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Three on Munich 61

Posted by michael
from the links-links dept.
Following up: The New York Times has a follow-up story on the Munich Ratings Summit. "Not censorship", says the author of the plan, surprising no one. Tigr writes "Many people complained that the Bertelsmann Foundation Memorandum was available only in PDF format. I took the time to convert it into ASCII. The result is available. Read it while it is not yet declared unlawful. " Javier Candeira undertook a translation of our recent Munich article into Spanish and it has been posted on the Barrapunto.com site, which also uses the slash engine. Someone who speaks better Spanish than I do will have to tell me if it's a good translation or not.
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Three on Munich

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  • This whole thing completely disregards the laws of individual areas, for example when it talks about child pornography, different places have different laws what may be perfectly acceptable someplace might be pornography in another. And if this is a voluntary action why is the wording say anything about illegal practices, if they were illegal there are already laws that deal with it. How would a law be voluntarily be accepted by a non-governmental body. And a falsely "international" one at that when only the major countries are going to have much say in what happens there.
  • by konstant (63560) on Monday September 20, 1999 @05:10AM (#1671647)
    It's a seductive argument they're putting forward: ratings aren't censorship! They put power back in the hands of parents! You can easily fall into the delusion that ratings enhance the choices, and thus the freedom, of consumers.

    Not so for three reasons.

    1) When a ratings system is in place, parents or others in positions of responsibility swiftly come to rely upon them. How many in the audience have had their parents at one time or another deny them permission to view a movie based solely on the rating given by the MPAA? My hand is raised. But consider: who judges what rating the movie should receive? The parent, or a pseudo-governmental body that may adhere to a moral code the parent does not share? Because the parent is endowing the oversight body with the right to judge what is violent content, what is obscene content, and what is sexual content, they are essentially replacing their morality with the morality of an unaccountable body. And you know the Christian Coalition would push extremely hard to ensure their members were on that board. They do something very similar with schoolboards and the MPAA right now.

    2) This plan creates the framework for future censorship. You can just see it: 10 years down the line. Some moralist says to his/herself "Say, we have the ratings system, we have the oversight board, we have the browser modifications.... let's make it manditory." All they need to do is enact one little law, requiring children under the age of such-and-such cannot watch content above the rating such-and-such. Gone to the movies lately? How do you like that "voluntary" ratings system?

    3) Economic favoritism. Companies with the bucks to lobby and/or work with the oversight agency can get lower ratings, thus increasing their audiences. Companies with smaller coffers are stuck with what they get. Hence the powerful few sites like Yahoo and AOL bubble to the top while the underclassed but virtuous sites like slashdot sink slowly downward and downward into ratings hell. Just look at Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut. If that film had received an X, how many of you would have seen it? But because the producing company had the bucks to work in a feedback loop with the MPAA, they managed to censor Kubrick's work down to a level "acceptable for children".

    I do not want my internet experience to be dictated by the capacities of "vulnerable kids".

    -konstant
  • by SolaRJetmaN (77987) on Monday September 20, 1999 @05:19AM (#1671648)
    In the movie Brazil, people essentially went through hell doing paperwork and dealing with bureaucracy, and the governing agencies told them it was to keep down terrorism. One of the key points of the movie is when a character asks, (to paraphrase) "Do you know any terrorists?"

    Here we see the same thing. I only had time to read about the first 10 sections, but it seemed that everyone was proposing that some independent agency or the like do something. The expense of a group of institutions designed to implement and enforce this ratings proposal blows my mind. But companies and politicians will support and pass it, because voters and stockholders are shaking in their boots about terrorism and child pornography.

    But I pose the question: how many child pornographers do you know? How many children that you know have built bombs and hurt people from seeing it on the Internet? That your family and friends know? Sure, there are a few. We hear all about them on Dateline. But are there so many that we should spend millions of tax dollars on this proposal? A proposal that has to be described by its proponents as "not censorship?" A proposal that imposes bureaucratic slowdown on the fastest communication method ever invented?

    The tyranny of the majority strikes again.

  • Didn't mean to imply Eyes Wide Shut is fit for children! Heh heh... parent's, don't take my movie advice as any more accurate than the MPAA critics. :)

    But you get my drift, I hope.
    -konstant
  • I disagree. Look at our movie ratings system - if you run an unrated film, it's likely to not see more than a small handful of theatres. And those that do show unrated films may wind up fines or additional cost for non-conformance.

    The very same thing could happen with ISPs, and infact is already occurring without gov't. intervention. Read the AUPs of a few major ISPs? "You will not offend, annoy, or otherwise piss off anybody - if you do, we'll revoke your access". So if you make a website that say, deals with safe sex for teens, you may wind up not being able to post it anywhere.

    The biggest threat from censorship isn't the government - it's ISPs caving in to (un)popular demand by their public officials. If we create a voluntary ratings system, it won't be long before reactionary politicians demand a kind of RBL for non-compliant ISPs by compliant ones. If you want to reach the maximum number of customers - you comply with the ratings / censorship system so they don't blacklist you.

    --

  • by Greg W. (15623) on Monday September 20, 1999 @05:58AM (#1671652) Homepage

    This is truly frightening. I've seen the other articles covering Bertelsmann's manifesto, but now that it's been converted to ASCII, I can actually read it. I couldn't get past the first page without feeling the need to respond to it.

    It's worse than everyone said it was.

    5. Governments: supporting and reinforcing self-regulation


    Self-regulation cannot function without the support of pub- lic authorities, [...]

    Huh? We can't regulate ourselves without outside help? That doesn't even parse.

    8. Hotlines: communicating and evaluating content concerns


    [...] Legislators should [...] shield them from
    crimi- inal or civil liability incurred in the proper conduct of their
    business ("safe harbor").

    This is what really set me off. They're proposing to set up a government-endorsed censorship team which will operator above the law.

