'm missing, this is just like the V-chip, parents have control over whether it gets turned on or off, not the government, not the ISP.
    • Re:OK, now..... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by swilde23 (874551) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:10PM (#12805152) Journal
      Also, at one of the major Universities in the state, BYU

      If BYU was a publicly run University, then this would be relevant. Why does what a private university considers to be "adult content" even relevant in this discussion?

      • Re:OK, now..... (Score:4, Informative)

        by kryonD (163018) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:37PM (#12805482) Homepage Journal
        Well, since most folks don't understand how Utah works, here goes....

        Utah can best be described as a Democratic Theocracy. This is not to say anything negative about the LDS church or indicate corruption in the government. It is simply a product of being a state where over 80% of the voting population are devout members of the church to one degree or another. While this is changing slightly with the heavy influx of population from California and Arizona, the current voting population will side with most, if not all legislation that is endorsed by the church leadership. Some would argue that this is a dangerous blurring between church and state but democracy by definition is a representative government and the majority of the citizens support laws that are in agreement with their beleifs and lifestyles. The fact that those beliefs and lifestyles are largely driven by church beleifs is irrelevant. Similar restrictive laws exist regarding alcohol and same-sex relationships. The reason why BYU is even referenced is because it is the Notre Dame of the LDS world. If you are looking for a degree in theology that specializes in the Mormon (LDS) beleifs, this is where you go.

        Anyways, I think the ACLU has a valid argument. However, they are up against a very steep wall of not being able to find a majority voice to contend with Utah's propensity to legislate their moral values.

        • by PyWiz (865118)
          However, they are up against a very steep wall of not being able to find a majority voice to contend with Utah's propensity to legislate their moral values

          It doesn't matter if the ACLU does not find a majority voice, they're using the court system to contest the law. They only need a handful of justices to defeat Utah's propensity to legislate their moral values.
    • Re:OK, now..... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CharlieHedlin (102121) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:11PM (#12805159)
      While I agree that this is a terrible law, did you even read the slashdot summary?

      The AG's office is producing a list of sites that have to be blocked. This is easy to do on the network layer and doesn't require searching the customers computers. It doesn't require the ISP or another company to determine what to censor, the list is maintained by the AG's office, part of the state government.
    • Porn sites can be classified in the following:

      * Link sites. Youknow, those with lots of links to pics / movie samples
      * The ones with pics / movie samples (usually they're hidden pages inside paysites - but sometimes they're hosted by the same company)
      * paysites or AVS
      * And in the future: websites with .xxx domains.

      A little analysis could be made to detect these easily. Anyway, it's not fair to dismiss a law because it can't be implemented yet (remember the "who needs 4-cores, anyway" discussion?). One thi
      • How're parents supposed to watch over their child if they're denied the tools needed for it?

        Here's an idea: use the computer together??? What a revelation!

        Alas, it's lazy-assed parents who lack the time to spend with their kids who are the problem... The Internet isn't there as an entertainer.

        IMO, I'm going to whitelist shit my kid needs to do his/her homework: Wikipedia, Dictionary, Google maps, etc... Perhaps some kids game sites. If they need more for a project, I sit down to help them. They
    • Re:OK, now..... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DigitalRaptor (815681)
      Make sure you are wearing an appropriate brace [google.com] when having such a knee-jerk reaction. We wouldn't want you to hurt yourself.

      They aren't obligated or even permitted to search your computer or your files. If you ask them to you are required to either offer network level filtering of traffic, or provide software to do the filtering.

      I don't see anywhere that this software has to be free or paid for by the ISP. It simply means the ISP must provide some way for parents to be given control over what is viewed
    • Re:OK, now..... (Score:3, Informative)

      by RealAlaskan (576404)
      So, part of the problem with this is that it turns many small Internet providers into de facto censorship organizations responsible for the policing and determination of ALL content hosted through them or make them software companies due to this little inclusion in the law:

      So, what article did you read? Right ... this is Slashdot, you didn't read no steenk'n article.

