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Censorship Government The Courts

Massachusetts Bids To Restrict Internet Indecency 214

Posted by kdawson
from the tired-old-road dept.
Remember the Communications Decency Act? Enacted 1996, found unconstitutional 1997. Or its successor attempt to reduce discourse on the Internet to what is suitable for 8-year-olds, the Child Online Protection Act? Invalidated 2003. Seven state laws attempting to restrict Internet content on grounds of decency have been struck down. Despite all this, Massachusetts has now added a couple of paragraphs to its (traditionally bricks-and-mortar) indecency law that applies a "harmful to minors" test to Internet content. The ACLU of Massachusetts and others have brought suit to block the law, which went into effect on July 11. Coincidentally, today a US appeals court tossed out the FCC's indecency policy.
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Massachusetts Bids To Restrict Internet Indecency

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  • by sjonke (457707) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @01:48PM (#32891280) Journal

    And not in "Internet" either.

  • Mature (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DIplomatic (1759914) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @01:48PM (#32891282) Journal
    Rather than try and dumb down the internet to what is suitable for 8-year-olds, I would rather raise children to be mature and handle adult content.

    The irony here is regardless of some law, young kids see crazy hardcore sh*t on the internet every day. So I guess I'm revising my first sentence to say that I would rather raise the maturity of adults to cope with the fact that kids can handle adult content.

    • Re:Mature (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 0racle (667029) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @01:54PM (#32891376)
      Maybe it would be just better for parents to be responsible and for people to realize there is a lot of stuff not produced for kids, because there are a lot of people that are not kids.

      Unfortunately, common sense doesn't get people elected.
      • by Coren22 (1625475)

        I just put my 8 and 10 yr olds on disney.com or nickelodeon.com and they never bother to try to find the rest of the net.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          I tried to come up with a civil way to say this, but I can't. Those must be some dumb kids. If they have such poverty of imagination or lack of curiosity that all they want to know about or see when faced with potential of the entire world comes from the website of a TV network... I am filled with overwhelming pity.
          • by jgagnon (1663075)

            Contentedness is not a disease, contrary to some points of view...

            • Re:Mature (Score:4, Insightful)

              by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @02:23PM (#32891808)
              It is when one is content with ignorance. Do you praise the stagnant mind? Is feeling good a better thing than knowledge, than truth? Then by all means, put amusements first, set on a foundation of comforting lies, and we can cultivate this contentment.

              Being content when you know little is easy. Being content when you know much is hard. That's why character is valued.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Anonymous Coward

                the kids are fucking 8 and 10 you condescending piece of shit. i'm sure you spent your time contemplating the fate of the universe at that age, not sitting in the corner staring at a bug with your finger up your nose.

                • Actually I was reading William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich at 10. I did pick my nose though... still do.
                  • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

                    Actually I was reading William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich at 10. I did pick my nose though... still do.

                    Big deal. I read Kant's Kritik der reinen Vernunft at age 4. In German.

                    Wrote some corrections in the margins, too. In crayon.

                    I found it relaxed me after a long morning of solving partial differential equations and watching Captain Kangaroo.

                • by bill_kress (99356)

                  Kids will pretty much live up to what you expect of them--many do pretty impressive things before 15--possibly more than most of us will do in a liftime, and can be quite contemplative and thoughtful even at 8.

                  Of course, if you expect your 8 year old to sit in the corner staring at a bug, you're quite likely to get just that.

                • Re:Mature (Score:4, Insightful)

                  by Gogogoch (663730) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @03:32PM (#32892702)

                  The reply above is not "Troll", please mod up.

                  Kids of 8 and 10 are quite happy to play in those type of website. How can the other poster be so insulting and haughty considering that these websites are fascinating and interactive (for that age) and designed to suck kids in. The poster clearly has no experience with young kids.

