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Censorship Your Rights Online

Report On The Texas Censorware Bill 363 writes that yesterday, "in Texas, the Committee on Business and Industry heard testimony on HB1295. HB1295 is a bill which, if passed, would require PC sellers in Texas to include censorware on the machines they sell. Under this bill, if a "personal computer" incudes an operating system, the manufacturer would be required to provide fitering software. There are no exceptions for personal computers used for business, or for computers operating systems for which there is no censorware. This bill was prompted by SPAM to the author's, Garcia, AOL account popping up porn before being caught by the AOL parental controls. Garcia also said that downloading and installing the software over the net is too difficult for anyone over 30 years old to install. The committee seemed leary of the bill given that Texas B & C Code Sec 35.101 et seq requires that ISPs provide links to censorware." This lowers Texas on the list of "states to move to" when my lease runs out. Update: 03/21 06:10 PM by T : Jamie points to this earlier post at as well.
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Report On The Texas Censorware Bill

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @08:25AM (#349584)
    Maybe being a competent legislator is too difficult for anyone over 30 years old.
  • Some of us wouldn't have moved to Texas *before* this announcement either. In fact, some of us would have to be dragged, kicking, screaming, or, perhaps, dead, to Texas.

    - A.P.

    * CmdrTaco is an idiot.

  • If cost was the only concern then I'd have agreed with you. But there's also the desire to not help support those I disagree with. I don't really care about the extra cost of Windows I won't use on a PC, nor do I care about the cost of preinstalled censorware. What I DO care about is that I realize that when consumers have no choice but to buy a company's product, by law, then that company has no accountability at all. (Even worse than a government buerocracy.) In a capitalist system, you vote with your wallet. Forcing you to buy from Microsoft is forcing you to "vote" for Microsoft. Forcing you to buy censorware is forcing you to "vote" in favor of censorware.
  • I don't think this has a chance in hell.

    I'm certainly not sweating it.

    (But I'll be writing my state rep and state senator, just for good measure.)

    Don Negro

  • But see, it's not required to RUN it. It might be installed, and it might be preconfigured to be run out of the box, but this can be disabled, as the bill stands, and therefore, no one is forced to run it. Not even CIPA is advocating 'censoring', though some might consider it blackmail to require filter installation as tied to federal dollars.

    Censoring has to happen at the source of the material, before it has a chance for rebroadcast in any medium. If, for example, /. installed something that basically prevented the display of any messages containing "foobar" in them, dispite the context, that's censoring. Because it is censored, only those at the source have access to it, and therefore whatever what blocked will never see the light of day.

    Filtering happens at any point along the broadcasting line, after the source sent it out. *You* may not be able to see or read it, but it does not mean that information is not available elsewhere and that others can view it. *You* might have to jump through a lot of hoops (time, financal, patience) to see that information, but it certainly available. And that's exactly what filterware does. Just because some corp has decided that some sites will be on their 'hitlist' and be blocked for no good reason, does not mean those sites are inaccessable anywhere else.

    Now, mind you, it's a slippery slope from filtering to censoring, as I've stated before. CIPA is close to going down that, but since it mearly ties getting federal dollars to install this, and not a requirement punishable by law, it's not censoring, yet. But change a few words, and it could easily be a chilling censorship issue, which is why ACLU and the other groups are chasing after it.

    But as in the TX case, the only requirement is that the computers have to have filterware available and possibly installed. Save for the problems with OSes that have no filterware available (though I wonder if an appropriate junkbuster blockfile would meet their requirements), there's no real problems with this law assuming that the end cost to the consumers is negliable. (Going off a different post here, an additional $10 on a computer is not going to be a burden, compared to the MS 'tax'). An adult without children is free to remove it, and those with children can be a bit more secure that their family PC is filtering. But it should be strongly educated to the TX population if this bill passes that filterware is not a placebo for monitoring your children's activities on the internet; it only helps with such.

  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @08:36AM (#349591)
    (First, it's not 'censorware', it's 'filterware'. Until everyone is required to RUN it (not just have it), it's still filtering and not censoring).

    But instead of forcing OEMs to install this on computers, why not simply have the gov't subsidize free copies on CD Roms that come with the computer, making sure that the installation instructions are as simply as "follow on screen instructions"? Yes, if you assume that there's about 10 million computers in TX, that means that it would be $300-$500 million in software costs, but I betcha that you could easily persuade the filterware companies to take a bulk sum per year, say, $50-$100 million, for an unlimited 'state' licence.

    I don't think there's a problem in trying to enable any parent to have a easy way to include filtering software on a family PC, and if you put that cost into the cost of a computer or for free, and include software with the computer, all the better. But I do agree you need to distiquish between corporate sales and personal or educational sales, and it should not be preinstalled unless the person requests for it to be.

  • Ok so it was debated for a while, commities debate all sorts of dumb things. What are the chances that it will make it to the house floor? And what are the chances that it will make it into being a law?

    Folks who live in texas may want to start writing letters now.

    If you believe you can damage, believe you can fix

  • Lets be honest here the Texas state Legislature worked quite well in this case,

    Someone came up with an Idea
    It got taken up by a commitie
    the commitie desided it was a bad idea and it died that is how is should work.

    At least as seen from New Hampshire

    If you believe you can damage, believe you can fix

  • How old is this rep anyway? 30 must be a distant memory for him - or else his mind really DID go at 30.

    Me, I'm 26 and don't expect my mind to be THAT far gone in four years. Besides, aren't people 30 and over the ones for whom censorware should be optional anyway? "We must protect the adults..."
  • To which the guy would probably reply: "You mean there are operating systems other than Windows?"

    OK, this is a hilarious concept all around: censorware on the Gameboy Advance. Censorware on cellphones. Censorware in cars. After all, they're all computers that run OSes. You and I know this is ridiculous, but is there a safety valve in the bill to prevent precisely this scenario?

    Given that it was drafted by a drunk Texan who admits he isn't smart enough to install censorware, somehow I doubt he has the tech savvy to think of these questions.
  • All the 'filterware' on the market IS censorware - it attempts to HIDE certain political viewpoints from your view without telling you what it's doing or why.

    This bill would basically amount to federally requiring that all PCs come with a Republican bias built-in. Enable the "keep Junior from seeing boobs" option on your brand-new Dell and you'll have NO idea that suddenly Junior can't do research for his term paper on gay rights. And you won't know why.