      The summary says that Utah ISPs must offer to customers a way to prevent access to a list of websites provided by the state AG. That has

    • Re:OK, now..... (Score:4, Informative)

      by cvd6262 (180823) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:36PM (#12805472)
      Also, at one of the major Universities in the state, BYU felt that censorship of sculptures by Auguste Rodin was appropriate for the national tour a couple of years ago.

      As one who graduated from the BYU French department back then, I should point out that this was a business decision by the Museum of Art at BYU, not by the administration (who chose to let the MOA control their own world), and without advisement from the Humanities department. The MOA's main audience is elementary school children on field trips, and they felt they would face opposition from parents if they showed the statue.

      The work in question is one of my favorites, and I, and every factuly member of the department to whom I spoke, were very offended by this. We took the necessary steps to get le baiser shown, and alerted the media when it was not.

      Your insinuations that the school banned the work are incorrect.

      What scares me more about this is that the governor from the time when the law was passed is no the head of the EPA.

      ps - don't you mean "the major University in the state"? ;p
  • by geomon (78680) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:04PM (#12805090) Homepage Journal
    This gives more ammunition to the rabid right in their attempt to make the ACLU the bogeyman for everything "evil" in this world. Of course the rightwing nutjobs forget that the ACLU has also defended Ollie North and Rush Limbaugh. I guess ingrates have short memories.

    The target of this legislation also dooms it to failure. Business interests are not going to stand by and allow the Utah legislature make common carrier status a criminal offense. If that were allowed to stand then the phone company would be criminally negligent for obscene phone calls made on their lines.

    Never let it be said that the Utah legistlature had real brain power. After all, the state produced Orrin Hatch!
    • by fishbowl (7759) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:08PM (#12805139)

      >This gives more ammunition to the rabid right in
      >their attempt to make the ACLU the bogeyman for
      >everything "evil" in this world.

      The problem with the ACLU is that they stand out as one of the very few high profile organizations that do what they do, as opposed to being among so many others that they risk being lost in the noise.

      FSF has a similar problem.
    • Thank you so FUCKING much for saying whay I wanted to say to people who slammed the ACLU here on /.!!!!!!!!!!!

      They are here to protect ALL of our civil rights.

      And for those of us Gun lovers who want to criticize the ACLU, let me just say this: with limited resources, the best to fight is to divide the battle field. ACLU has everthing but Ammendment #2 and the NRA takes care of #2. That's the way I see it.

      • They are here to protect ALL of our civil rights.

        I think a lot of people have become disenthralled with the ACLU ever since they seem to have adopted "freedom from religion" as a civil right. This is beyond historical precedent and rather controversial. Also, for some reason, they seem loathe to defend free speech against administrative punishments and civil litigation.

        • by MisanthropicProgram (763655) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:26PM (#12805340)
          I disagree everything you said except this:

          Also, for some reason, they seem loathe to defend free speech against administrative punishments and civil litigation.

          I don't understand. And before you flame me for being stupid, try to educate me. And if I still disagree, please feel free to flame away!

          • by amliebsch (724858) on Monday June 13, 2005 @03:10PM (#12805870) Journal
            I don't understand. And before you flame me for being stupid, try to educate me. And if I still disagree, please feel free to flame away!

            What I am referring to are noncriminal, nonjudicial punishments for free speech, like employees being fired or students being expelled from universities for violating campus speech codes, and civil lawsuits, usually involving harassment or workplace discrimination, which attach legal penalties to what ought to be protected speech. The university speech code issue particularly rankles me, but organizations like FIRE have stepped in to pick up the slack. (It also rankles me that the ACLU refuses to recognize the plain meaning of the Second Amendment, but the post I originally replied to acknowledged this, so I'll digress.)

            As to you and the others who responded with vociferous disagreement, I want to make clear that I am not attacking the ACLU for standing up for an individual's right to freely exercise any religion or not, nor for standing against any state compulsion of religion. What I am referring to is the ACLU adopting the position that individuals ought to be protected from seeing or hearing anything related to religion coming from the state whatsoever, and more to the point, that the government must uniquely discriminate against religious entities for the provision of social service funds or grants. In particular, I thought the lawsuit against the BSA was unnecessary and counterproductive.