                  • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                    by c6gunner (950153)

                    At 8 I was programming on a Commodore 64, and at 10 I was exploring BBS's. At neither age did I find much amusement in watching talking sponges act like morons. While I certainly did enjoy SOME kids shows, and liked playing games as much as any child, there's no way in hell I would have turned down an opportunity to explore a worldwide repository of knowledge. I'd have to agree with the original commenter - such behavior certainly does demonstrate a lack of imagination and curiosity. It's not something

                  • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                    by HeckRuler (1369601)
                    Oh aye, it might be a nice site. And it's not a bad thing that the kids enjoy it. We're fine with that.
                    It's the "they never bother to try to find the rest of the net." part that utterly disgusts us. Well, me anyway. They're so attuned to disney.com that they won't go anywhere else?
                    It's like you bring your kids to the library, and for some reason they have an infatuation with poems. And you're proud that they don't try to read a novel or something crazy like that.
              • Re:Mature (Score:5, Insightful)

                by jgagnon (1663075) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @02:45PM (#32892138)

                Limiting your exposure to the Internet does not make you ignorant, nor stagnant, nor does exposure to it make you the opposite. It is just a tool and a repository of information. Because two kids don't skip all around the Internet to explore other options does not make them "less" in any way. They may choose to expand their minds offline with other activities, such as reading books or just going outside and using their imaginations.

                That fact that you immediately assume they are "dumb" is a limitation of your character, not theirs or their parents'.

                • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                  Do you really think it is unreasonable to extrapolate that lack of curiosity online indicates lack of curiosity offline? A curious person is curious, regardless of where they are or what medium they are using. Failing to explore options DOES make people less in demonstrable ways. It is a clear failure to take advantage of potential, sourced either in ignorance of that potential, or worse, lack of interest in that potential.

                  Further, while imagination is an important thing to cultivate, which is why I menti
                  • Re:Mature (Score:4, Insightful)

                    by jgagnon (1663075) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @03:24PM (#32892600)

                    This may surprise you, but it is possible for people to grow up and be intelligent, productive members of society without the Internet. I think it has even happened before, at least once or twice. :p

                    But in all seriousness, I DO think that your assumption was and continues to be unreasonable. Kids are not stupid simply because they fail to take advantage of any given potential. Some people become doctors, some people become computer programmers, and some people do both (few do both well). You might even be able to argue that any person could become either if they so chose. But not every programmer that fails to learn about being a doctor is stupid nor is every doctor that fails to learn how to program a computer. Exploring one potential takes time away from exploration of another.

                    I chose to become a computer programmer and know very little about being a doctor. I do not consider my "lack of interest in the potential of becoming a doctor" as any sort of measure of stupidity, laziness, or being less than any doctor I have met.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Sir_Lewk (967686)

                  "Expanding your mind without the internet" is as backward these days as "expanding your mind without books" was years ago. It may be possible, but you are placed at a huge disadvantage. Perhaps instead of encouraging his children to play games on the internet, he should be encouraging them to visit age appropriate educational websites.

              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                by Anonymous Coward

                Yes. Feeling good is better than knowledge or truth. I would gladly trade my over awareness and depression for happiness and ignorance. Life is a single go around, I'd rather be happy then right. Took me 45 years to come to this conclusion. I would have had a better life if I stayed ignorant. So would you.

                • Sounds like you stopped trying, like you didn't go far enough. Have you ever watched any of the interviews of Dr. Richard Feynman? It is possible, though few attain it, to be happy or at least content and still extremely aware, knowledgable, and and intelligent.
            • Now where did I put my Soma pills? Ignorance is such bliss...
          • Re:Mature (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Coren22 (1625475) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @02:45PM (#32892146) Journal

            It is called Flash games, they rather enjoy them. They also like playing on the Wii and playing Eve Online. They just haven't shown interest in the majority of the internet yet. I am not expecting that to last long, but by then I expect they will also be mature enough to handle what is out there.

        • Re:Mature (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @02:19PM (#32891754) Journal

          Putting kids on disney or nickelodeon and giving them access to nothing else is like putting them in a mcdonalds and never feeding them anything else. Sure, they won't die right away. They might even believe they like it. But you're depriving them of a whole world of healthy experiences.

          And I'd argue that to some extent disney and nickelodeon are harmful to kids. They exist only to market products to your children. They use all sorts of psychological tricks on your children to manipulate them. Porn on the other hand is targeted towards adults. If a pre-pubescent kid finds porn, they say "ew" and click away to something else. It's really no big deal, unless it's some CP that some perv is trying to push on them. In that case, where do you think the pervs are going to go to find victims?