    I can't read any more of this thing. I'm too disgusted already.

  • by jflynn (61543) on Monday September 20, 1999 @06:12AM (#1671653)
    All throughout the memorandum, the concept of illegal information is bandied about, like it really was taken for granted and obvious. I'm going to use the child porn issue as an example, because its the hottest button in my view.

    Granted, the coercion of children to create pornographic information is to be despised and prosecuted, but I do not see a necessity that the information resulting from these activities should necessarily be illegal to possess or distribute. Even the Bertelsmann memorandum notes the wisdom of not holding ISPs liable for possession of material created by third parties passing thru or being stored in their networks. Let's prosecute the people who abuse children, I don't have any problem with warrants for ISP logs for that purpose. But lets think a little before suggesting that possession of the wrong patterns of 1's and 0's can get you locked up.

    For one thing, given the number of children actually being abused by their own families, it seems a bit silly to spend countless dollars to attack one infintesimal part of the real problem that just happens to be highly visible now because of internet publicity. If child abuse is a concern for you, and it should be, don't think that pictures on the internet comprise the full extent, or even the ugliest part of the problem. Most of it happens in the privacy of the home by those supposedly taking care of those children. If protection of children *must* happen, *at all costs*, then lets start with video cameras in all rooms of everyone's home. Then you might have a handle on the problem.

    There are too many impossible dividing lines. There are naked children in religious art, so you need to get into the intent of the artist and the reaction of a typical viewer to define child pornography. Just try to define what is art and what is porn, you may know it when you see it, but writing down the difference *for everyone* is another matter. There are other sticky questions, like does it matter if no children were actually involved in the production, e.g. erotic cartoons? How about purely textual erotic stories? What if a download is accidental, e.g. spam, or offline reading of newsgroups -- is that still something they should lock you up for?

    I don't like the concept of being locked up for possession of information. It is more effective to legislate against the real problem -- real world activities that endanger real people of any age.
  • I hate to be on the side of states rights, but this is another case where I feel while there is some rationale for community standards, its RIDICULOUS that people would be considering it on a global level. The very largest level it can reasonably happen at is states, and even then... I think townships are an even better level. Even if all this goes into place, it's ripe for a Supreme Court takedown on precisely this issue (since "ratings" are inherently unconsitutional). Obviously, the Munich rationale is that censorship wont work without a rating system in place for each site. Silly indeed- there are plenty of other options. Commerical porn sites need to get liscenses in the real world, there's no reason they can't be required to on the net as well with such ratings. But there's no rationale at all for regulating non-cmmerical ANYTHING. Child porn is illegal already. I don't see a need to go father.
  • by JM_the_Great (70802) on Monday September 20, 1999 @06:34AM (#1671657) Homepage
    Instead of having all the governments of the world decide how we should `regulate' (a.k.a. censor) the Internet, we should let the private industry decide this. This will allow for a much better system and let the users of the Internet (how many congressmen/women use the Internet daily?) choose what they want.

    Also, here are some interesting thing I noticed about the Memorandum:

    I. It calls racist speech illegal. This is a German law and is not true for many other places. You cannot censor American hate speech just beacuse of a German law. (Free Speech anybody?)

    II. Why is everything "for the the Children"?

    III. What excactly is "Internet Misuse"?

    IV. "Properly encased with collaboration from government"? What does this mean?

    V. A new Computer Crime Agency? Why can't the agencys already in place (FBI, NSA, etc...) do this?

    VI. How do the governments want to get a "High degree of compliance"? (maybe by force (is this really self-regulatory?))

    VII. Why do we need laws protecting ISP's right to delete thing on their server? It's their server, their money, they can delete anything they want (unless they have an agreement that they woln't delete it).

    VIII. If people are scared of getting online beacuse of Porn, etc... there is always blocking software (however ineffective, it does a okay job for the casual surfer). In any case, this is a pretty stupid reason to disadvantage your kids in the future.

    IX. About the tax incentives thing, it sounds a little bit like using political power to push an agenda (regulating (*cough* *cough* censoring *cough*) the Internet).

    That's my 1/50 of $1.00 US
    JM
  • This document displays some fundamental misconceptions that we (yes, slashdotter, this means you) have been allowing to propagate for far too long. The first is that there is such a thing as an "end user" of the Internet. The very term implies a model akin to television or movies where a small group of providers spew content to the masses.

    This is not the Internet that I know. The internet that I know (and have used for over 10 years now) is a peer-to-peer network, and if we're to overcome the misunderstanding that denies the existance several hundred million PROVIDERS of information, we must find a way to communicate this.

    There are three basic flaws with the existing "end-user" model:

    1. People who just use browsers still contribute through chat rooms, forums, feedback services (hi!) and hosted services like Geoyahoo or whatever.
    2. The Web != The Internet. This document addresses things that could be done to label content. Pray, how do they intend to label ftp? gopher? telnet? ssh? What if I log into a shell account am I an end-user? What if I start using "write" to send nasty messages to all of the other users?
    3. Everyone's a server. We're solving (through sheer technical stuborness) the problem of dynamic IPs. Anyone with Linux (or BSD or even WinNT) can run apache. Heck, it's likely already set up if you're running Linux! There are content editors out there by the dozen. So, how do you police? You really can't and that's what this document is all about.

    You see, they know what I'm saying. They just don't want to admit it. If we get the word out, and stop the beuracracy from forming that would change the Internet into a publish/subscribe format, the world will have to adapt and find new ways to cope with globally accessable information.

    Of course, then the document has some of the OTHER standard problems. The evils of "child pornography" are touted. You know, VHS was going to carpet the world in kiddie porn. It was going to be the end of civilization as we know it. What happened? You can find kiddie porn in just about any media outlet that is not completely obsolete. Why? Because humans have an instinctive affection for children, and many men are so hard-wired for sex that any source of affection rips out their cerebral cortex.

