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Censorship Government The Internet United States News

After Columbine, Eric Holder Advocated Internet "Restrictions" 430

Posted by timothy
from the but-that-was-then-and-this-is-now dept.
ErikTheRed writes "In an audio clip discovered by NewsBusters, then-Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder advocated federal censorship of the Internet. This was in the aftermath of the Columbine High School shootings. From the clip: 'The court has really struck down every government effort to try to regulate it. We tried with regard to pornography. It is gonna be a difficult thing, but it seems to me that if we can come up with reasonable restrictions, reasonable regulations in how people interact on the Internet, that is something that the Supreme Court and the courts ought to favorably look at.'" Holder is reported to be Barack Obama's choice for Attorney General of the United States.
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After Columbine, Eric Holder Advocated Internet "Restrictions"

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  • by ravenspear (756059) on Friday November 21, 2008 @05:40PM (#25852307)
    Even if this dude is appointed, he can't unilaterally make law that will censor anything. And even if he pushes for that, the SCOTUS has been heavily against any censorship of the internet for many years, so I would hope they would strike down any such efforts.
  • by XLawyer (68496) * on Friday November 21, 2008 @05:52PM (#25852477) Homepage

    Doubtless the point will be made that NewsBusters is a strongly partisan site, and this is true. Fortunately, though, they aren't asking anyone to take their word for it, instead posting a recording of Holder himself.

    While the Bush administration has certainly been no friend of free speech, I am not sure why anyone thinks that Democratic politicians and administrations have been better. For example, when Janet Reno was AG under Clinton, she warned the TV networks to clean up their shows, or the government would do it for them. Influential voices on the left call (unsuccessfully for the most part, it must be recognized) for censorship of various things on various grounds.

    The point here is not that one party is great and the other is terrible, but that neither major party is committed in principle to individual freedom, including freedom of expression. Believing otherwise is a dangerous but widespread error.

  • Libertarian legal scholar Eugene Volokh has posted a discussion [volokh.com] of this in which he concludes that what Holder advocated was actually a very narrow restriction on helping people build bombs.

  • by PeeAitchPee (712652) on Friday November 21, 2008 @06:02PM (#25852633)

    biden... ...daschle... ...clinton... ...holder... can someone fill in the gaps? i am too lazy.

    You forgot Rahm Emanuel. These appointments are laughable and downright hypocritical coming from someone who railed against Washington during his entire campaign.

  • Re:What? (Score:4, Informative)

    by mooingyak (720677) on Friday November 21, 2008 @06:04PM (#25852671)

    Those aren't even censorship.

    You're not being forbidden from saying anything, you're simply being held responsible for your actions.

  • by sumdumass (711423) on Friday November 21, 2008 @06:06PM (#25852687) Journal

    The AG's office also creates legislation to be presented to the congress, that's where the patriot act and many other bills came from, they check over the president's purposed legislation for legalities like constitutionality and they give validation to policies.

    The AG isn't some office drone who does only what he is told to do. He is like the head of the legal department at a large company and plays a large role in steering their actions.

  • by kenobi_wan_obi (586333) on Friday November 21, 2008 @06:11PM (#25852747)
    Actually, the restrictions Holder had in mind were mostly passed into law four months after he gave that interview. See 18 USC Â 842(p):

    (2) Prohibition. - It shall be unlawful for any person -
    (A) to teach or demonstrate the making or use of an explosive, a destructive device, or a weapon of mass destruction, or to distribute by any means information pertaining to, in whole or in part, the manufacture or use of an explosive, destructive device, or weapon of mass destruction, with the intent that the teaching, demonstration, or information be used for, or in furtherance of, an activity that constitutes a Federal crime of violence; or
    (B) to teach or demonstrate to any person the making or use of an explosive, a destructive device, or a weapon of mass destruction, or to distribute to any person, by any means, information pertaining to, in whole or in part, the manufacture or use of an explosive, destructive device, or weapon of mass destruction, knowing that such person intends to use the teaching, demonstration, or information for, or in furtherance of, an activity that constitutes a Federal crime of violence.
  • Re:This is sickening (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 21, 2008 @06:16PM (#25852831)

    Hey retard, the brownshirts were leftist. NAZI -> National Socialist

    And North Korea is a democracy, says so right in their name.

    More lies brought to you by people who label anything they don't like as "leftist".

  • Re:Of course (Score:5, Informative)

    by conlaw (983784) on Friday November 21, 2008 @06:19PM (#25852877)
    Okay folks, you're bringing up some very good points about the new administration in general and Mr. Holder in particular. But don't just leave those ideas here for other /.'ers to discuss. Send your thoughts here: http://www.change.gov/page/s/ofthepeople [change.gov]

    Obama and Biden say that they are listening, so tell them how you feel about curtailing our rights and freedoms in the name of protecting the country.

  • OUT OF CONTEXT (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 21, 2008 @06:45PM (#25853193)

    Almost any thought is inappropriate in the context of something else.

    Funny you mention context...

    The linked audio clip is very clearly Holder answering a question -- and the question has been edited out. The context is much narrower than it's been edited to make you believe. Holder is answering a question about distributing instructions for making a bomb. And he is probably referring specifically to a bill that was then under consideration -- a bill (now a law) that makes it illegal to teach someone how to make a bomb when you know they are going to use it for criminal purposes [volokh.com]. Maybe still problematic in some eyes -- but much, much narrower than the "omg he's going to outlaw teh internets" interpretation it's been edited down to give.

  • Re:Of course (Score:4, Informative)

    by Xiroth (917768) on Friday November 21, 2008 @08:40PM (#25854301)

    Speaking of, from their transition site [change.gov]:

    • Protect the Openness of the Internet: Support the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet.
    • Encourage Diversity in Media Ownership: Encourage diversity in the ownership of broadcast media, promote the development of new media outlets for expression of diverse viewpoints, and clarify the public interest obligations of broadcasters who occupy the nation's spectrum.
    • Protect Our Children While Preserving the First Amendment: Give parents the tools and information they need to control what their children see on television and the Internet in ways fully consistent with the First Amendment. Support tough penalties, increase enforcement resources and forensic tools for law enforcement, and encourage collaboration between law enforcement and the private sector to identify and prosecute people who try to exploit children online.
    • Safeguard our Right to Privacy: Strengthen privacy protections for the digital age and harness the power of technology to hold government and business accountable for violations of personal privacy.

    Mostly seems reasonable to me, although the third is a little worryingly vague on the 'increased enforcement resources' and 'collaboration between law enforcement and the private sector' (is this code for wiretapping?). I guess we'll just have to see how it goes.

  • Re:oblig (Score:3, Informative)

    by spazdor (902907) on Friday November 21, 2008 @08:47PM (#25854335)

    With a lengthy court case [wikipedia.org], obviously.

  • by Logic and Reason (952833) on Friday November 21, 2008 @08:52PM (#25854369) Homepage

    ...why the largest slaughters of humans have been in the names of religious deities.

    Not according to this [erols.com].

  • by ravenshrike (808508) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @11:20AM (#25858081)
    Positive rights aren't. Which is to say, you have no right TO anything. Rights exist to keep the GOVERNMENT from doing things. Laws exist to keep PEOPLE from doing things. Rights trump laws. Must in order to keep a free society.

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