          • Re:Mature (Score:5, Insightful)

            by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @02:31PM (#32891942)
            Speaking as somebody who found porn before puberty, I was not disgusted, but rather fascinated (heh heh, that's a joke for etymologists). Disgust is not a natural response, but a socially conditioned response, something I didn't really take to.
            • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

              Disgust is not a natural response

              And a lot of porn out there isn't exactly "natural" either ;)

            • Re:Mature (Score:5, Interesting)

              by MBGMorden (803437) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @04:07PM (#32893056)

              Same here. First porn I saw I found surfing around on our "big dish" satellite (satellite F4, channel 18 - twas the Spice Channel). My parents had a hacked box that got every channel so the porn came in along with everything else.

              I didn't find it disgusting. Mostly just interesting. I'd played "show me yours and I'll show you mine" with a few neighborhood girls before, but we were all between 4 and 10 doing that. First time I flipped to that channel and saw how different an adult woman looked, it definitely sparked my curiosity. Particularly given that this was the early 90's and the whole "shaving" revolution hadn't taken place yet, so things looked VERY different down there than what I'd seen before.

          • Re:Mature (Score:4, Informative)

            by Coren22 (1625475) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @02:49PM (#32892200) Journal

            Did I say at any point I prevent them from going anywhere else? They just prefer to play the disney and nickelodeon games with their favorite cartoon characters. At 10 years old, you are telling me you had more interests then Lego, Bugs Bunny, or whatever was available at the time?

            • I was programming at 10 years of age. Admittedly, just BASIC.

              I also read a wide variety of literature by frequenting the local library. ... I also didn't exactly have too many friends. Hm.

              So yeah, a lot of 10 year olds have a wide variety of interests. Somehow, this seems to correlate with them being nerds.

            • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

              Having the benifit of being relatively young, I can tell you as a fact that at 10 years old I was exploring as much of the internet as I could manage to pull down on my 56k modem. Perhaps the absense of mind-numbing flash games back then had something to do with it.

        • Re:Mature (Score:5, Insightful)

          by eln (21727) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @02:25PM (#32891840) Homepage

          I just put my 8 and 10 yr olds on disney.com or nickelodeon.com and they never bother to try to find the rest of the net.

          ...yet. My kids are the same age, and while not limited to those sites, they tend to only seek out stuff that I find appropriate, like cartoons and games. They also spend a lot of time on Wikipedia, but usually only to look up stuff they learned at school, or to look up the actors in their favorite shows.

          At some point, though, usually around the beginning of puberty (closer than you think for your 10 year old), they're going to start seeking this stuff out. No matter what you try to do to stop them, they'll find it eventually just like we found it when we were their age. We found it in scrambled cable channels and back issues of Playboy, they'll find it online. The stuff they'll find is likely to be a lot more explicit than the stuff we were able to find, although some of the images I found on the Internet at the tender age of 13, *mumble* years ago, were pretty hardcore. Of course, now they have full-motion video instead of the still images and occasional VHS tapes we had, but the concept is much the same.

          The trick with dealing with all this is not to go crazy when they inevitably find it, but rather to take the time to explain what they're seeing in the greater context of the world. Being taught that porn is shameful and that they've done something horribly wrong by looking at it will do far more damage than simply helping them to put porn in its proper context. On the other hand, ignoring it completely and leaving them to their own devices to gather explanations of what they're seeing will leave them with unrealistic expectations of sex and intimacy that will damage them in the long run as well.

          The key to all this is explaining topics as they come up. Many parents get asked by their very young children about sex and, rather than trying to explain it in an age-appropriate manner (detailed anatomical diagrams are probably not appropriate for 5 year olds, for example, since they won't understand them anyway), they try to avoid the question, or worse make the child feel as if they've done something wrong by asking it at all. This leads children to believe sex is a topic to be avoided, and they'll learn to be embarrassed about it and not want to talk to you about it. Later, when they find all this hardcore porn, they'll hide it from you and you'll never know what they've found or have the opportunity to explain it to them.

          If you raise your kids to understand that they can talk to you about anything and you'll do your best to explain it to them in terms they can understand, they'll be more likely to give you the opportunity to help them process indecent material in a healthy way. If you raise your kids to think of sex as something not to be discussed even with you, they'll end up finding the stuff anyway but likely will not deal with it in a healthy way.

          • by Coren22 (1625475)

            Fully agree, I didn't mean to sound like I was limiting them to these web sites, but as you said, it is all they care about right now. I might show my older boy how to look up things and show him Wikipedea as there are many things he can learn that way. Thank you for your wisdom, it is appreciated.