    On the other hand, it's a very small segment of the population (some of them execs...) who cannot control themselves. I know, I know, if there were just a little more kiddie porn and terrorists, we could clamp down on all this darn free speach and get some controls in place before someone starts talking about how poorly the government functions.

    But, as Dennis Miller said, "That's just my opinion, I could be wrong."
  • I still dont think you've proven anything:

    1) When a ratings system is in place, parents or others in positions of responsibility swiftly come to rely upon them. How many in the audience have had their parents at one time or another deny them permission to view a movie based solely on the rating given by the MPAA?

    That's the point of a ratings system, to provide a rating on material so someone doesn't have to sit though the movie first or whatever.... besides, what rational person could call a parent forbidding a child from seeing a movie censorship?

    2) This plan creates the framework for future censorship

    Big deal, the slipperly slope argument is a bad argument in almost every case. Having computers that allow access to the internet allows this rating system to be implemented which may lead to censorship, so lets get rid of computers!

    3) Economic favoritism.

    If you take the time to read the proposal you will notice that this is voluntery, no something assigned by a group. Makes this case pretty hard to rationalize.

  • Look at our movie ratings system - if you run an unrated film, it's likely to not see more than a small handful of theatres

    What, theatre owners shouldn't have the right to decide not to show unrated movies?
  • Look at our movie ratings system - if you run an unrated film, it's likely to not see more than a small handful of theatres



    What, theatre owners shouldn't have the right to decide not to show unrated movies?
  • II. Why is everything "for the the Children"?

    Because the gob'mint (U.S. and others) know that, when they invoke the magic phrase "for the children" they can do anything regardless of pesky little details such as state and federal law, the Constitution, ad nauseatingly infinitum.

    --
  • Ok, I'm going to express my actual opinion on this subject. I'll agree that it's somewhat extreme, and that it most likely will offend a good number of people... tough shit. If you want your information filtered for content, don't come to Slashdot. It might warp your fragile little mind.

    A rating system like this is no different from censorship. For a full explanation of why I say this, read the other posts on this thread.

    I value personal freedom above all else. Especially freedom of information. We have no evidence that avalibility of information can actually harm anyone. Even kiddie porn may harm children in its production, but once it's made, it ain't hurting anyone.

    How can *anyone* judge the "appropriateness" of information? Information is appropriate for a task. If I'm trying to figure out the reaction of substances to intense heat, instructions on how to make thermite are "appropriate information".

    If you restrict information you restrict thought. It is not the realm of *anyone* to restrict thought. Not government. Not ISPs. Not Parents. *nobody*! (Well, I can't convincingly argue that you shouldn't restrict your own thought, but...)

    Even if it could be demonstraited that being able to get (for example) bomb making instructions on the 'net tended to cause kids to make bombs and blow themselves up (there is no evidence that this is the case), that's a price that society should be willing to pay for information freedom. Heck, it's Evolution in Action. Even if a *significant percentage of the population died from the avalibility of information* I'd still think that freedom of information is more imporant than any possible effect of restricting information, and we all know that the number of people who are hurt by freedom of information is well, mabie 2/year --- worldwide.

    As my sig says....

  • This is because your ISP can get away with restrictions on your free speech that Congress never could (Hence the dismal failure of the CDA and CDAII.) Why? Because they're private companies and private companies can dictate the terms by which you can use their product. If you don't like those terms, you can go elsewhere.

    Since more overt attempts to censor the internet (The CDA and CDAII) have failed, they're now resorting to more subtle methods. It might take them a while longer, but they'll eventually achieve the same goal.

  • Hold on. You're confusing censorship with "the Man holding me down." The government is the biggest threat to censor because it is the ONLY threat to censor. An ISP that chooses of its own volition to enforce its terms of service is not censoring anyone, but merely presenting customers with a choice: accede or quit. If you don't like it, find another ISP. As for your claims, I would like to see evidence of even ONE theater that was fined or that faced "additional cost for non-conformance" just for showing an unrated film. I would also like to see evidence of a safe-sex site operator that was unable to "post it anywhere." Making up examples merely demonstrates how far you are stretching.
  • The above the law thing isn't new, and the most obvious example also uses "the Safety of Our Children". Think about your local Child Protective Services. They also have Safe Harbour. They can get your rights overrun w/o resort to proper legal proceedings. These people are just trying to garner more power unto themselves by using time honoured tactics.
  • Let's just assume for the moment that this is in fact censorship, or a reasonable attempt at it. Can somebody with some practical knowledge let us poor lay geeks know what we can do to fight this one? Letters to the congressman seem a little outside of their jurisdiction at this point, so who can we bitch at?

    Barring that, who wants to lead the effort to lay wire for a non-profit global network that has a ban on ratings? I'll volunteer my limited services.
  • ...it's merely the precursor, or the "enabler" to censorship.

    To use an analogy, if I load a gun, cock the lever, and place it on the table, I'm not killing anything; I'm merely making it really, really easy for someone else to.

    By the same token, if I'm subject to a system whereby all content must be rated in several ways with regard to subjects of interest to censors, it won't take much more than the flip of a switch for someone in power to censor my content.

    Side Note: There's a glitch in Slashdot, such that all of the topics come up as posted 0 times, at any rating.
  • Oh, so every movie theatre has to show every movie? Even my 2 hour documentary Intelligent Anonymous Coward Posts on Slashdot which consists of nothing but a blank screen?

  • Companies with the bucks to lobby and/or work with the oversight agency can get lower ratings, thus increasing their audiences.

    Note that this is already built into the proposed plan. First "news" sites, with what is news and what is not to be determined by a ratings board, would get a special news exemption. Second, there would be a special "white list" of sites not to be blocked. Of course, both of these lists will be full of mainstream, corporate news sites and alternative press and alternative views will be censored.

    Marginalization for alternatives to the mainstream press is already built in. Why do you think they support it?