    Of course some people LIKE the idea of a Republicanized Internet. But nowhere is it supposed to be the job of the government to provide for such a thing. And notice the filterware vendors don't bill it that way anyway - they tell you it's supposed to keep Junior from seeing boobs, they don't tell you it's also supposed to keep Junior from reading about women's rights and whatnot.
  • Hell, the bill states that it STILL has to be provided, even if there is NO OS INSTALLED - that it has to be compatible with "at least one" OS that CAN be installed on the computer. I wonder exactly how much hardware you can sell before you have to include a box of censorware...

    I smell money somewhere - probably coming from a TX based censorware company...
  • The appropriate term is authoritarian--not fascist.

  • Buy your new PC with Linux installed (zero price) and Junkbuster installed (easily configured to block material with certain characteristics.)

    Thus the law is complied with, you get no spam emails or banner ads, and you get a cheaper computer.

    Damn I'm good. (setting myself up here.. ;)

  • Yeah, and not just junkbusters is available, there are other, similar products and services out there.

    Also, before reading your post, I thought of procmail which could be used to filter emails and throw away and that contain naughty words.

    Also, I believe some proxy software can be used to block access to objectionable sites, and of course any decent free OS comes with firewalling software.

    No, there's plenty of "filterware" for free operating systems.
  • This lowers Texas on the list of "states to move to" when my lease runs out.

    Oh, please. They have an idiot in the state legislature. Are you going to exclude from consideration every state that has at least one idiot in their legislature?

    If so, you're going to be living in Sealand.

  • The funny thing is that the law doesn't seem to specify what it is that the "filtering" software needs to censor.

    For instance, here is a possible piece of filtering software for Linux:

    echo "" >> /etc/hosts

    This filter, when installed, will prevent a linux user from accessing certain noxious internet content. It appears to fully satisfy the criteria of the proposed law.

  • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @10:20AM (#349613)
    I can see the headlines now. As NASA purchases more sparcs, HPs, and Linux PCs, now preinstalled with Bloatware's latest TapeYourMouthShut Censorware(tm) product for their respective platforms, missions are disrupted, perahps even scrubbed, or worse, as the poorly written, closed source software memory leaks all over the system, bringing it to its (still operational, but just barely) knees. Calculations which once to microseconds now lag for tens of seconds, orbits and maneuvers are started too late or missed altogether, etc. etc. Until the computer handling communications signalling gets so out of sync that communications are lost, or rerouted to some other locale with less, shall we say, encumbered equipment (such as Russia or Edwards)

    All so some idiot 30year plus legislature can go a few more years without bending a single brain cell to obtain basic computer literacy.
  • If you vote for or sign three pieces of legislation that are later rejected as unConstitutional, you are disqualified for re-election.

    (Optional additional penalty for really dumb examples of such legislation: a boot to the head.)

  • Your proposal would probably itself be unconstitutional!

    On what grounds?

    If you're right, I wouldn't vote for it or sign it. (In the unlikely event that I'd be in a position to do so.) There's a difference -- or should be -- between toying with a concept and thinking that it should be implemented.

  • by Spud Zeppelin ( 13403 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @08:30AM (#349619)
    Ahh -- but this bill is "good for Dell". Why?

    It's painfully easy for Dell, Compaq, etc. to negotiate OEM licenses with Mattel, et al., to bundle a censorware product on their PCs at an oh-so-cheap price. Meanwhile, all of the little PC vendors in places like Beltline in Carrollton and N. Central Expwy. in Richardson would have to pay substantially higher prices for the censorware, driving up the prices of their PCs, and making the mass-produced hardware more competetive.

    Don't be surprised if the AOL story that Garcia cited is nothing more than a red herring, and he's just shilling for Compaq (or maybe Dell, but it is less likely).


  • It seems to me that censorware is an excellent business to be in right now. Let's look at how a censorware business works:

    1) You begin by building a piece of software that works at blocking a certain set of benchmark sites (and you build the list of benchmarks). The benchmark sites are compiled by a group of college students you pay to surf pr0n all day

    2) You hype up the products abilities (based on those benchmarks), and when people find holes you just patch those few holes you can and say you are working on improving it. No need for perfection here because nobody expects it.

    3) You get state legislatures and the federal government to mandate addition of censorware to computers. This gives you an automatic federally enforced income.

    You get to develop a shoddy product, surf pr0n, and you get the government to pay for the whole damn thing. Wow, I think we've found socialist nirvana!


  • First. Means consummers (reguardless of user) will be paying for more software.

    Second. This will eliminate existing Linux preinstalled machines. BSD makes some money by selling BSD preinstalled machines. Not anymore...
    Sun will be forced to create and install filter software for computers that will never need it.

    Third. EA and IBM have perfected techniques to eliminate software from a given operating system or computer platform.
    Any company with enough money could crush compeating operating systems by just eliminating filter software.
    [Yes I am refering to Microsoft here but realisticly speaking VA Linux could do this as well... There is no monopoly on this...]

    Forth and final: The whole basis of this law is some politician dosn't know how to use his computer.
    What an outragously stupid reason for a law.
  • What a stupid reason to pass a law.
    He can not download and install software. I guess he is using Linux becouse he sure is hell isn't using Windows.

    Hay someone e-mail this idiot some censorware and give it the title "I love u" I mean gezz...
    Think about this. What is an e-mail virus? It's a program that tricks users into installing the virus without knowing that they are doing it.

    So as a public service to morons everywhere...

    Felinoids "How to install software"

    On Windows: Click on the link. Let it download. When a window pops up click on the box saying "run after downloading".
    A few moments later the software will install itself.

    On MacOs: Download software. decompress using unstuffit or something along those lines (I don't use Macs) and run the stupid installer.

    On Linux/Unix: Download. Decompress using tar -zxf filename. Read the "INSTALL" file. Compile and install according to that file.

    Debian: Use getapt (I don't use Debian so for more info type on the command line "man getapt")

    I'm skipping around a bit on Linux and Unix and Mac but you get the idea.

    I heard a wonderful term that fits people who can not install censorware themselfs...
    12 o clock flashers....
    The VCR clock is flashing 12 o clock all the time...

    Not everyone over 30 is a 12 o clock flasher... most people over 30 can set VCR clocks... and install software.

    I sure hope this guy dosn't take the same approch to driving or governing that he takes tword using a computer.
  • fascist

    1. Said of a computer system with excessive or annoying security barriers, usage limits, or access policies. The implication is that said policies are preventing hackers from getting interesting work done. The variant "fascistic" seems to have been preferred at MIT, possibly by analogy with "touristic" (see tourist).