            P.S.: I'm an agnostic.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          To have freedom of religion, you need freedom from religion. If you aren't free from religion, doesn't that mean you're having a religion forced on you?
        • I don't seem to recall there being a law anywhere requiring that anyone in the US follow any religion, and the Bill of Rights does include "Freedom of religion".

          Now, if they can't force you to follow a particular religion, and there is no law requiring you to worship a religion, that seems to be something left for a person to decide which, if any, religion they're going to follow, doesn't it?

          I really have no care for historical precedent in matters of the faith. Faith is just that- faith. Any government
        • by Skye16 (685048) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:42PM (#12805552)
          So...wait. Are you really trying to say I don't have the right to be free from religion?

          Now, notice I said "I", as in "Myself, the individual" and not "We".

          Keeping your religion out of my personal life insofar that I don't have to participate in any of your reindeer games without fear of government reprisal is absolutely necessary, just as keeping my lack of religion out of your personal life is necessary. All I want is for me to live my life without having to worry about dealing with your particular brand of religious dogma in a governmentally sanctioned manner. If you want to show up at my door with a Bible or a Koran and bang on it for a while, extolling the supposed virtues of your particular faith, then so be it. But trying to make me into a defacto Christian by passing Bible-based laws that have no logical backing is where I draw the line.

          (I should note that most of these yous are of the general variety, not of the specific. I do not deign to know your particular belief set and I don't know that it necessarily matters one way or the other. I'm just telling you how I feel about those who want to trespass into my life for no other reason than they can't stand the thought of people holding to different beliefs than themselves. As if universal "belief" is indicitive of how "right" someone's faith is. But I'll stop ranting and take the -6000 flamebait modifiers now.)
          • by nametaken (610866) on Monday June 13, 2005 @03:09PM (#12805855)

            This is exactly what the ACLU wants you to say in response to this. Unfortunatly this scenario has nothing to do with religious freedom.

            In fact, all this legislation does is gaurantee an option for consumers. The ACLU is going to try to have it stuck down.

            The worst part is, we'd normally think legislation that provides consumers with options is great. In this case, however, we all want to believe that the ACLU is doing the right thing (they are, after all, properly aligned with /. ethics in other cases)... so people will try desperately to justify this.

            The hard truth is that the ACLU is spending our Anti-Patriot Act (etc) dollars to strike down legislation that promises options to consumers, that is all.

          • Freedom from religion is what is going on in France, and it directly impacts freedom of religion. For instance, you have laws prohibiting muslims from wearing head-scarfs, jews wearing yamulkas, and Christians wearing large crosses in public schools. Mind you, these are students, not teachers.

            The ACLU isn't going that far, and I respect them enough to believe that they won't. They are starting to be aggressive enough with the seperation of church and state that they are inching towards freedom from religio
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Using the word "disenthralled" suggests that everyone else whose opinions coincide with the ACLU is "enthralled."

          In other words, you're using the same type of false negation that fundamentalists use to claim that "lack of belief in the Christian God is equal to belief in the lack of a Christian God." This is the kind of wordplay that means nothing but tricks those who argue with emotion rather than logic.

          "Freedom from religion" is not what the ACLU supports. The ACLU supports freedom from state-funded a
    • by BungoMan85 (681447) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:13PM (#12805197) Homepage
      As a member of the "rabid right" I'm glad the ACLU is stepping up on this one. I fail to see how this gives those of us on the right any ammunition against them. I would question anyone who claims to be a conservative who supports legislation of this sort. There is nothing right wing about it. A real conservative would think that government should stay out of this sort of thing and that forcing ISPs to restrict content is absurd.
      • A real conservative would think that government should stay out of this sort of thing and that forcing ISPs to restrict content is absurd.

        Libertarians UNITE!