          • This was a beautiful response and your kids will eventually thank you for your attitude.

      • Re:Mature (Score:5, Insightful)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @02:28PM (#32891900) Journal

        >>>for people to realize there is a lot of stuff not produced for kids

        Let's get to to the CORE of this issue - it's those damn Republicans and their bible-thumping conservatism. The sooner we kick them out of Masschusetts' legislature, the sooner we can repeal idiotic laws like this.

        (someone whispers in my ear) Whaddya mean MA is a Democrat-run state?

         

        • It really doesn't sound like a very "liberal" idea coming out of Taxachusetts this time. See what happens when Ted Kennedy kicks the bucket?
        • by Nadaka (224565)

          Most democrats are bible-thumping "conservatives" too.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            >>>Most democrats are bible-thumping "conservatives" too.

            No that can't be. It makes my brain hurt to think Democrats are pro-"impose morality" too. Only the Republicans are supposed to be like that. I think I'll just pretend I didn't hear that. Tra-Lalalalalalala

        • Re:Mature (Score:5, Interesting)

          by NotBornYesterday (1093817) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @04:26PM (#32893250) Journal
          As a native, let me say that "massachusetts liberal" is just a polite euphemism for "nanny-state prude". Don't forget our Puritan roots.

          Plus, they need a pre-election distraction to get people's minds off the deficit spending and tax raising going on in the halls of power in Boston. Because some of those dictators-for-life might get voted out if any focus falls on the real issues ...
    • Rather than try and dumb down the internet to what is suitable for 8-year-olds, I would rather raise children to be mature and handle adult content.
      The irony here is regardless of some law, young kids see crazy hardcore sh*t on the internet every day. So I guess I'm revising my first sentence to say that I would rather raise the maturity of adults to cope with the fact that kids can handle adult content.

      I love ir*ny on the internets.

    • WTB +6 hell yes!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by flajann (658201)
      Yeah, how about parents being RESPONSIBLE to keep their own kids away from the "harmful content" of the Internet, if they feel that way, rather than a lone state attempting to restrict the entire world according to what they consider "decent".

      The more I see from Massachusetts, the more the term "Mass Holes" apply. These issues were settled eons ago.

      And let PARENTS, not the friggin' STATE, be responsible for the kids. Duh. Sick of the government trying to usurp my role as parent!!! CUT IT OUT ALREADY!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770)

      Rather than try and dumb down the internet to what is suitable for 8-year-olds, I would rather raise children to be mature and handle adult content.

      Even if you could compress the maturity normally gained from 0-18 into 0-14 or 0-10, an eight year old will not be ready for everything that's on the Internet. And thinking back how simplistic my thinking was despite being a bright kid, I don't think you can compress it that much either. Children don't start out as little adults and expecting them to just deal with everything from day one is completely unrealistic. Oh they might "deal" in the same way as children growing up with alcoholics and abusers and d

    • Obligatory XKCD: http://xkcd.com/751/ [xkcd.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by imakemusic (1164993)

      That will probably take care of itself when some of those 8-year-olds grow up and go into politics...if any of them can manage to live a normal life after seeing Goatse that is.

  • Time to make some good super bowl ad's!!
    and can we stop the beeping out on TV?

  • by compro01 (777531) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @01:59PM (#32891454)

    The FCC's rules only got struck down for being too vague. If they formulate a list of what words they're not allowed to say (Carlin's list, for example), it would be allowed.

  • You meddling kids (more likely your lazy parents, pastors and legislators) get off my fucking lawn!!!
  • by nebaz (453974) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @02:02PM (#32891500)

    You know, I normally take a rather conservative view on legislature vs judicial power breakdown. I'm not a fan of things like having the judiciary set environmental limits, for example, and would prefer the legislature not abdicate their responsibility. (Don't get me started on all of the agencies that are created because Congress doesn't legislate anymore). On the other hand, when I see all the junk that Congress does pass, which is blatantly unconstitutional (Internet Decency act, COPA, etC), and that they probably know are unconstitutional, I'm not sure what I think about it anymore.