    The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, 1993-2000 Denis Howe


    fascism 2. Oppressive, dictatorial control.

    1. Characterized by or favoring absolute obedience to authority, as against individual freedom: an authoritarian regime.

    Seems like they both work to me. Go pick a different nit


  • by rw2 ( 17419 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @08:33AM (#349630) Homepage
    I read the summary and kind of chuckled at how the old people were so out of the loop that they couldn't install censorware. Sadly, I didn't wake up to the fact that I'm turning 33 in a few days until I read your follow-up.

    So I declare that the rep is both naive and fascist were before I only thought he was fascist.


  • by Arandir ( 19206 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @12:16PM (#349632) Homepage Journal
    Longtime readers may be aware that I have little to no problems with censorware. I believe that people should be able to do what everythey want on the net so long as they don't interfer with anyone elses right to do the same, and that they do so on their own machine. That terminal in the public library isn't mine, so I don't get to make the rules about what software can or cannot be installed.

    But ignore all of that. This Texas bill has nothing whatsoever to do with censorware. It has everything to do with some buttinski politician exploring the seemingly limitless avenues personal political power. The bill could be mandating the installation of Linux on PCs, the use of asphalt shingles on doghouses, or flow limiters in toilets, but it would be every bit as evil.

    I can understand why Garcia is ticked off that some unsolicited porn popped up on his monitor. But what I don't understand is why the wrath is targeted at the innocent retailer and consumer rather than being targeted at the actual culprit. It's time to start filing criminal charges at the pornspammers instead of imprisoning their victims.
  • How do you define censorware? Is it mandatory to block Do you need to have closed blocking list?

    Why not have a GPL'd censorware that has an open, user-modifiable block-list? (Why am I asking all these questions?)

    Could a simple firewall blocking all documents that had one of the seven dirty words(tm) in them, classify as censorware?

    I believe a free, easy to uninstall alternative censorware would really be adopted by all the independent retailers.

    I still hope this doesn't get thru.

  • Becuase, now you're paying the Windows Tax AND the Censorware Tax on top of that. Just what we all needed, huh?
  • Umm... the company that can make more money? (by 3 orders of magnitude...)

  • Not the same one. This Robert Sewell is a hotshot consultant in the Washington D.C. area and a personal friend. I can personally attest to his encyclopediac knowledge and peerless software architecture and development skills on any platform you care to name.

  • More specifically, in a battle between commercial censorware and thousands of pimply-faced adolescent boys awash in hormones and free time, who do you think would "win"?

  • Yes, on one hand he's saying, "Don't trust anyone over 30 to have a clue about technology." and on the other he's saying that, "While I don't have a clue about technology, I know how to fix it."

    People might complain about Texas politicians being amateur, but this kind of thinking often happens at the national level too!

    I would also be upset if something popped up porn at me without me being able to stop it, but we all know what a double-edged sword censorware is. Or more specifically, it's only got edge, and that only works on the user.

  • I would also be upset if something popped up porn at me without me being able to stop it, but we all know what a double-edged sword censorware is.

    More to the point in a battle between commercial censorware producers and porn spammers who do you think would "win"?
    1. It is censorware unless the person who is doing the reading is the one who installs the software. This stuff is mostly used by one party (a parent or employer) to decide what another party (a child or employee) can read. That is censorship, whether you think it's good or bad. It's not government censorship, but government is not part of the definition of censorship.

    2. Especially for older children, it's not a settled question whether you have a moral right to control what they see, or whether anybody should help you out with that.

    3. Even if you do have such a right, the software doesn't work, and the state shouldn't be encouraging people to sell snake oil.

    4. Even if the software worked, different programs would have different blocking criteria. If you're going to control somebody else's Internet access using a piece of software, you should damned well be paying some attention to what the software is doing, not taking some random program chosen by the state.

    5. I don't want to pay extra for software that I won't use. I don't want to pay it in the price of the computer, and I don't want to pay it in taxes, either. If you want the software, you pay for it. If you think it's absolutely essential for you to have this software to raise a child, and you can't afford the software, then I guess you can't afford to have a child. Shit happens.

  • Oops. I missed your biggest misunderstanding.

    The "censorware tax" isn't a literal tax. The phrase is an analogy. You have to pay for the censorware whether you want it or not, so the entire price of the censorware is like a tax.

    The original such analogy was the "Windows tax", where you buy Windows with a new PC even if you intend to delete it immediately

    I was wondering why you thought the censorware was so cheap.

  • Funny!

    Boss of nothin. Big deal.
    Son, go get daddy's hard plastic eyes.
  • legislators who either don't KNOW that this is blatantly Unconstitutional, or worse, don't CARE and are going to try it anyway

    The problem is that the oath of office isn't backed up with prison time for violation.

  • A _committee_ is _hearing_testimony_ on the bill. That's about the equivalent of you or I looking at Saturn's website while we're in the market for a car. It doesn't mean that we intend to buy a Saturn. It means that it's a possibility, if they meet certain requirements. Right now, this Slashdot story is about the equivalent of a Ford fanatic going nuts because he happened to look over your shoulder and see what you were doing.

    Let me explain the steps that this bill will have to go through in order to be passed (as I understand it):
    1) A committe hears testimony.
    2) The committe votes on whether or not to recommend it to the House as a whole. I believe the committee can also modify the bill, or recommend modifications.
    3) If the committe approved, then the House considers it (I'm not sure if they hear more testimony or not). This may also include modifying the bill.
    4) The House votes on whether or not they approve the bill.
    5) The Senate considers the bill (again, I'm not sure if they hear more testimony). The Senate can also consider modifying whatever the House sent them.
    (I'm not sure which order the next two steps occur in)
    6/7?) The Senate votes.
    7/6?) If the Senate approved a different version of the bill than the House, then people from the Senate and House have to work together to reach some sort of compromise.
    8) If the governor approves, he signs the bill.

    That's no less than 8 steps (possibly more), and we are on the _first_ step. Along the way, the bill can be modified at 2 or more places. These modifications could include clauses for OS's that don't have censorware, and maybe a clause that will allow the buyer to opt out of the censorware. In fact, as I understand it, very few bills (possibly none) survive the process without modifications.

    Or the bill could be outright rejected at no less than FOUR places (committe, House, Senate, governor). What this really means is that the democratic process is working. Someone wrote a bill that they think is being important. A small group of people are looking over the bill to see whether it's worth having everyone look at it. At this stage, if you're a Texas resident, this might be a good time to send one of these people a kind, well-worded letter about some of the shortcomings of the bill. If no one in the committee listens, then you still have two more opportunities to influence someone into making that change.