        The 'rabid right' I refer to is the group that advocates expanded government control of private behavior. If that isn't you, then I don't consider you a rabid rightist.
        • The 'rabid right' I refer to is the group that advocates expanded government control of private behavior. If that isn't you, then I don't consider you a rabid rightist.

          I consider a lot of what the democrats to do too fall under control of private behavior. Can't smoke, can't cut down a whole lot of trees on land I own. Couple of other things in there as well. Not sayin the right doesn't do it, just saying the left does it as well.
  • by Infinityis (807294) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:07PM (#12805124) Homepage
    Who needs porn when you're allocated 10 wives?
    • by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:29PM (#12805379) Homepage Journal
      To the un-initiated it may seem counter-intuitive, but the amount of sex a man has is generally inversely proportionate to the number of wives he has. If you don't belive me, get married.

      You might also want to note that "polygamous or plural marriages" are expressly forbidden by the Utah state constitution.

      -Peter
    • by RealAlaskan (576404) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:38PM (#12805492) Homepage Journal
      Who needs porn when you're allocated 10 wives?

      Have you seen their wives?

      • by infinite9 (319274) on Monday June 13, 2005 @03:47PM (#12806326)
        Have you seen their wives?

        I'm now an IT consultant with 15 years of experience. I have a bachelors degree degree in computer science. And live in a nice house. Little do most people realize that my parents were bikers. My uncle (also a biker) came to our house to visit once when I was only 12. I was having a discussion with my mother and uncle about how annoyed I was by my social situation at the time. There was a girl who I was attracted to, but she didn't want to have anything to do with me. And there was this other girl who was attracted to me, but I wasn't very interested in her because she wasn't very attractive. My uncle offered up some words on advice. At the time, I didn't understand his words. But in the fullness of time, I've come to appreciate and even revere the words he spoke to me on that day. He said in a deep, gravely biker voice,

        "Well you know, Brian, even ugly girls have pussies."

        My mother was irate. And I was be bewildered. For many young men have longed for the companionship of a pretty girl, and spurned the advances of one more homely. So here is wisdom: if you ever find yourself in this situation, remember the words of my biker uncle. For what good is a pretty girl if she cannot also cook, clean, be a good mother, hold a conversation, and give you a religeous experience in bed? That is all I have to say.
    • by winse (39597) on Monday June 13, 2005 @03:08PM (#12805847) Homepage Journal
      That reminded me of something I read once:

      Our stay in Salt Lake City amounted to only two days, and therefore we had no time to make the customary inquisition into the workings of polygamy and get up the usual statistics and deductions preparatory to calling the attention of the nation at large once more to the matter. I had the will to do it. With the gushing self-sufficiency of youth I was feverish to plunge in headlong and achieve a great reform here - until I saw the Mormon women. Then I was touched. My heart was wiser than my head. It warmed toward these poor, ungainly and pathetically "homely" creatures, and as I turned to hide the generous moisture in my eyes, I said, "No - the man that marries one of them has done an act of Christian charity which entitles him to the kindly applause of mankind, not their harsh censure - and the man that marries sixty of them has done a deed of open-handed generosity so sublime that the nations should stand uncovered in his presence and worship in silence." Mark Twain
  • by arkham6 (24514) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:07PM (#12805125)
    This is yet another example of a 'feelgood' law, that conservative lawmakers pass to appeal to their base, and to be able to see "See, I am fighting immorality!"

    Yet the law is 100 percent ineffective. First of all, there is no way they can ever block every single source of smut on the internet. Seconmd of all, its an opt in system. You choose to have these sites blocked, the ISP isnt blocking them for you. parents can do this already with a number of 'childware' packages already out there.

    So really, what is the law good for? Nothing, except appealing to the base.

    What good is the ACLU challenge? None either, except making them selves look more like 'champions of pron' to the conservative members of this country.

    Its all a bunch of chest thumping.
    • by Temsi (452609) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:30PM (#12805393) Journal
      What good is the ACLU challenge?