    --
    Michael Sims
  • One might call these descriptions "objective" but a more accurate term would be "intersubjectively convergent."

    whew - learn something new here everyday!

    Help stamp out hate crimes - quit pissing me off.

    Chuck
  • by crayz (1056)
    The worst thing about this whole mess is that at Slashdot, where I would expect people to care most about stories like this, but there have only been 29 comments.

    It shows you how shit like this gets passed: everyone is so apathetic that no one fights it.
  • This thing is just another pro-buisness censorship proposal (censorship-enabler==censorship IMO) loaded with buzzwords. Take this quote for example:
    Internet filtering: ensuring youth protection and freedom of speech
    Isn't freedom of speech the right to communicate without being filtered? So how does filtering ensure it? And as for youth protection, the "protect the children" argument has been hashed and rehashed and shot down so often...

    For the moment i'm going to ignore their value judgements ("harmful to children" and all that), since you either agree with me or i won't be able to change your mind. Let's look instead at their "layer cake" proposal for filtering the web [section 4]

    Their bottom level is PICS. Basically, this means you put meta tags in your page rating your content in whichever categories the particular PICS-rating-system author chooses. Most of the time, the authors try to claim their categories are value-neutral. At least someone this time was intelligent enough to realize that's completely impossible when rating on topics that are by necessity subjective to the individual rating the webpage.

    They do claim, instead, that they chose words designed to "lead to convergent practices". Apparently they don't understand us, that some people will purposefully apply their terms divergently to defeat their system; protesting, avoiding blockage, making the site look like the nastiest porn palace ever to get more traffic, etc. And no matter what the vocabulary, it is still impossible to have everyone, everywhere in the world agree on the dividing lines between categories, leading to more divergence. To help PHBs and consultants obfuscate meaning, they propose the term 'intersubjectively convergent' with only definition by context. (More buzzwords, too. 'inter-' and 'convergent')

    Their first 'layer' then is individual content rating. But they say that unrated sites should face no penalties, and should not be blocked without the "end-user's" consent. So the deciding factor is whether you can live without their 'incentives' for rated sites and the visitors who will block the vast unrated body of content. Especially depending on the size that this could add to the pages (how many K of META tags does their vocabulary take up?), this could turn out to be a good tradeoff for nonrating. Combine that with the divergence above, and layer 1 falls pretty flat.

    Layer 2 has third parties putting together "filters" that block based on the PICS ratings. They make it sound that anyone can create and distribute these, but probably most people are going to stick with the M$, Netscape, or ISP default in their browsers, with probably at most a dozen fourth party ones used by the majority of people. Yes, there will be a lot available out there, but people who still have a blinking 12:00 on their VCR aren't likely to look beyond the major brand names. And if there's a category that their competitors fall into, wonder if corporations will block them?

    Layer 3 is basically SurfWatch or CyberSitter, the same old concerns with spider-generated blocklists and such. Seeing this layer, i would be very unsurprised to find censorware makers on the guest list for this private little party...

    My overall impression reading this 'recommendation' is one of overwhelming deja vu. The same arguements, the same proposals, just in a new package and with a few new people on the bandwagon.

    -----------

    You may feel this is a load of generalizations and possibly unwarranted conclusions. It probably is. My goal wasn't to present an airtight courtroom case, but to provide some food for thought and further discussion. Don't reply to me, reply to the points i put forward.

    -----

  • Many illegal activities operate on a cycle of Obsession and Compulsion. Obsession with seeing or knowing about an illegal act, then a Compulsion to perform that act. Thus, viewing child pornography may cause some (already sick) people to act on their pedophilic impulses, and reading the Anarchist's Handbook [come.to] may cause some (already violent) people to make and use terrorist devices. That's the conjectured mechanism in studies such as those that link pornography to rape, etc. That's why they are saying that speech about illegal acts should be illegal, because human nature means that merely talking about an activity may promote that activity and increase its occurence.

    To my mind, however, this is the absolute wrong way to go about it. If your child is screwed up enough that they cannot handle fringe concepts and information, then you need to put blinkers on your child...not bulldoze anything in the world that might bother you or your miscreant.

    No matter what way you look at it, it's all a monument to human stupidity. Removing information about illegal activity as a means of reducing those activities strikes me as a form of Security Through Obscurity [jargon.net], and we all know how well that works. (I.e: Not at all.)

  • how appropriate that this proposal originated at munich, where adolf hitler got his political start in the NSDAP. i couldn't imagine a more appropriate place for this proposal to emanate from. with disgust deckard
  • I suppose we can all stop buying Random House books and those of us who live in Germany can raise a stink about it directly, but what can people in other countries do? Example: if you live in England or some other european nation it might help to call your representitives and tell them that you do not want a unified censorship system because you don't want Germany/France/etc. to have control over your speach.

    Also, how much of this will be non-legislative cowaperation from the other companies at the conferance? And what can we do to fight that? It would be nice to see something of a list of companies that were there next to there compeditors who were not.. then I could just call up said company and tell them I'm switching to there compeditor because they support censorship.

    Also, what kind of protocoll modifications are we looking at here.. Linux/Apache may own the server world (as in NT no longer sold at all) before this is implemented.. could we make support for the protocoll modificatios a highly non-standard and difficult to install patch? Would it be prudent to adjust the Licenses of these programs to restrict censorship support? (Linus/Apache Team save us!)

    Can will hurt Bertelsmann (boycott Random House?). How can I make shure I don't buy anyhting that comes thourgh them? Would someone like to set up a FAQ or site on how to avoid givng them any money. Could we watch them very closly and gradually make the net anti-Bertelsmann? I notices a link to there holdings here. [bertelsmann.de]

    Finally, we should keep in mind that this will hurt everyone execpt the few companies that are large enough to censor themselves.. and we should be selling Bertelsmann hate in whatever way people will be most receptive. Example: If you live near a smaller publisher you can perhaps get them to call elected officials (who don't want to put the constituants out of work) and complain.

