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Censorship Your Rights Online

WorldCom Forced To Block Questionable Sites 532

Cutriss writes "Seen on Wired, this article briefly mentions how the Pennsylvania State Government is forcing UUNet to block access to five child pornography sites, under their new state law. No mention was made as to whether they were domestic or foreign. I'm certainly no fan of kiddie porn, but this ruling also serves as a blow to the 'common carrier' status that any whatever-tiered ISP should have in theory, and in practice. Also, this is a state law, not a federal one, but the end result is nationwide. This isn't a whole lot different from Yahoo! France being sued for making auctions of Nazi propaganda viewable by French citizens."
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WorldCom Forced To Block Questionable Sites

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  • Fix the problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DBordello ( 596751 ) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @03:14PM (#4291504)
    If the sites are domestic why not shut them down rather than restrict constitutional rights? On another note, if they are not domestic, does the person posting them have the freedom to speech? doubt it.
    • What if they're an American living/visiting abroad? Or they have an overseas server?
      The tricky part is we're essentially asking the rest of the world to accept our notion of Freedom of Speech which is really Freedom of Political Speech.
      This doesn't fly too well with most other countries.
      But you're right, the sites should be shut down, wherever they are. I don't think Kiddie Porn is protected anywhere.
    • Uhm, and what constitutional right is being restricted, may I ask? I'm sure you're aware of the fact that the first amendment (freedom of speech) is by no means absolute. With this in mind, kiddie porn definitely doesn't fall under the category of protected speech.
      • Re:Fix the problem (Score:5, Insightful)

        by danheskett ( 178529 ) <> on Thursday September 19, 2002 @03:30PM (#4291706)
        Uhm, and what constitutional right is being restricted, may I ask? I'm sure you're aware of the fact that the first amendment (freedom of speech) is by no means absolute. With this in mind, kiddie porn definitely doesn't fall under the category of protected speech.
        First off, there are a sizable number of people who will gladly argue that in fact the 1st Amendment is absolute - that no other perceived right supercedes it. I would be one of them, but this is vastly irrelevant to this ruling.

        This is a much different issue. The question is does a "common carrier" exisit. UUNEt doesn't host the images. But they do manage a piece of pipe that might maybe be used to access them. Whose responsibility is it to block them? The answer is the ISP closest to the content. Not the carriers in between the viewer and the provider.

        To upset that precedent makes all telecommunications vendors responsible for the contents of the communications issued between users. To do that requires that every company spy on every bit of data that passes its lines. And to do that requires that our right to due process, a redress of grievances, supposition of privacy, and reasonable expectation of privacy be in violate.

        And so, that is the real problem.
        • First off, there are a sizable number of people who will gladly argue that in fact the 1st Amendment is absolute - that no other perceived right supercedes it. I would be one of them, but this is vastly irrelevant to this ruling.

          You really believe that? No speech is ever illegal?


          Inciting a panic? (e.g. yelling fire in a crowded theater)

          There are other examples, but how do you reconcile those two with 'in fact the 1st Amendment is absolute'?
          • Re:Fix the problem (Score:5, Insightful)

            by danheskett ( 178529 ) <> on Thursday September 19, 2002 @04:08PM (#4292088)
            (I really shouldnt have brought that up, but, oh well).

            I really believe that no words, utterances, guttural noises, sound waves, speach patterns, vocal emissions or other speach can ever be illegal under the 1st amendment.

            Legal arguments about interpretation aside, banning speach of any type is stupid.

            Slander laws are stupid. First off, its vague and hard to enforce. Second of all, Slander is often political speach, and more importantly, banning Slander also has a chilling effect on critical speach.

            The problem with your other examples is this: no one is forced to listen to or accept unpopular, stupid, slanderous, or dangerous speach.

            Yet, the government now "protects" us from that. If someone yells "fire" in a crowded theater, you know what? I look around for signs of a fire. I dont run, stampede, etc. No fire, no panic. If there really is a fire, I am glad someone decided to inform me. Elsewise, he's just some jackass.