      It is to protect the 1st Amendment from abuse of power by the legislature - which is exactly what the 1st Amendment was designed to do in the first place. The challenge is the function of the ACLU. That's what it does.

      The 1st Amendment wasn't about porn, it was about political speech. The founding fathers didn't want a system where the ruling majority could deem something illegal just because it expressed a political viewpoint counter to their own (remind you of someone? the current majority accuses anyone they disagree with of being soft on terrorism and in some cases an outright traitor).

      Protecting porn and other expressions of humanity deemed 'indecent' by the ruling majority, are simply a byproduct of the 1st Amendment.
      The ACLU fights to protect ALL civil liberties, including the 1st Amendment - so, that would include porn.
      I for one am glad they do, and they'll be getting a check from me this year.
      • The ACLU fights to protect ALL civil liberties, including the 1st Amendment

        Umm, no. The ACLU is specifically interested in the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments.

        They're not all that interested in the Ninth and Tenth.

        They don't like the Second at all.

        And, like everyone else, they don't even remember what the Third Amendment is (so far as I know, it's never been invoked for any purpose).

    • by Maestro4k (707634) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:34PM (#12805445) Journal
      Yet the law is 100 percent ineffective. First of all, there is no way they can ever block every single source of smut on the internet. Seconmd of all, its an opt in system. You choose to have these sites blocked, the ISP isnt blocking them for you. parents can do this already with a number of 'childware' packages already out there.

      So really, what is the law good for? Nothing, except appealing to the base.

      It'll be effective at something, just not it's stated intentions. It'll cause repercussions that aren't thought of.

      I just found out first hand how these laws can cause trouble. I set up a forum, one mostly about anime and manga. Now there is quite a vast age range of anime and manga fans, so it's not unlikely I'll end up with users under 13 as well as those above 13. 13's the magic age in COPPA, an act designed to protect children from having information gathered on them. I used PhpBB which has built-in COPPA handling, and went to research what I had to do on my end to allow those under 13 to use the site and be COPPA compliant.

      Well that didn't last long, I'd have to provide a physical address, phone number, fax number, etc. for parents to send in COPPA documents for their children. All this and all the info I'd be gathering is their E-mail address (used for registration confirmation). I don't even require a real name, just the nickname they want to use.

      So what was the result of this law to protect children in my case? They're banned. If they chose the link "I'm under 13 and want to register" they get a polite message telling them they can't sign up and are redirected to disney.com. I guess you could argue they're protected, after all they can't participate in the forum, but all it's really going to do is cause the kids to try again later and lie about their age. That's assuming they tell the truth in the first place.

      Maybe it appeals to their base, but all it's really good for is causing problems for others, and rarely if ever actually helps the problem it's supposedly solving.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:08PM (#12805128)
    I bet there is a lot of girl on girl on girl on girl on guy action
  • Easy to implement! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spectrokid (660550) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:09PM (#12805140) Homepage
    Easy for US ISP's to implement: just ask your friends in Saudi Arabia how they did it!
  • by geek_xyu (814278) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:09PM (#12805147)
    First China now Utah.. Yea I guess that sounds about right.
  • by RetroGeek (206522) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:09PM (#12805148) Homepage
    So how does this substantially differ from Microsoft filtering certain words and phrases in China? [theregister.co.uk]

    If I want to block Internet content from my children, this is my right (until they reach the age of majority of course). The same way I can block TV shows. This is MY responsibility and right, not some government appointed watch dog.
  • I'm sympathetic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SamSeaborn (724276) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:10PM (#12805149)
    I'll probably get flammed to death for this, but I'm very sympathetic to groups that think 'net porn it too accessible and goes too far.

    Sometimes I think kids are going to grow up completely messed us with the crazy stuff they can see on the web just by typing "sex" in google.

    Is forcing ISPs to block that kind of content going to solve the problem? Probably not, but I feel for them.

    Personally, I'd like to see a law that makes it illegal for adult context to appear on a URL unless is has a special extension, something like ".xxx". Then it'd be easy for concerned parents (and wives!) to configure the browser to block anything from that extension.