    This is how the democratic process works: slow but steady. The entire thing was designed so that Joe Q. Citizen could provide his/her input at many places.

    So, please remove the stick from your rear end, and report on what's actually happening.

    By the way timothy, if you're going to knock states off your list because of the bills they've considered, you might as well knock them all off, and find a new country (maybe you could be Slashdots first foreign correspondent?). Actually, this might be a good idea, because you seem to have very little understanding of how the U.S. government works.

    Also, to the person that submitted this story, where's your source for the thing about the AOL email? I followed all of the links, and didn't see anything about it. As far as I know, you made that whole thing up and then posted it as a fact.
  • > [ ... ] the old political logic:
    > 1) This is terrible!
    > therefore
    > 2) Something must be done!

    You forgot: 2.5) for great just^W^Wthe children!

  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @08:55AM (#349665)
    > Yeah, censorware exists for Linux.
    > # route add default reject

    Hmm... Now that I think about it, something like Junkbuster and a non-null sblock.ini should probably qualify.

    After all, it's something its users use to block content they deem offensive ;-)

    If it ever looks like the bill will pass, all we have to do is point this out and supply a suitable blockfile. The DMA will spend a small fortune on lobbyists to kill it.

    Pisses off the control freaks. Costs the DMA money. Sounds like win-win all around.

  • It would be better to move their HQ elsewhere. Or at least announce to consider it. If they can make the point public that this bill is just forcing away business (and hence money) from Texas some people might reconsider.
  • What if a company decides to market PC's that feature Linux instead of that other 'life on the edge of a crash' OS?

    Under this bill, if a "personal computer" incudes an operating system, the manufacturer would be required to provide fitering software.

    According to that summary the bill would seem to apply to computers with pre-installed operating systems. In other words: To machines bundeled with the software.

    Assuming that's the case it might provide an incentive to unbundle, selling machines WITHOUT pre-installed OSes, and sell the OS separately, as a way to evade the law.

    If that happened, Linux users could get the machines sans MS, and not have to try for the essentially unobtainable refunds.

    Of course, once Microsoft makes a "Texas Edition" the incentive is gone...
  • I've always wondered a bit about why there's so much republican bashing on this site. Anyway, I think that some of your points are a bit off the deep end here.

    Poor people are poor because they want to be poor.

    I'm pretty sure that nobody has ever said this except for liberals when they're attempting to ridicule conservatives. Some people see creating opportunities as a better solution than handouts.

    Children do not deserve a quality education if they can't afford it.

    Exactly, that's why school vouchers are a good idea. Education funding should be for students and not for schools.

    A $500 tax cut for the average American is generous.

    Damn straight. And I'm sure that the average American would have been even happier with a $501 tax cut from Gore. Let's see $500 divided by 26 paychecks a year is, wow, an extra $20, DAMN! now I can afford a Lexus.

    A $40,000 tax cut for the upper .05% is fair because they pay more taxes.

    Well damnit! I think that it would be more fair if everyone paid the same amount in taxes. Let's face it. Taxes in the US are pretty low. Cutting them by a few percent isn't going to amount to much unless you're paying an awful lot in taxes already.

    Estate taxes are bad.

    That they are. They aren't effective at keeping an effective aristocracy from existing and they hurt people who depend on owning business property like shops and farms for their income.

    Oil is good.

    Sure is. Oil is pretty essential to the modern economy and it's a far sight better than coal.

    Fossil fuel dependency is good. the more oil we have access to, the more gooder the good is. Exploring alternative energy sources and encouraging efficiency is bad.

    Nobody is saying that, but keeping energy costs low is important too. Bush has actually shown quite a bit of support for ethanol based fuels.

    Government funded research is bad. Social programs are bad. Better weapons technology is good.

    Government funded research should be accountable for producing results and new knowledge. Social programs that don't provide anything beyond a free paycheck are bad effective social programs provide opportunities for a whole community. Better weapons technology is good. It's a way of spending research money while producing a tangible benefit as well.

    The middle class is thriving. The middle class has a higher standard of living than 10 years ago. There is a larger and more vibrant middle class today than ever before in our country's history.

    And how is this a problem caused by the current administration?

    Cheap foreign labor is good for America.

    Yeah, Americans like to buy things.

    Do you want fried with that?

    No, I'd rather have onion rings today.

  • Dell is in Austin Texas. I would image they wield some serious power down there.
    it's already around 48-49 on the list.

  • That ad campain about it being a different country was right. Library censorship is one thing, but I cannot imagine that any other state (Well, maybe Utah.) would let this go anywhere. Makes me glad I decided to pass up going to the University of Texas and become a dotcommer (Ok, given my company's stock price, that isn't true :).

  • Let alone the court of the free market. Idiotic laws like this would pretty much halt any new computer manufacturing plans in Texas, and give the present manufacturers plenty of incentive to move out.

    I can't see this becoming law - companies that large should have more than enough politicians on their payroll (oops, did I say that?). Of course, the digital industry has often lagged its Old Economy predecessors in the political arena.

  • by MattW ( 97290 ) <> on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @10:02AM (#349695) Homepage
    Rather than posting on /., I started with a letter to my representative, since I'm now a Texas resident. I objected to the bill on the following counts:

    Provides no ability for consumers to "opt out" of the installation when buying a computer.

    Provides no exemption for businesses

    Filtering software has been shown to be highly inaccurate

    Provides no provisions for non-Windows operating systems

    The Bill's fiscal note attached estimated a financial impact of zero. If Dell is required to install a $50 censorware package that a business does not need, and other manufacturers like Compaq are not, by virtue of not being in Texas, that hurts Dell, and hurting Dell hurts Texas, especially in my area (I live in Round Rock, where Dell world hq is)

    I urge all Texas residents to do the same, today.

  • ...they hype is bigger than the fact. If one actually reads the bill, the only requirement is that software is included with the machine. Nowhere does it say "include censorware on the machines..."

    Yet another dreamland article courtesy of /.

  • by haystor ( 102186 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @08:31AM (#349705)
    Well it does say all computers sold with an operating system. That, and I'd bet most people still connect by modem.

    What I'm thinking is that if they want to legislate inclusion of censorware because its too complicated for people to possibly install, then they need to legislate the inclusion of other things. In fact, PC sellers should include everything the buyer might ever need on the computer because it would be too difficult to install.