            Words themselves never hurt, are never dangerous. Associate actions - they are what is dangerous. Instead of restricting patterns of waves moving through the air, we should work on restricting and forming actions.

            Also, I believe the Constitution is a literal document. If you refer to the 1st amendment, you will notice that there are no listed exceptions (as opposed to, say, the 4th amendment with dozens of exceptions).

            The bottom line is this: yes, I believe all speech is protected, no matter its content.
            • i have yelled fire in a crowded theatre, people just look at me weird
            • I would agree with you to the one point. It should be illegal imo to force someone to listen to or accept any speech of any kind.

              Thus people have the freedom of speech, and the freedom to not listen.
            • I agree to a point. I don't think that you should be allowed to a) do something illegal and then b) sell the movie rights or the photographs or the poetry you wrote while doing it. You should be allowed to talk about it, but not for money. Why? Because it rewards the behavior. Our institutions of reform are pretty awful, but to turn around and give someone money for the crime is even worse.

              This extends to exploitation media (be it children, rape, snuff, etc). It should be illegal to sell that media. Should it be illegal to own it? No, I don't think so. It's too easy in this day and age to simply collect all of USENET or download anything from gnutella with an "a" in the name or log every transmission over your corporate gateway. Each of those could be a perfectly legitimate activity which should not be illegal, and yet each of those could also be an attempt to "hide" your true interests (e.g. I might be saving a full USENET spool in order to get access to

              So, if what you're doing is swapping 20-year-old kiddie porn on Gnutella, I can't see why I'd throw you in jail.

              Now, here's the sticky one: what if you run an ISP that doesn't connect to the Internet at all, but rather runs a private network for its customers who do nothing but trade porn. This one I have no idea how to deal with.

              Long term, I think the thing that governments are going to get freaked out by is that we're going to get to the point storage and bandwidth wise wher most people just don't know what's on their hard-drives. Storage media will just become a sort of racial memory. It's not illegal to have seen kiddie porn once in your life, even though that means that it's stored in your memory. What happens when you can put your "memories" up for FTP access? What about the contents of your browser cache that happens to have some pop-up add from a less-than-reputable porn site?

              Heh, things will be getting interesting any minute now!
            • I really believe that no words, utterances, guttural noises, sound waves, speach patterns, vocal emissions or other speach can ever be illegal under the 1st amendment.

              Legal arguments about interpretation aside, banning speach of any type is stupid.

              I, literally, agree with you. But when we deal with things that are not "speech", such as images, actions, printing, or the consequences of speech, it gets fuzzy.

              Photographs of child pornography are, AFAIK, illegal primarily because they cause children to be put into pornographic positions, and secondly because they offend a basic sensability held by nearly all of the country.

              Yelling "fire" in a crowded theater, or slander: Go ahead and speak what you want. When you harm someone through it, and it's not a simple difference of opinion, you've committed a tort and they (not the gov't) can sue you.

              (IIRC, Slander needs to be both believable to a third party and known to be false by the offensee. If I really think that Geroge W. Bush is a flaming homosexual, I can't commit slander by saying that--just as I can't commit slander by saying it if no one would believe me. IANAL.)

              Words themselves never hurt, are never dangerous. Associate actions - they are what is dangerous. Instead of restricting patterns of waves moving through the air, we should work on restricting and forming actions.

              See, you agree with me, and the current law.

              Also, I believe the Constitution is a literal document

              It's a legal document, which has been interpreted to the way that best benefits society by the SC at different times in the country's history.

              The SC has ruled that the 1st amendement is not an aboslute guarantee, and that laws and precedents that cause some speech to leave the speaker liable in certain situations that harm others are not unconstitutional.

              The bottom line is this: yes, I believe all speech is protected, no matter its content.

              My bottom line: You have absolute freedom in your speech, and no common citizen or government can take that from you--but you must live with the consequences of your speech.
            • By your logic, no one should be prosecuted for lying under oath or for committing fraud since "no words, utterances, guttural noises, sound waves, speach patterns, vocal emissions or other speach can ever be illegal under the 1st amendment".