    Sam

    • Re:I'm sympathetic (Score:3, Insightful)

      by suresk (816773)
      It would be easier if all porn was on an .xxx domain. However - How does one define 'porn' or adult content? Who decides what goes on a .xxx domain and what is fine on a .com?

      What if I don't want my kids seeing religious crap and getting wrapped up in fake religions? Can I propose a .god domain? What about people who are offended by Profanity, Marxism, or clowns?

      Pretty soon, your average ISP costs $65,000 per month and is slower than hell because of all the filtering to make sure you don't accidently see
    • Re:I'm sympathetic (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Skynyrd (25155) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:16PM (#12805233) Homepage
      Personally, I'd like to see a law that makes it illegal for adult context to appear on a URL unless is has a special extension, something like ".xxx".

      Who decides what defines "adult content". Pictures of people smoking? Women in bras (I can see that in the newspaper).

      You choose to have kids; you be their moral guide.

      If your kids can't surf the net without finding porn, don't let them surf the net without supervision. Or just don't have kids.

      I don't want your standards imposed on my kids, as they may be to strict or too open for my tastes.
      • Re:I'm sympathetic (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:42PM (#12805555) Homepage Journal
        "I don't want your standards imposed on my kids, as they may be to strict or too open for my tastes."
        Ahh but that is the key here. The filtering is OPTIONAL.
        You do not have to turn it on.
        So you can turn it off or replace it with another filtering software. The law just requires the ISPs to OFFER the service. So in effect if you feel that offering the service is wrong then you are trying have your standards imposed on other people. The very thing you feel is wrong.
      • Morm^Hons (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gosand (234100)
        You choose to have kids; you be their moral guide.

        We are talking about Mormons. God chooses for them to have kids, and God is their moral guide. Stop pretending that these people have a choice.

      • Re:I'm sympathetic (Score:3, Insightful)

        by stlhawkeye (868951)
        If your kids can't surf the net without finding porn, don't let them surf the net without supervision. Or just don't have kids. I don't want your standards imposed on my kids, as they may be to strict or too open for my tastes.

        Amen. As a conservative, I believe in a limited government whose primary role is to preserve my individual liberties, not eliminate them. YOU can enact whatever restrictions YOU want in YOUR home for YOUR family. But don't you dare pass a law that makes it mandatory that I subsc

    • by memfrob (157990) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:19PM (#12805262) Homepage
      Personally, I'd like to see a law that makes it illegal for adult context to appear on a URL unless is has a special extension, something like ".xxx". Then it'd be easy for concerned parents (and wives!) to configure the browser to block anything from that extension.

      What about IP-based URLs?

      (http://127.0.0.1/ [127.0.0.1] is FULL of pornography!)

    • Re:I'm sympathetic (Score:3, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573) *
      Sometimes I think kids are going to grow up completely messed us with the crazy stuff they can see on the web just by typing "sex" in google.

      I know that kids are going to grow up completely messed up with the crazy stuff that they don't see on the web just because their parents wanted to "protect" them from all the "harmful" stuff out there.

      Sorry, but sex isn't harmful. Keeping your kids in the dark is.

      Let the parents keep the kids "protected" if they really feel that's what's best. Let's keep the gov
    • Re:I'm sympathetic (Score:3, Insightful)

      by m50d (797211)
      The only thing the internet connects you to is other people. It's not some great big thing out there, it is at its heart a network of ends. The only things you see are things some other person shows you. By it's very nature it can't be dehumanising, because everything you see is made by another human. We haven't seen a big spurt of problems since the internet was introduced, nor will we. The internet may make it a bit more open what people are really like, but that's only a good thing, this victorian denial
  • by Amouth (879122) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:12PM (#12805170)
    if the idea is to keep minnors away from adult material .. i am wondering why the government or companies are doing the job of parents.. if you let your child out of the net and don't follow what they are doing it is your own damn fault and you are the one to be held liable.. same thing as if your 10 year old is ... never mind this argument always falls on def ears.. parents need to know what their damn job is and not blame the world.. take some responsiblity
  • by Jherek Carnelian (831679) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:12PM (#12805185)
    Under the law, Internet providers in Utah must provide their customers with a way to disable access to sites on the list or face felony charges."