    Jeff
  • Ok, so if they are doing it by meta tags then we can just move all content to SSL and avoid backbone filtering. Now, if we can figure out what IP addresses are in what countries we can make an Apache module to filter out ALL censorship meta tags when the packet is going to another country.. or just lie an rate everything G. unless it is gong to your own country, in which case you follow the law. This would make it MUCH harder to actually prosicute people for miss-rating.

    Jeff

    BTW> On a compleatly diffrent note, has anyone writen an ActiveX control to disable the Censorware programs which are out there? My limited knoladge of ActiveX is that it is not secure, you just have to register the control with M$.
  • There are a bunch of parties that could rate Web sites, in declining order of authoritarianism:

    1. Governments
    2. Industry groups of some sort (like MPAA)
    3. Web publishers themselves

    The new television rating system is, I think, an example of the third option. The networks rate their own shows to give a very rough indication of the audience the show was intended for.

    True, the TV ratings system was set up under strong pressure from Congress, and it ain't perfect, but it does eliminate some of the politics & hypocrisy of last minute edits to films to satisfy MPAA censors.

    I think most Web publishers -- even small ones -- would be willing to take the 5 minutes required to code their site to indicate the intended audience. The coding scheme could be set up to deal with the gray areas intelligently. For example, it could include a category for news and let parents decide whether or not "news" is appropriate for their children. And, yes, I think even porn site operators would code honestly.

    The devil is in the details, of course, especially when one has to design a coding system that is relevant across cultures yet can be understood well enough by Web publishers to code accurately. But as self-policing goes, I think we're better off giving responsibility to publishers themselves than to some industry group's unofficial bureaucracy.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    who thinks that gettin porn off the net (or making it nearly inaccessable say mandatory checking for adulthood, etc...)is a bad idea? I am not a prude or anything, but sometimes I really do beleive that the net has taken pronography to heights never before acheived. I cant count how many times have I gotten unsolicited emails just from posting on usenet. How many web sites register domain names close to possible kid-friendly sites. Last I heard, like 30-40% of the entire bandwidth of the net was devoted to porn (somebody correct me if I am wrong). That bothers me. If I deny my kids access to a computer it stifels their learning.
  • Maybe that's because everyone pretty much agree with each other on this issue, and don't see any point in finding more than 29 ways to say that the whole idea stinks?

    If two people share exactly the same views, one of them is redundant.

    But you have a point, in that people could do a lot more than simply talk about this. Maybe they already do, which is why you don't see them on Slashdot.

  • This will get marked as "redundant", I am sure, but...

    I care a damn lot about this issue... but I haven't the slightest clue how to fight it. I don't think Bertelsmann will have much inclination to listen to a 22-year-old American programmer, do you? The bastards writing this proposal are beholden to no one. And they are going to get away with it, too, because of that fact. Everybody sees that it's "for the children" and suddenly gets weak in the knees about opposing it. I mean, who wants to make the Internet "more dangerous" for the kids?

    So we are stuck, for the time being. It seems to me that getting this proposal blown out of the water would be like convincing Microsoft not to buy some small company that has created the next best thing.

    Boy, I am pessimistic today. Please! Somebody prove me wrong! I want to fight this thing... but how?

  • They propose HOW to regulate information on the Internet. WHY? Because of the children, of course, to protect and serve all of us! That's so obvious, in fact, it's too obvious... let's look at it in another way, WHO are they, WHO wants this?!

    Government and corporations. Authorities that want to keep in charge and control all of us. Information is power so who can regulate it will have the power to rule. The Internet isn't just fun (chat'n'games'n'porn), it's also about education and spreading your opinion, all kinds of opinions and experiences. Both government and corporations have been hurt by this, for them the net is even worse than public media, because it's not just a few big guys but lots of small fishes in a global pond.

    Especially government authorities should be worried since they got their power by the people to represent them. If a global network connects all people and allows them to both get all the information they need and decide based on that, we'd have a perfect democracy, no need for representatives. Politicians will become obsolete once the Internet, technology and population all are ready. That's why they fight it so much, they know it's coming, not now but sooner or later it must happen. Although it probably is too late, most of them won't give up, not until the end. Expect such attempts at regulation to become worse, but never give in, now we can forget about the past and improve the future. The Internet is something new, unlike all media, the old rules can't apply here.

    Now that we know WHO is doing it and WHY they really try to do it, HOW can we stop them? Personally, I think we should ally with corporations so they can oppose governments. We should go against the involved companies that are in favor of this regulation like Greenpeace goes against their opponents: Educate the public, spread the information, boycott the enemy... Let's clear up the Internet and get rid of the real smut, those who want to control it, these people are worse for mankind than any bits and bytes could ever be!!
  • I don't really feel that "have heard of" qualifies as "know". I've heard of a lot more folk than I would consider that I know.
  • I think (and what the hell do I know? Nothing, I tell ya...) that the way to get this killed is to somehow (aye, there's the rub) convince the corporations that this is bad. Maybe I'm too pessimistic, too, but it seems to me that public outcry isn't enough anymore. We need some good, old-fashioned corporate greed on our side. Convince E-Bay that this ratings business will ruin them - we'll see how long this thing has support. Get some big companies to pump a few hundred K into some campaign funds and this thing dies a quiet death. Forget about writing your representatives - write the CEO's!
  • That's the point of a ratings system, to provide a rating on material so someone doesn't have to sit though the movie first or whatever.... besides, what rational person could call a parent forbidding a child from seeing a movie censorship?

    He didn't say that a parent forbidding a child from watching a movie was censorship. The censorship comes in when parents base their decisions about their child's viewing solely on the ratings given by some organization. That organization can now censor what certain groups of people will see simply by giving a certain rating. Whether the rating was deserved or not doesn't matter. People won't see it because of the rating it got. Combine this with laws such as "nobody under 17 can see a movie with an 'R' rating" and you get instant censorship.