            • Words can't hurt? (Score:3, Informative)

              by El ( 94934 )
              Words themselves never hurt, are never dangerous.

              So if I call you up and tell you I'm coming to your house to kill you, when do you call the police? a) Immediately b) After I get to your house c) After I enter your house d) After I kill you

              Fact is, words DO hurt, if the words constitute a credible threat of violence. That's why we have laws against phone harrasment. You say you were just excercising your free speech rights by repeatedly calling me up a 4AM??? I don't think so, and the law will put you in jail for doing so. You say you should be able to call up random women and talk dirty to them, you're just excercising your free speech rights? Again, the law disagrees with you, and you will go to jail. Sorry, but there is no such thing as an "absolute" right -- even your right to life is forfeited if you demonstrate you are enough of a danger to others.

    • Re:Fix the problem (Score:5, Informative)

      by Stonehand ( 71085 ) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @03:26PM (#4291658) Homepage
      Three bits.

      (1) If they're outside of Pennsylvania, then PA's DA has no jurisdiction, domestic or no.

      (2) The First Amendment does not explicitly stipulate with regards to citizens, non-citizens, permanent residents... Congress shall make no law. Of course, a similarly strict reading might suggest that the XIVth has a loophole with regards to the states, in that it refers explicitly to "privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States".

      (3) An interesting tidbit, perhaps: Attorney Gen. Mike Fisher is the Republican candidate for Governor, and is facing an uphill election battle against Ed Rendell.
      • (1) If they're outside of Pennsylvania, then PA's DA has no jurisdiction, domestic or no.

        Not true. If the sites have customers in PA, then the site is doing business in PA. Hence the PA State Attorney General has jurisdiction. Some would argue if the site is accessed in PA, then the AG has jurisdiction.

        You can also argue federal jurisdiction, if it is found that people accessed the sites in multiple states (i.e. Inter-state commerce and all).

        (2) The First Amendment does not explicitly stipulate with regards to citizens, non-citizens, permanent residents... Congress shall make no law. Of course, a similarly strict reading might suggest that the XIVth has a loophole with regards to the states, in that it refers explicitly to privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.

        If you're suggesting that the sites shut down by the PA AG are protected by the 1st Amendment, you are quite wrong. The Supreme Court has ruled no less than 3 times in the last 10 years on the issue of child pornography. And there is no relief in the Constitution; child pornography in any form is illegal.

        (3) An interesting tidbit, perhaps: Attorney Gen. Mike Fisher is the Republican candidate for Governor, and is facing an uphill election battle against Ed Rendell.

        No argument here. It does sound like Mr. Fisher is looking for some TV time.
  • Most of the sites are outside of the US. Two are is Spain and at least one is in Russia. WorldCom will just null0 the IPs, but, if they are multihomed...
  • by bsharitt ( 580506 ) <bsharitt AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday September 19, 2002 @03:18PM (#4291547) Homepage Journal
    While child pornography should be stopped, this isn't the way to do it. We read articles every day about creative ne censorship and DRM, and the worst thing about these things is that they open the door to a new world of restricted freedoms. A lot of these new restictions won't hurt our freedom in their current state, but it's when the get twisted into a new form that they will become dangerous.
    • Agreed.

      This strategy is much like what happened in Oklahoma a few years back: attempting to declare the 1979 film 'The Tin Drum' obscene and then banning it. (And if I recall, some guy was even arrested in his own house for renting a copy of it. Absurd.)

      Child pornography, of course, is a terrible, terrible thing, but the precedent that this sets is equally terrible (although in a completely different way.)

      If they're doing this, why can't they start arresting and prosecuting Verizon and AT&T for allowing USA-based Al-Queda to talk back and forth? Surely, those six dudes in Buffalo had phone service, and I'll bet they used their phones to talk to each other. Maybe not plot mega-attacks, but at least to chit-chat and laugh at the latest Simpsons episode.

      Or maybe terrorists don't "dig" the Simpsons. Just another example of American excess. Or American vulgarity. Or whatever it is that people are decrying America for these days.