    And when I go to fill out my taxes, they should be done for me when I pick up the forms because that is too complicated.

    As long as we can just pass laws and make solutions, if I buy a car (I bought a Saturn) then I should be provided with a car that would fill all my possible needs. Choosing the right one is too complicated for me.

    Hmm. We could pass a law that all medicine should work, and be applied successfully.

    Damn, this is easy.

  • It does, however, force you to PAY for getting that software that you may or may not use. Last time I checked, none of the censorware vendors were non-profit organizations -- all their products cost money, and even if they didn't (or even if 'evaluation versions' were used), the added costs of supporting the censorware and installing the censorware would increase the price of the computer system. This is intentionally driving up the cost of personal computers even for customers who would have no need for such things (corporate customers, for example). The only reason it passed was the sacred reason of "protecting the children". If they really wanted to make a difference to this, forcing creators of adult websites to use RSAC/ICRA tags would've probably been a more effective measure.
  • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @08:26AM (#349714) Journal
    "Garcia also said that downloading and installing the software over the net is too difficult for anyone over 30 years old to install."

    Maybe Mr. Garcia should learn that just because he's an idiot, not everyone in his age-group is equally idiotic.

    Or in other words, "I'm stupid, I've got power, I'm going to keep dangerous objects away from EVERYONE else, because I can."

  • Ship the computer with a blank hard drive. Enclose a bootable CD with everything ready-to-install on it. The consumer would turn on the machine, wait for "Missing operating system", insert the CD, then hit the panic button. The machine reboots and installs Windows, productivity apps, whatever. Maybe it'll be a few CDs, with a prompt to insert the next one when needed. Make it DEAD SIMPLE. This way, the machine does indeed ship blank, so no censorware will be needed.

  • by MikeTheYak ( 123496 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @10:14AM (#349721)
    Here's the kicker, though. The bill is predicated on the assumption that people are too clueless to download and install software themselves. By the same token, then, they ought to be too clueless to deactivate or remove software. The bill actually attempts to mandate censorware, not filterware, if you look at it through the eyeballs of those who drafted it.
  • Boy, isn't that the truth? Too dumb to either a) doubleclick on InstallCensorware.exe or b) put a CD in the drive and click 'install' on the autoplay popup, but apparently more than qualified to influence state laws. God bless America; they can use all the help they can get.
  • by rgmoore ( 133276 ) <> on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @08:41AM (#349726) Homepage

    It seems to me that there are two arguments here. One is the common one about censorware being evil and the other is that there is no censorware available for some (i.e. Free Software) operating systems that people want to sell. I don't have any solutions to the first other than to try to stop the legislation from passing, but I do have an idea about the second. Well just install Junkbuster and call it censorware.

    If you think about it, Junkbuster is capable of doing everything that people expect from their censorware. It can block a whole list of sites based either on domain names (like or regexs (like domains including the word sex). With a bit of work you could make it look just like any other piece of censorware. Of course the big difference is that you'd also include the traditional anti-ad blocklist and a set of instructions- maybe even a shell script- to switch from blocking pr0n to blocking ads. This would allow you to dodge the law while providing something that your customers actually want. It's also easy as hell to disable if you decide to do so.

  • It would probably work much the same way the all car manufacturers are required to include extra emmission controls on all cars sold to California, regardless of where they are manufactured... even outside the US.
  • ok, so I know they mean parents. Still think that this sounds like someone following the old political logic:

    1) This is terrible!
    2) Something must be done!

    3) This is something
    4) This must be done!
  • Anyone seen censorware for Solaris clients?
    etc etc
    This bill seriously needs to include a clue as to what they are legislating...
  • by iainl ( 136759 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @08:24AM (#349739)
    "installing the software over the net is too difficult for anyone over 30 years old to install"

    Oh no! We better legislate to protect those innocent little 30 year olds minds before theyre corrupted!!!

    This sounds like the most dumbly worded bill I've ever heard.
  • Especially for older children, it's not a settled question whether you have a moral right to control what they see, or whether anybody should help you out with that.
    I claim both are very settled.

    I have a moral right to control what my kids see, because I have a moral obligation to raise and educate them until they reach adulthood. Now I, and any smart parent, will allow my kids more and more control over what they do and see as they get older. By the time they are almost ready to move out on their own, but still living under my benevolent dictatorship, they will be making almost all their own decisions. In this way, I will do my best to equip them to deal with the world.

    Perhaps you could argue that some people should help me out in parenting my children (neighbors and relatives come to mind). However, under no circumstances should anyone be forced to help me out, by paying taxes to provide me with filtering software. (Be aware that this is from the guy that thinks others should not be paying taxes to pay for my kids' schooling, either.)

    Even if you do have such a right, the software doesn't work, and the state shouldn't be encouraging people to sell snake oil.
    How right you are! Parents, put that computer in a common area, not up in the kids' room. Use it with your kids. When they do use it on their own, make a point to come by and see what they are doing.
  • It certainly IS possible to block all indecent material. Simple, just block EVERYTHING. Would comply with the letter of the law. A filter that has 2 settings. Internet On and Internet Off. On the Internet Off setting it would DEFINITELY block all porn. Just put a real user friendly icon on the desktop (a big switch with a wireframe rendition of the world connected to it would be cool) and a commandline program (internet --on and internet --off for example) and you're legal. ;)

    (maybe not, ask a lawyer for legal advice...)
  • Garcia also said that downloading and installing the software over the net is too difficult for anyone over 30 years old to install.

    Sorry if there's a blank post with the same title. I hit enter my mistake. Anyway, I guess I'm in a lot of trouble. Geeze, I mean I'm like 33 now and I'm still writing software. Time to retire and let the kids take care of the computer at home. Oh, waitaminute... That's right I don't have any kids. Dang, now I'm screwed.

  • Dunno why this was marked troll. Swordgeek here brings up a very good point. Just because the honorable(?) Garcia is too lazy to figure out how to use his computer doesn't mean anyone else is that lazy. However, the problem is that most folks out there are that lazy. I get the picture that a lot of parents hide behind the fact that computers are so new and so complicated that they can't cope. I think such people should wake up. I mean c'mon here, you're telling me that an adult in their mid thirties who's been filing taxes and maybe running a small business is less sophisticated and literate than a child, even a teenager? I don't buy it. Granted, I'm coming from the perspective of someone who learned to program on an Apple II, but let's face it any adult that's not mentally impaired should be able to sit down with a manual and a tech support phone call and install filtering software. That is if they want it. What this takes is time and effort. So does sitting down with your kid and having a talk about what's out there both in the online world and the real world. That's what's really lacking in this disconnected suburban society.