    Big deal, the slipperly slope argument is a bad argument in almost every case. Having computers that allow access to the internet allows this rating system to be implemented which may lead to censorship, so lets get rid of computers!

    The slippery slope is not a bad argument in this case. It only sounds silly when someone takes it to an outlandish extreme. Computer networks have existed for decades without ratings. They are obviously not the problem. The web has existed for nearly a decade without ratings. It is not the problem. The first link in the chain that leads to censorship is not computers. It's ratings. Computers could lead to all sorts of things. Ratings lead to censorship.

    If you take the time to read the proposal you will notice that this is voluntery, no something assigned by a group. Makes this case pretty hard to rationalize.

    Hah. Try reading this:

    To be effective, codes of conduct must be the product of and be enforced by self-regulatory agencies. Such agencies must be broadly representative and accessible to all relevant parties. Subject to a process of acquiescence by public au- thorities they should enjoy certain legal privileges enhanc- ing their functions.

    Self-regulation cannot function without the support of pub- lic authorities, be it that they simply do not interfere with the self-regulatory process, be it that they endorse or ratify self-regulatory codes and give support through enforce- ment.

    Yeah, this sounds really voluntary. Now that many people, and many children in particular, are on the web, someone decides that we need to have a v-chip for the web. This is to be done through ratings and a browser that can block certain ratings. The system will be touted as voluntary in order to get it accepted. Then, when it becomes obvious that some people will not want to be a part of it and will continue to try to make their message or content available to all. Then the ratings group will lobby to have the system be made mandatory so that it will work properly. That's when we all get screwed. It will happen. You can bet on it.

    If parents would be parents instead of putting their kids in front of the tv or computer and depending on the machine to keep the kids from harm, we wouldn't have these problems. But people apparently want to have kids and not have to take any responsibility for what they see or hear. They don't want to explain things to their kids. They don't want to listen to their kids' questions. They just want something to babysit the kids while they are off doing what they want to do. People like this should have considered how children would impact their lives and how much time and responsibility it would require before they went and had kids. These kids who are getting messed up by things they watch on tv or in movies or on the net don't need a ratings system. They need real parents.

  • Near as I can tell, he was busted for posession of child pornography, not being a child pornographer. Although, he aparently was an aspiring pedophile.

  • Let look down that list of experts and see who we can influence. I have gone through my copy and removed the names of professors and anyone who is on our side (ACLU rep.). Most of them are Europeans, but a few look particlearly easy to influence.. like:

    John B. Rabun --- Vice President and COO, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children,
    Arlington, USA. You can send an email to hotline@ncmec.org saing you hope that NCMEC is not stuping to incuraging censorship and talk a lot about Bartalsmann's conenction with the Nazi's. If they are not on our side (they havn't writen me back yeat so I don't know) you can go complain to there . There are a lot of computer co.'s on the list and they probable don't want to loose server sails because fewer people can put content on the net. [missingkids.org]

    Marie-The're`se Huppertz (Microsoft Europe, European Affairs Office, Bruxelles) and Clare Gilbert (Vice President, General Counsel, AOL Europe, Lon- don, Great Britain) should also hear from /. And anyone who lives in Europe should look at the list of European law enforcement agencies that showed up.

    There are plenty of ``just plane evil'' people there like the Internet Content Rating Association. If you want a good list of companies to boycott or call and threaten to boycott ceck out there sponcers list at www.icra.org.

    Jeff
  • It says a good deal about the health of this forum (slashdot) that you were moderated up for this comment: in just about any political debate you would have been flooded with comments attacking you relentlessly for evening drawing a breath to defend the undefendable.

    Pedophiles fall within the realms of what I refer to as the "terrophiles", the group of people who, through their unquestionable evil, can be used as an argument for any infringement on freedom.

    There other such groups: Terrorists of course (see any cryptography vs US regime article) and even normal sex offenders (how many privacy advocates are out there fighting for the sex offenders who, having served their time, are seeing their names publicly displayed and posted?)

    There was a large debate here a few years ago regarding whether possession of Child Pornography should be made illegal. My favorite quote from the whole debate was from one of the proponents of the law, who said, quote:

    "Human rights do not apply to pedophiles."

    Time to call Webster's and redefine human I guess.

    Another quote I remember from the whole CDA debate, which I believe comes from Wired or somewhere like that stated:

    "alt.sex.bondage.hamster.duct-tape is a good place to start, because who is going to defend someone who does _that_ to a hamster?"

    On a different topic, child porn is far from the only illegal information by our current regimes. Besides any information that you may have aquired without its "owners" permission, threats, computer programs (viruses, troyans, other malware) and even certain knowledge (cryptography, weapon plans) are all illegal today. Even hacking a site on the Internet, highly punishable almost everywhere is in reality just the creation and distribution of information (tcp/ip packets).

    Try asking to have any of the above back, and you are bound to here about the terrophiles. I promise...

    -
    /. is like a steer's horns, a point here, a point there and a lot of bull in between.
  • Let look down that list of experts and see who we can influence. I have gone through my copy and removed the names of professors and anyone who is on our side (ACLU rep.). Most of them are Europeans, but a few look particlearly easy to influence.. like:

    John B. Rabun --- Vice President and COO, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children,
    Arlington, USA. You can send an email to hotline@ncmec.org saing you hope that NCMEC is not stuping to incuraging censorship and talk a lot about Bartalsmann's conenction with the Nazi's. If they are not on our side (they havn't writen me back yeat so I don't know) you can go complain to there sponsors [missingkids.org]. There are a lot of computer co.'s on the list and they probable don't want to loose server sails because fewer people can put content on the net.