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @02:03PM (#32891506) Homepage
    Banned in Boston [wikipedia.org]
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by noidentity (188756)
      Isn't that the simpler solution? Just cut off all Internet access in Boston, and let anyone who doesn't want that bullshit move elsewhere. Pretty soon nobody will be left there, and the problem will be solved.
  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @02:08PM (#32891578)
    Your state government is about to restrict access to the rest of the world through a firewall. And by firewall, I mean a giant moat filled with burning gasoline. 'cause it's the only way you'll keep out the rest of the world!
  • Why not offer free routers to anyone who requests them, along with instructions on how to set them up? The routers would be pre-configured to only allow kiddie sites like nick.com, pbskids.com, etc. I could be funded with ad revenue from the allowed sites. What could possible go wrong with that? ~sarcasm
  • end of manipulation. require credit cards for access, and the issue will be massively reduced.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anubis350 (772791)
      Not all adults have credit cards (and honestly, a lot of adults that have credit cards shouldnt :-p)
      • by adamstew (909658) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @02:34PM (#32891974)

        ... And any kid can go in to a walmart and buy a pre-paid master card to just buy it on the internet with anyway.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by geekoid (135745)

          the kid who is old enough to get to the store and buy a prepaid mastercard is at the age I'm not to concerned with.

          The problem that most people refuse to recognize is that there are a whole lot of people that try to trick people into going to sites they never intended to go to.

          So someone who manages to spoof my little pony site may lead kids to sites their parents don't want them going to.

  • unless they are speaking of phisical harm, the problerm is more about their culture, now and there, what they think children must know or not. Is about them, not children or content in internet
  • Reasonable doubt? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @02:24PM (#32891828) Journal

    How do you prove beyond a reasonable doubt that something is "harmful to minors"?

  • The world is a nasty place. Come on people do your jobs as parents.

    So no news allowed.
            To much death and destruction.

    So no religious content allowed.
            It's going to mess up some kid for sure. Even if it is from the parents religion.

    So no science allowed.
            It's going to conflict with some parents notion of religion.

  • Religion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nacturation (646836) * <nacturation AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @02:26PM (#32891872) Journal

    Religion is harmful to minors. Discuss.

    • Re:Religion (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nadaka (224565) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @02:57PM (#32892278)

      Religion can't be all bad...

      It made me the atheist I am today.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Exactly. We know the Catholic Church has a long history of harboring pedophiles, and I don't need to recite the long list of atrocities committed in the name of "The LORD". Not to mention that one book - y'know, the one with genocide, child abuse and incest, what's it called...

      Oh yeah, the Bible! Gotta ban the *fuck* outta that - for the children, of course!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mahadiga (1346169)

      "Religion was born when the first con man met the first fool." --Mark Twain

  • Yep, sure do. It was pushed by a particular political party that makes a lot of noise about personal freedoms. Not that the "opposition" put up any.. These people should be charged with wasting the court's time that is spent striking them down. How often do we need to remind them what the 1st Amendment actually says?

    • > How often do we need to remind them what the 1st Amendment actually says?

      Daily. At least.

      Of course, you may then get reminded what some of the other Amendments say...

  • If you want porn you can move to New York.
  • by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @02:47PM (#32892174)
    I've always suspected that "government shall make no law" thingy was too confusingly vague.
  • I'm surprised this has gotten so little press in MA. I had to double check boston.com to see if they mention it (yes they do, close to the bottom). The "but what about the children?" fear-news watching suburban parent syndrome srtikes again.

  • by AlgorithMan (937244) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @03:55PM (#32892932) Homepage
    Can your kid close a contract with an ISP? No, YOU do that and hence YOU are responsible for supervision of your kid's internet usage. If you put your kids in front of the tubes while you do something more fun, then YOU are responsible for anything bad that happens to the kid's mind.

    You want to censor the whole world, just so you can neglect your kids without remorse? F*CK YOU!
  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @04:30PM (#32893288)

    which as a person born in nineteen fifty (mumble, mumble), I remember quite well. It was in the public library, museums, photography magazines, news stands, posters....

    Unless the conservative christian talibani want to ban all those things and confine us all to our homes where presumably we'll sing about Jesus all day, it's unlikely that they'll even slow down the average adolescent male.

  • Harmful? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by b4upoo (166390) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @04:44PM (#32893422)

    Although it is the social custom in the US to keep kids in the dark over sexual content or cursing has anyone, anywhere, actually offered real proof that such things directly harm children? I suspect that kids walking by dear old dad watching hard core porn in the living room are probably not much interested and rarely suffer any harm from such things. If anyone is harmed by cursing and porn it is more probably adults who can't handle it.

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