    My roomate is very conservative and I'm very liberal as some of my posts might indicate, but we both agree on one thing. And, that's the danger of this trend towards legislating risk and responsiblity away. He cites the increasing trend towards gun control, and I point to things like this. It all boils down to the same thing: Suburbanites want protected spaces cut off from reality and the possiblity that life has risk. No amount of legislation can ever keep the darker side of life from intruding. If you want to protect kids from from this darker side, you have to prepare them to confront it. You're going to have to take the time and make the effort to transmit the values you believe in to your kid. You're going to have to train your kid to think for themselves. But, of course, that's the problem. It's an effort and requires you take responsiblity. Of course a politican can't say that and expect to get relected in this risk averse society. A politican has to say don't worry, we'll make a law to cover that. Don't worry all it costs is a little bit of freedom. You won't miss it. And, for most people these days that's true. Most folks like their gilded cages.

  • (First, it's not 'censorware', it's 'filterware'. Until everyone is required to RUN it (not just have it), it's still filtering and not censoring).

    It's censorware because they are deciding what the public can and can not see. And because the censor lists are usually proprietary, you can't actually see what they are blocking. That's bad.


  • Its censorware if even one person is required to run it.
  • The text of the law:

    A person in the business of selling personal computers shall provide with each personal computer sold by that person software that enables the purchaser of the personal computer to automatically block or screen indecent material on the Internet.

    There is no software in existance that enables a person to automatically block or screen indecent material on the Internet. We all know censorware doesn't work, and I don't just mean in terms of false positives. It fails to actually censor indecent material. If I SPAM you and 5,000 other texans with naked pictures of your mothers there is no way that you are going to be able to stop me using censorware. Censorware still can't determine if an image is naughty until its been listed in their databases.

    So requiring that computers be able to block indecent material isn't possible. In all truth, no one can comply with the law.
  • by e_n_d_o ( 150968 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @08:59AM (#349765)
    Linux is one of the few systems that actually CAN comply with this law:

    Just include a script somewhere on the system:

    ipchains -P input DENY

    This is just about the ONLY way to comply with a law that REQUIRES computes being able to CENSOR INDECENT material.
  • I assume you don't need to provide censorware if you don't include a network card with the machine.

    Time to open a network card reseller in Texas.

  • Here's a link to the Comittee's archive page with the realaudio stream of last night's hearing (3/20/01) []. Forward to about 35 minutes before the end of the stream.

    For your edification about what happened here's the summary I posted on the Censorware Project page []:

    Having learned how very long these things can go on, and knowing that it is inevitable that the bill one is interested in will be the very last one presented, I didn't go to the hearing. I did, however, monitor it in the background on my office PC so I could see what they did with the filtering bill.

    At the hearing this evening on HB 1295, the author of the bill, Rep. Garcia, ended up asking the committee to leave the bill pending, with no action taken on it. Rep. Garcia stated that he'd gotten a few ideas for reworking the bill after hearing the comments of the committee and of the two witnesses who spoke against the bill. Rep. Garcia said that maybe the goal of his bill could be achieved by simply mandating an instruction sheet for how to obtain filtering software, rather than imposing a requirement that software be included.

    Rep Garcia brought no witnesses to the hearing to speak in favor of the bill. (Aside: a bill with no witnesses in favor of it is doomed at the Lege in my experience.) He cited his son's experience with explicit porn spam as showing the need for the bill. He said that the ISP linking law wasn't enough because the process of going to a website, downloading software and installing it on a PC was too difficult for most family users of PCs. He also cited CIPA, saying that if Congress can mandate filtering software at the Federal level, then surely Texas can mandate it at the State level. He also said that the term "personal computer" in the bill meant that the bill would only apply to computers for family use, and not those for office use.

    Speaking against the bill were Chase Untermeyer, head of governemnt relations for Compaq Computer Corporation of Houston, and also William Silverstein, a former employee of a computer company he left unnamed.

    Urging the committee not to pass the bill, Mr. Untermeyer cited the competitive disadvantages that Texas computer makers would be placed under if the bill passed. He also mentioned the recent ACLU and ALA suits concerning the CIPA. (Aside: Besides working for Compaq, Mr. Untermeyer is also a member of board of the Texas State Board of Education.)

    Mr. Silverstein discussed the inaccuracies of Cyberpatrol, and the broadness of the bill's applicability to all personal computers. He also mentioned the problems the bill would cause for sellers of PCs with operating systems for which there are no filter software products available.

    The committee members sounded skeptical of the need for the bill, with one saying that there was already an existing ISP filter link requirement under Texas law.

    Apparently giving up on passage of the present HB 1295, Rep. Garcia said that he would try to rework the bill with some new ideas and asked the committee to take no action on it and leave the bill pending, and that is what the committee did with the bill.

    A realudio stream of the hearing ought to be available on theTexas House Committee on Business and Commerce's audio archives page [] at some point tomorrow. You will have to forward through the stream to about thirty-five minutes before the end of the stream to hear the twelve minutes or so that were spent on the bill.

    All I have to say is kudos to the two witnesses against for hanging out there for five hours to speak out against the bill.


  • "installing the software over the net is too difficult for anyone over 30 years old to install"


    "Voting using punchcards is too difficult for anyone over 30 to do."

    I wouldn't be surprised if this happens in Texas... i mean, look at the moron who came from that state already...

  • My computer came with Windows installed, yet I was fully capable of uninstalling, reformatted and installing linux. Most people can find the "uninstall" for the filtering program and remove it if they don't want it.
    If TX is insistant on the "30+ year olds can't figure out how to install it", then pass a law that makes computer sellers ask if the customer wants it installed. Asking is polite, and won't cause as much dispute...

  • Back when the government first passed laws requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets, I heard about people wearing the helmets on their knees. This bill mandates provision of software that automatically blocks or screens indecent material. It doesn't say anything about necessarily letting anything through. Seems to me an off-button, or equivalent software, satisfies the requirement.

  • Well, it is time to start writing my own filtering software. I think I'll make it block And nothing else.

    "But that's crappy filtering software," you say.

    "Yes," I say, "but it's still filtering software."

    Then I'll release the binaries (only) as freeware, and let all my local PC-shops know where to get it.

  • Here [] is a link to a State of Texas server archive of RealAudio recordings of House and Senate Committee meetings. The relevant audio is approx. 3 hrs 36 min into the file. Enjoy!