    Marie-The're`se Huppertz (Microsoft Europe, European Affairs Office, Bruxelles) and Clare Gilbert (Vice President, General Counsel, AOL Europe, Lon- don, Great Britain) should also hear from /. And anyone who lives in Europe should look at the list of European law enforcement agencies that showed up.

    There are plenty of ``just plane evil'' people there like the Internet Content Rating Association. If you want a good list of companies to boycott or call and threaten to boycott ceck out there sponcers list at www.icra.org.

    Jeff
  • I accedentally posted this thing twice.. I hate it when people do that. It would be nice if Rob would give us a way to delete our own post.

    Jeff

  • People like this should have considered how children would impact their
    lives and how much time and responsibility it would require before they
    went and had kids. These kids who are getting messed up by things they
    watch on tv or in movies or on the net don't need a ratings system. They
    need real parents.



    You're right. These kinds of kids are [most often] the kids who "fall by
    the wayside" because their parents aren't there teaching them "values,"
    "morals," and keeping them "in line." These are the children of parents that, as you noted, apparently didn't think through the process of having a child/children before actually doing so, because if they had, let's hope they would have realized what it takes, and that they can't handle it. Having a child means taking care of it as well.... and taking care of a child includes educating it about various things it will encounter in life and enabling it to make the educated decisions one hopes it will make. Which, in this case, would be to use the internet in a "responsible" manner, whether that includes viewing porn or not. I personally think that porn is disgusting and would consider it a responsible action to "stear clear" of such material, but I realize that there may be some [people] out there in this world that are okay with it, and would educate their children likewise, and think that everything's fine. I wish not to discriminate against such people. I'm just reiterating what has been already said, which is what I feel: parents need to be responsible, and ratings need to be eliminated, because as much junk as I know is out there ("junk" in my opinion may not, I acknowledge, be junk in yours), we need to be able to take care of our own selves, and be able to decide for ourselves what we want.. which will be, I realize, according to what I've said, influenced by our parents, but not, according to what I believe, controlled by them. Then again, further review and elaboration of/upon this argument presents several large holes/discrepancies, but hopefully you understand my point.



  • Assuming you think the computer crime laws should be enforced, a new agency does need to be created to do this. If there were an agency staffed by ex-hackers and crackers who know the scene, know the protocols, and could actually track criminal activity effectively in cyberspace, we wouldn't need all these anti-privacy laws. The existing agencies are old, lumbering beasts with their veins of communication clogged by bureaucracy, and are completely unable to keep up with the pace of the tech industry and it's criminal side-effects.

    There was a post on one of the privacy threads from someone who claimed to be an ex-spy, all about how bureaucratic and downright lazy the whole operation has become. He said the reason he quit was that all the decisions were made by desk-jockeys who didn't care about anything but their numbers, and it got to the point where the protocols weren't being followed and it wasn't safe anymore. Without meaning to sound agist, the fact of the matter is we need a young agency, staffed by young geeks, with the flexibility and atmosphere of a tech startup. Otherwise, we'll end up with way more invasive legislation just so the existing agencies don't have to work as hard.

    Using Microsoft software is like having unprotected sex.

  • I agree that there seems to be no easy solution, just a lot of opportunities for evil things to happen... However, I feel that a lot more effort is wasted on merely talking about the problem rather than doing things that may make a difference (but the latter does include some talking as well, of course).

    The enemy has two major weapons: Money and a big mouth. Can you counter that by either outspending or outvoicing them? Hardly, but then bring the battle to an arena where you get to pick the weaponry you know best, which I'd suppose is computer programming. You know the technology, you have a cheap distribution medium (the Internet), and probably a limited but seriously interested audience.

    So, what kind of software should you create? Don't ask me; I'm just trying to bring up ideas. But if you can threaten Microsoft with something as mundane as an operating system, I'd say there are probably a number of killer apps still waiting to be discovered. And, that doesn't necessarily mean you have to sell the app to a million clueless users, but rather that it could have a similar impact by merely existing in a limited edition.

    How about a useful rating system such as one adding topical keywords or audience scores to documents? An annotation system? Make it easy for others to rate your web pages, any web pages, according to their own preferences rather than some pseudo-objective standards of "suitability" for any age group. You could even allow for suitability ratings within the framework of such a system, as long as you don't make it too easy to extract that part and somehow make it mandatory. Add extra dimensions to the WWW by adding preference links to the existing hypertext links - if you like this, then chances are that you will like that as well!

    The most common HTTP server on the market is open source. Which is the most popular open source browser? What interesting things could you possibly do in a browser, that aren't done today? Support for the abovementioned preference ratings seems an obvious example. What about enhanced user control over the appearance of documents, rather than more scripting languages, more applets, more anything that is supposed to be controlled by the document author anyway? Convenient, built-in ad filtering? Runtime image manipulation such as clipping and superimposition? A private domain name system? A kitchen sink?

    With a little imagination and ingenuity, you can have a lot of fun, and perhaps change the environment of your enemy enough to force them to rethink their ideas from scratch. That should buy you some time. Remember, it wasn't the censors who brought us the Internet or the WWW in the first place, nor will they bring us the next major innovation either. Just let them spend their time adapting to an ever-changing environment.

    Of course it won't work. I'm just kidding you. Don't even think of trying to do what I outline above; you'll just waste your time. Trust me, or I'll sue.