    I suggest that all Utah ISP's implement this with feature with a link from their home page "Click here to disable access to pornographic web sites" that leads directly to the ISP's account termination page.
  • How? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mad Ogre (564694) <ogre @ m a d o g r e .com> on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:13PM (#12805195) Homepage
    How can it be a violation if it is an optional service offered to those who want it?
  • by loose_cannon_gamer (857933) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:14PM (#12805214)

    I grew up in Salt Lake City, and am (as you may have guessed) not a big fan of pornography. But at the same time, there's a right way to solve this, and a wrong way to solve this.

    Legislating that ISPs have the responsibility to provide ways to block a list of offensive websites is a good idea and a bad implementation. That kind of censorship belongs on the consumer, not on the ISP. We might as well expect handgun realtors to provide a list of movies that children shouldn't watch to keep them from becoming violent. Sure, it's something to do about the problem, but it is the wrong thing.

    I think the availability to minors of pornography is a huge problem, but there is (or at least there was) a real industry building up out of censorship tools for the internet, which provide the kind of services that this law was supposed to enforce anyway.

    So I fail to see the need for such odd legislation. The right of censorship in the home has always been protected as a right of the individual, excepting those 'expressions' which have been defined by society has harmful enough to legislate against (i.e. kiddie porn). But within the bounds of what society has legislated to be acceptable, the right to refuse or accept media still belongs to the end user.

    And please, if the problem is that you're trying to protect your children, please notice that it is *your* responsibility to look after and protect your children. Don't leave something so important to anybody else.

  • Use a hosts file (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HermanAB (661181) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:15PM (#12805215)
    What is the big deal? Just compile the official list into a hosts file with all addresses set to 127.0.0.1 and make it available on your web site for download. That is about 30 minutes of work and then you comply with the damn law and can get on with your business. It isn't worth arguing about this crap.
  • Overturn it? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by coop0030 (263345) * on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:16PM (#12805231) Homepage
    Even if they do get this one overturned the crazy politicians will come out with another stupid law that will have to be overturned.

    It is an endless cycle of incompetence.
  • by jellomizer (103300) * on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:18PM (#12805254)
    Sure there are many spots where the line is clear, but there is a big gray area too.

    First case nudity? How much nudity does it consist to be pornography. Some culture would say a woman showing her face would be pronographic, while other cultures say it is not the nudity but their positions, that consitutes pornography. If you come up with any rule on what pornography is I am sure you can find an example that uses that rule and is not pornograph or you will find that this rule will not cover all of pornography. So if we as humans cannot make the difference all the time then how the heck are we sopose to get computers to do it for us?
  • by helix400 (558178) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:21PM (#12805287) Journal
    The ACLU's argument against this law fails to mention that filtering can only be done on request of the customer.

    Now why would the ACLU leave out that most important detail?
    • Well if you actually read the article the ACLU is suing on behalf of content providers and not content users. And the content providers do not have choice of whether or not to be on the list. They can be put on the list by the AG and have no way to challenge that. This is the main issue which the ACLU complains about and the fact that the users have a choice whether or not to block is not that material to this issue.

      Also note that the ACLU article has helpful links to in-depth discussion of the law and the
  • So yeah I have already seen about 6 posts looking something like, "those crazy right wing nut jobs want to stop the righteous and omniscient ACLU from protecting my civil liberties!" Seems to be the trend on /. recently, which makes it less interesting for me to read.

    However, despite whether you may think this is a left vs right issue or whatever, I find it highly disturbing that the more liberal groups continue their attempts to strip the rights of states to have their own laws, especially in a representative government.