    The Rep who introduced the bill has very choice comments, basically it appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to his kid seeing pr0n, with no real research into the underlying technology and the problems this bill would cause. 0320p03.ram

  • by the_other_one ( 178565 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @08:25AM (#349794) Homepage

    To purchase a computer without an operating System.

    I'm over 30 but I can download and install Debian.

    Censorware must be really complex.

  • OK, let me suspend my disbelief a little and assume such a bill could become law...

    Yes, OS-less machines should be exempt according to the phrasing. IMHO, another exemption should probably be computers set up for ISP that allow censored subaccounts (like, surprise surprise, AOL). There's no reason to believe an installed censorware would be more effective than an ISP-level one. One could just install CyberPatrol in Mr. Garcia's PC and show him the holes (in more ways than one).

    Then again, his reaction should probably be outrage at the low quality of the software and demand 100% bulletproof porn blocking, with stiff penalties both for the censorware manufacturer, PC seller and...

    The only real "solution" to the "problem" would be to outlaw the Internet in Texas. Shame because I communicate with some nice people in Texas (yes there IS such a thing, believe it or not. I was surprised too.)

  • I'm not aware of any censorware available for Linux, Solaris, BeOS, *BSD, AIX, IRIX, etc.

    Junkbuster! [] All someone has to do is spend 15 minutes writing a script to feed Junkbuster the links from a few of the bigger adult site directories. It's not perfect and it'll have a higher false negative rate than the commercial stuff, but it'll also have a lower false positive rate and it's free.

    Fortunately, the law makes no claims as to how effective the censorware has to be, especially given that the commercial products generally have false negatives, as well.

  • by TrumpetPower! ( 190615 ) <> on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @09:27AM (#349800) Homepage

    Read the bill that the article links to. The bill doesn't just apply to $2000 machines, but to ``each personal computer sold.''

    I've bought a number of $50 machine in my life; three of them (a couple P120s and a 486) are in critical positions in my home network, and have been for more months than I can count. Net Nanny [] retails for $39.95, not $2.

    Why should the price for such computers double for me, an unmarried bachelor of legal age with no kids? Why should I pay for software which I personally not only would never use, but find odious (considering that it's my personal opinion that censorware is one of the worst ways to ``protect'' your children and, yes, you're welcome to have a differing opinion)?

    Why should, say, Motorola, which has a very large presence in the Texas state capial, pay for censorware with every computer they buy when their corporate firewall already does such filtering? (I know this from teaching Internet classes for Motorola to Motorolans.)

    But wait, there's more! ``Software provided in compliance with Subsection (a) must be compatible with any operating system that is provided by the seller to the purchaser of the personal computer at the time of purchase.'' I'm not aware of any censorware available for Linux, Solaris, BeOS, *BSD, AIX, IRIX, etc. A nice little byproduct of the bill will be to make illegal the sales of computers with those operating systems.

    But wait, there's even still more! ``If an operating system is not provided by the seller of the personal computer, the software required under Subsection (a) must be compatible with at least one operating system that may be installed to operate on the computer.'' I can't even buy a Mac SE/30 without an operating system because I'll be installing NetBSD on it, unless there's censorware that'll run on MacOS 7.2

    The bill has no provision for computers outside the mainstream. None whatsoever.

    This is bad legislation. Frankly, Texas needs to be putting its resources into other areas (perhaps cleaning up after W's environmental mess) than keeping kids from seeing bad pictures.


  • by sulli ( 195030 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @08:35AM (#349803) Journal
    How does Texas have authority over computers sold to Texans by out-of-state PC makers? Of course CPQ and DELL are Texas makers, but everyone's favorite PC maker, [] based in California, won't be affected as it's engaged in interstate commerce, clearly the authority of the US Congress.
  • by david duncan scott ( 206421 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @08:48AM (#349817)
    SOFTWARE TO BE INCLUDED WITH SALE OF PERSONAL COMPUTER. (a) A person in the business of selling personal computers shall provide with each personal computer sold by that person software that enables the purchaser of the personal computer to automatically block or screen indecent material on the Internet. (b) Software provided in compliance with Subsection (a) must be compatible with any operating system that is provided by the seller to the purchaser of the personal computer at the time of purchase.
    If an operating system is not provided by the seller of the personal computer, the software required under Subsection (a) must be compatible with at least one operating system that may be installed to operate on the computer.
    (emphasis added)

    So where did the "every personal computer sold with an OS" come from? This reads to me like "every personal computer".

  • I would also be upset if something popped up porn at me...

    I would not be upset by this. :-)

    Well, I guess it depends on what kind of porn.

    ..without me being able to stop it

    Well, okay. I guess after about 20 minutes or so, I would suddenly be ready to stop it and get back to work. Yes, okay, I guess I would be upset too.
  • The Tax on the Censorware. Lemmie see... that'll be under $2, right? Most nerds on /. can easily afford $2000 machines and are whining about paying an extra $2? I'll eat at McDonalds for a lunch instead of a nice restaraunt today. That should cover my next two or three computers if this bill ever passes. I don't mean to troll, but if you are truely a nerd in the computer industry, you *should* be well paid (if not, just look for a job with your qualifications on and see what you could be paid). Whining about $2 on a $2k purchase? Geez...

    1. Not everyone who has or wants or needs a computer is a well paid nerd in the computer industry.

    2. This is as stupid as the federally mandated censorware at public libraries... politicians and nosy incompetent parents trying to make up for their lack of parental/computing skillz.

    3. It may cost the software industry $2.00 but what makes you think they would only charge the consumer $2.00?

    4. This is about stupid laws written to "protect" criminally stupid people...
  • Computer manufactuers don't desire anything be put or not be put on their computers. They want people buy the machines, period. If people are going to buy machines with censorware, they'll install censorware. If people want machines that don't have censorware, they won't. If people want machines that sing the Star Spangled Banner backwards on boot, they'll make machines that do that. Corporations are whores. They're just doing whatver the customer wants for the money.
  • Conspiracy theory #829382: George W. Bush from Texas. Jeb Bush governor of Florida. Hrmmm......
  • But instead of forcing OEMs to install this on computers, why not simply have the gov't subsidize free copies on CD Roms that come with the computer, making sure that the installation instructions are as simply as "follow on screen instructions"?

    The only thing more frightening than your statement was the speed in which your statement was voted up.