  • No. Has it occurred to any of them that the internet is radically different from any media outlet of our time? No. So they apply the same rules and principles of archaic communication forms such as radio and television to a 21st century development. The internet is best compared to a city with a disproportionate red-light district. Anyone uninformed enough to send their child wandering through such a realm would be in absence of a few screws. If anything the government should take steps to educate their public, rather than restrict. Any limits inposed beyond that of innate mores are unacceptable. Call me selfish, but I am not willing to deal with any impediments on my internet galavanting on account of 'Joe Irresponsible Parent'.
  • I stopped reading. I read the first part where they're basically talking about individuals (and/or families or whatever) having control over what content they want to allow for themselves. Then watched them proceed to talk about how "publishers" , "service providers" and "whoever else" would do it for them, with government support. Yeah, real control for the individual. "Let us do it for you." Does anyone else find the basic concept contradictory? And just who do they consider publishers? Who the hell are they? This is the Internet. Anybody and everybody is a publisher. Ever write an e-mail? Chat? SSH? You're publishing on the Internet. Or are they confusing the Internet with the Web again? Sounds like a looney scheme from a bunch of big corporate "higher-than-thou's" to me. I can protect myself, and anyone around me who might be depending on me, thank you very much. Speaking of that, a note on overprotection: What happens when people come into contact for the first time with something potentially dangerous that they haven't been exposed to before? (Such as a virus.) And what happens when its not just one person, but an entire group? (Such as a town, village, or whatever.) There's a pretty good chance that it will overwhelm, and possibly even destroy them. Lack of exposure >> disabled defenses >> weakness >> infections, disease, and other maladies >> death. So what is with this "protect everyone from exposure to anything bad at all" mindset that people are pushing? I'm not saying kiddie porn and hate groups build defenses. I'm simply arguing against the whole "protectionist" mindset.
  • Sorry about the clustered run-on... I haven't posted in a while, and forgot to preview.


    And any formatting...

  • While I loathe attempts at censorship, frankly I find your opinions regarding this subject kind of creepy:

    1. Although the most harmful effects of child pornography are obviously inflicted on the child during the actual production, the resulting child porn is still intrisically harmful to the child, due to the psychological distress that the child would suffer knowing that humiliating images of him or herself were being freely distributed. Disagree? Imagine finding a website displaying streaming video of you masturbating in what you that was the privacy of your home. I think that a majority of people would find this experience traumatic.

    2. The production of child pornography is illegal. Period. No person, therefore, has a legal right to possess it. I don't doubt that fear of prosecution for possession of child porn inhibits at least some pedophiles from obtaining it. Simple economics: Reduced demand will in turn reduce the incentives for production, thereby preventing at least some children from being exploited this way.

    3. Straw-man arguments:

    If protection of children *must* happen, *at all costs*, then lets start with video cameras in all rooms of everyone's home.
    What are you saying? If we can't protect children perfectly against every eventuality that we shouldn't even try to protect them at all?

    Just try to define what is art and what is porn, you may know it when you see it, but writing down the difference *for everyone* is another matter
    How's this for an objective definition of child porn: Images of children involved in sexual activity. You could even go so far as to specify exactly what constitutes sexual activity: E.g., intercourse, fellatio, cunnilingus, etc.

    I really don't give a rat's ass if this kind of information "wants to be free", and I think that be defending this kind of crap you make a very convenient target for people advocating real censorship.
  • I think I understand your point. Basicly, parents must take the responsiblility for bringing up their kids the way they with them to be brought up, and not leave it to others. I agree with this, with the addition that parents should not allow their kids to be brought up by somebody else, though this one is sticky, as a smart parent will, at times, encourage their child to seek the views of others. Hmm, this is where parents discussing things with children is vital. Ugh, parenting is a difficult, tangled mess. I have two kids and though I want them to grow up with good, strong values, I also feel I have little or no right to dictate those values to them, mostly because the only two values that I consider to be universal are honesty and kindness to others. I suppose if I stick to those two and allow my kids to figure out for themselves how to implement them (with help) I won't be being too hypocritical. Gack, it's this conflict of having to teach my kids, yet needing to allow them to be themselves that makes parenting such a difficult task for me. Note, however, that difficult as it may be, I am not going to give up:)

    BTW, I think a good analogy for your argument is like what Heinlein said in Time Enough for Love (either somewhere in the Dorris chapters, or the Lazaris notes, I think): shoot your own dog, don't leave it to others.

  • I don't think there will be a classification
    for child porn or a button on the filter
    software you can click to view child porn
    (or other illegal things ) .

    The proposed rating system is only concerned
    with things that are perfectly legal
    (in western countries, anyway ).

    Child porn will continue to be dealt with by
    existing criminal laws.
    A "voluntary" self-rating system will not
    be much of an additional
    deterrent to pornographers.

    So why do the proponents of this scheme
    always talk about child porn?
    (I don't mean to imply that jflynn is a proponent)
  • Peer pressure is a very good way of enforcing social convention. Witness our own open source movement. How come the GPL has yet to be tested/violated in any major fashion yet? There's a good reason which I'm sure you'll come up with. Someday.

    --
  • Okay. This may shock and surprise, but I actually like the idea of having some sort of ratings - in theory at least.

    Many an apparently innocuous search or link can unexpectedly turn up pr0n, at least in part because many of the worst sites (the click farms and the 'adult verification' scams, and the pages with browser-maining Javascripts) care not for the average user (minor or not) who might accidentally stumble on their site, as long as they get their hits.

    So I'd like to see a reliable, ratings-based way of filtering, but:

    I still agree with everything said here about ratings leading to censorship. And I can't see any way of allowing users, parents or employers the ability to filter out selected material which does not also give governments - or ISPs under the thumbs of governments(*) - the power to filter as well.

    So therefore my fantastic solution the the problems of the internet is:

    Er, dunno.

    (*) - this is even worse, IMO. A government banning something has to justify itself; an ISP can, when asked by a government, decline to provide access to anything. As many ISPs in the UK did when the police leaned on them to ban a whole tranche of newsgroups, many entirely unconnected to porn.


    --
  • xpdf, the free alternative to acrobat reader
    comes with a PDF to ASCII converter. You can
    find it here:

    [foolabs.com]
    http://www.foolabs.com/xpdf/
    .

    Another tool is pstotext which can be found here:

    [wisc.edu]
    http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~ghost/pstotext.html
    .

You are in a maze of UUCP connections, all alike.

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