    The problem I really have here is that while all you pro-ACLU people continue to scream about the ACLU protecting my right to free speech, it seems that the ACLU is restricting the right of the people of Utah (in this case) to elect a government which is representative of their ideals and beliefs.

    Remember, our representatives are put into their positions in order to act on our behalf. Who is to say the people of Utah do not want this law? Maybe they do. If they do not, they could elect individuals who would overturn said law.

    Now I don't necessarily agree with this law and I don't necessarily dislike the ACLU, but this rabid attack on how the "right" is bad and the "left" is good is really starting to get simply immature and sickening.
    • The ACLU doesn't restrict what state governments can leglislate, the U.S. Constitution does. The argument is that forcing a company to make censorship available is a tacit endorsement of censorship by that government. So is that unconstitutional or not? The ACLU certainly thinks so, but that doesn't make them right.

      (As an aside, I realize that it's a bit pointless to argue that we should even consider what the Constitution says in a country where the Patriot Act can exist.)

  • Companies' Rights (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aduzik (705453) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:32PM (#12805414) Homepage

    From what I've gathered, the ACLU's objection is, of course, motivated by the fact that they reject censorship in any form. But the argument is legitimate.

    Their argument is that the state is requiring ISP's to provide a particular service whether they like it or not. They are dictating how ISP's are "permitted" to do business, asserting that they need the state's blessing to run that particular type of business. I guess what really gets me is the government's attitude that ISP's are allowed to do business by the grace and goodwill of the government, not because it's one of the founding principles of this nation.

    It's like if you ran a restaurant, and the government came along and said, "I see you serve cheeseburgers. Some people don't like to eat meat, and most people agree that eating cheeseburgers all the time is downright harmful. You'd better start serving some healthy vegetarian entrees or we'll close you down."

    If the state of Utah still insists on making porn-blocking more widely available, the better approach would have been to make money available to the ISP's in the form of tax breaks or low-interest loans to encourage them to offer porn-blocking services to their customers. I'd still object on the grounds that the government is promoting censorship, but at least they wouldn't be forcing ISP's to do it at gunpoint like they are now.

    The most daming question, though, is this: who gets to determine what constitutes a naughty web site? For some, a place like /. would be considered pretty taboo because people use bad language here. Any form of censorship necessarily imposes some person's view of morality on others.

  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:52PM (#12805680)
    Once upon a time not too many decades ago the U.S. Government attempted to impose price controls on meat to combat perceived gouging. Cuts of meat were all itemized, and maximum prices allowed for each determined.

    What did the butchers do? They created new cuts of meat with new names that weren't on the price-controlled list. In short, they worked around the problem faster than the government could respond.

    Gun manufacturers did similar things when so-called (so-called, because they're not really) "Assault Rifles" were banned by manufacture and model. Make a cosmetic change and slap on a new model number.

    How can this be applicable here? The Utah AG is going ban sites by name. How fast can he update the list? How fast can he distribute it? Answer: not fast enough!

    Consider this example of a workaround. A page with absolutely no infringing content that can't be legally banned. On it a link stating "Utah residents click here to access our site". Link changes daily -- even hourly. How do you put the target site on a ban list and distribute it fast enough? Won't happen.

    This law is a feel good farce that won't stop anyone with an ounce of inventiveness on the web. End of comment.

  • This is trivial (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SirLanse (625210) <`swwg69' `at' `yahoo.com'> on Monday June 13, 2005 @03:45PM (#12806307)
    They can give the M$ uses a hosts file with the AG's list in it. Bam! those sites do not come up. This is only at the CUSTOMER'S request. It does not remove Pr0n from those who want it. The ACLU is showing how far into hell they are going looking for clients.
  • by Edmund Blackadder (559735) on Monday June 13, 2005 @03:52PM (#12806371)
    This is a link of the final text of the bill as signed into law (I assume that is wghat "enrolled copy" means):

    http://www.le.state.ut.us/~2005/bills/hbillenr/hb0 260.pdf [state.ut.us]

    The link provided by slashdot is an intermediate version that was still being amended.

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