    Goverment subsidies only *worsen* the problem. Why are you suddenly requiring taxpayers to pay for the ability of a handful of people to use software?

    More importantly, why does everyone think this is a *great* idea? He's advocating a blatant form of socialism that is set to take money *from* you and pay for censorware. I thought this kind of stuff was frowned upon on /.

    Cost: $50 to $100 million
    People in Texas: 18,673,143 (Source: tml)
    Price per Texan: $2.67 (Rounded DOWN)

    This is a ridiculous amount of money to ask from each Texan. This price includes children, who would not be able to pay this, so you'd have to actually charge *more* than $2.67. And this is for software that you most likely would not end up using.

    Come on people, catch this kind of crap and don't vote it up. Think about it.

  • This is a suprising to hear coming from Texas. I wonder what kinda of reasoning this is. This isn't like the V-Chip where there was an agreed on standard for rating that is used by most if not all stations. This is the lowest common demoninator applied in an inaffectual manner. Most censorware ban entire ISP merely because they allow porn sites to do business with them, when average Joe has no idea his ISP is on that list.

    I wonder if the people of Texas ever heard of something called Market Economics. As time goes on, ISPs and OEMs will compete more and more based on how consumer friendly they are, and people who need censorware will be able to get it with their machine, ISP service, or favorite shrinkwrapped package; pretty much like they can today, except then they will have something that works.

  • by Verteiron ( 224042 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @08:25AM (#349846) Homepage
    This is also another strike against the possible inclusion of Linux preloads on machines, because last I knew there is no censoring software for Linux. Also, aren't Dell and Compaq, two of the biggest PC distributers around, both based in Texas? Since both are "PC Sellers", esp. Dell, who sells direct, won't that affect prices (system+Windows+Censorware) all around the country?
  • I guess you never got to Austin or you would have had a different impression.

    I do get to Austin on occasion, and enjoy it very much. There's a lot to like about Texas to balance that which I dislike, but I don't let my Texas kin know that. I have to keep needling them or they will get an unrealistic picture of their home state.

    OT -- my mom's favorite joke:
    Three men get stuck in an elevator during a power outage and begin talking. Some time into the conversation one of the men says to another "You went to Harvard, didn't you?" The other man responds "Yes, I did. How did you know?" The first man says "Your accent. Unmistakable." The second man then says to the first "You went to MIT, didn't you?" "Why, yes, I did. How did you know?" he responds. "I recognized you from a picture in a journal article." The two men then turn and say to the third "And you went to Texas A&M, didn't you?" He responds "Yes, I did. How did you know?" "We saw your class ring when you were picking your nose."

  • by Krow10 ( 228527 ) <> on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @08:50AM (#349851) Homepage
    This lowers Texas on the list of "states to move to" when my lease runs out.

    What do you mean? The bill hasn't passed.

    What does he mean ``lowers Texas on the list of "states to move to?"''

    WTF was Texas doing on such a list in the first place?

    Everything's bigger in Texas - the hair, the drawl, the delusion that Texas isn't a state full of pig-ignorant rednecks with unjustified superiority complexes.

    -Craig (formerly of Schulenburg, TX)
  • That this isn't much better than MS deciding that all Windows machines much have Internet Explorer preinstalled? I know I don't want the government forcing me to pay for software I don't want and will never use. It's bad enough that MS does it.
  • It'd be a shame if the people at ID couldn't access thier own intranet.

    Trolls throughout history:

  • What if I WANT to view porn with my new computer, and can't figure out how to disable the damn filters? What if I buy a computer, and never connect to the Net? Why would I want that crap on there? What if I want to buy a machine and NOT have to pay for the damn filters?

  • Texas is considering a bill to make being robbed illegal. Alarmed at the rising tide of crime Rep Bob Clueless (R) of Texas has proposed a measure requiring a minimum 5 year sentance and up $50,000 fine for being robbed.
    "If we can remove the victoms of crime from society then the crimanls will have no-one to rob." said Clueless on Wednesday. "The problem now is people can go around being robbed willy-nilly and there is no accountability, we aim to change that."
    The 56 year old Clueless added that people over 30 are "particularly stupid and need constant supervision anyway."

  • This lowers Texas on the list of "states to move to" when my lease runs out.

    What do you mean? The bill hasn't passed.
  • by funwithBSD ( 245349 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @09:09AM (#349867)
    I can confirm the senators assertion. I turned 31 on the 10th and ever since I have been unable to operate a computer properly, nor am I able to log onto the internet without the help of the 28y.o. next door.
    Some thing must be done in the next 3 years to fix this problem or I will be unable to use a computer at all!
    Even after the kind hearted youngen' next door help me get on the net I still had problems.
    I tried patching my FreeBSD box and all it kept saying was "Stop, Dave. I can feel my mind going Dave. Stop."
    Something needs to be done about the sudden loss of computer knowledge at age 31! How will I remain employed when my boss figures out I have forgotten all my Sysadmin knowledge?! Oh wait, he is over thirty as well...
  • by SomeoneYouDontKnow ( 267893 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @11:13AM (#349882)
    From working at an ISP and dealing with the public, I can tell you that there's a lot of willful ignorance about the Internet out there. I say willful because these people don't know much and don't want to know much. They'll ask you questions like, "Why can't I send or receive a 20 meg file via e-mail?" When you attempt to explain that e-mail was never designed for such things and that they ought to be using something like WhaleMail or FTP (God forbid they should even consider FTP) to do these things, they don't want to hear it. I've been told more than once, "Well, I'll just find an ISP that will let me do it." And that's just one example. I really do think that people like this (Rep. Garcia included) think that computers and the Internet are somehow magical, in that it's utterly impossible for the average human being to understand them, so they don't even make the effort to try. Since they personally do not understrand how to accomplish certain tasks such as downloading and installing software, they just assume that no one else can, so it therefore should be done for them. And don't overlook the religious right in all this. Although conservatives like to publicly justify their actions by saying their goal is to protect children, I've always believed this is just a smokescreen. I think their real aim is to do away with whatever they don't want to see or hear, and the "protect our children" line is just a way to make their activities more palatable to the general public. At any rate, a bill such as this would be a way to score some political points with them. Rep. Garcia wouldn't even have to say anything. The people who want everything censored will understand his actions without a word being spoken.
  • by nyteroot ( 311287 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @09:52AM (#349902)
    you know, every single day, i understand better why General William T. Sherman said, "If I owned both Texas and Hell, I'd sell Texas and live in Hell."

!07/11 PDP a ni deppart m'I !pleH