      And besides -- one final comment -- isn't WorldComm already in enough trouble as it is? Why don't they go after the sites themselves?

      • by Lulu of the Lotus-Ea ( 3441 ) <> on Thursday September 19, 2002 @05:33PM (#4292882) Homepage
        Kelso Lundden commented in a fashion similar to a number of other posters:

        Child pornography, of course, is a terrible,
        terrible thing...

        I agree with the general sentiment of Lundden's note, but I think the above needs to be questioned. It is not a simple thing to determine what it is that is "child pornography".

        -MOST- of what is prosecuted as "child pornography" really IS NOT a terrible thing. Under US Federal law--and I am sure PA is no better--a 24 y.o. dressed in a "schoolgirl" outfit to "simulate" a minor makes for child porn. You might say that that's not "really" child porn... but on the LAW, you'd be plain wrong. Likewise, parent taking pictures of their small children bathing, swimming, or running around the lawn, have been prosecuted and imprisoned for producing "child pornography." Or even in the case that is -borderline- reasonable, a 16-17 y.o. who is of the age-of-consent to have sex in his/her state, becomes the "victim" of child pornographers if her/his partner (who might be 16-17 too) takes a picture of the act. I might say that this last case is maybe, slightly bad--but certainly also far short of "terrible." Or still more: someone who draws a picture--entirely from imagination--of kids having sex, produces child porn... and likewise even if those drawings are just "suggestive."

        Moreover, even by the incredibly loose standard that images (and words) get classified as "child porn"... the PA action doesn't bother to demonstrate that the banned sites ACTUALLY meet the weak threshhold. They just order material banned... no hearing, no trial, no evidentiary trail. Just a lone declaration by an AG that "I know that's what it is."
    • It'll be intersting when in 5 years we see the underground return to web press and cut-n-paste jobs in order to practice the rights guaranteed to us via the Constitution. After all not much DRM involved in typeset, hand-operated presses. Maybe we'll even see a new Tom Paine arise.

      Whatever happened to "The Match"?

      I guess things really do go in cycles.
  • by KoopaTroopa ( 549540 ) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @03:18PM (#4291548) Homepage
    Perhaps they should also shut down the phone lines to prevent people from dialing up to the internet at all. That would block "questionable sites" for a large portion of the state.

    I hate kiddie porn as much as the next person, but imposing censorship over what an internet provider can deliver (only at the request of the user, keep in mind,) is a terrible thing in my view.

    If this stands, it will open the door for many similar situations to arise.

    • by Samrobb ( 12731 ) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @04:22PM (#4292256) Homepage Journal

      The point of this legislation is not to solve a problem - it is the there to provide the government a reason to treat someone as a criminal.

      In this case, that "someone" happens to be a legal entity (ISP) instead of an actual person.

      Note that the important thing about the legislation is not that it is used, but that it simply exists. It is now trivial to set up a situation where any ISP in PA can be charged with criminal activity, and either fined out of existance, or bludgeoned into accepting whatever "arrangements" the government wants to make in order to prevent similar "crimes" in the future... installation of Carnivore systems, for example.

      There's an added bonus, too: if you oppose this legislation, well then - you must be some sort of sick, twisted, kiddie porn lover then, right? I mean, there's absolutely no other reason to be against this sort of thing. After all - it's for the children.

  • Well (Score:2, Insightful)

    by GigsVT ( 208848 )
    A lot of people have blasted the people in the past for overreacting to YRO stories. I hope that in the last year people have woken up to just how fragile freedom really is.

    The precedent that this sets is really bad. It means that it's all downhill from here. If ISPs are blocking one type of "illegal bytes", then why should they allow another type?

    Consorship is not some theoretical thing, it is real, alive, and something that threatens everything that the USA is supposed to stand for.

    To all those that didn't vote Libertarian, to all those who don't know their representative's name, to all those who don't care, so long as they can drink their beer, eat their pizza, and play with their tech toys.... This is your doing.
    • I don't vote Libertarian, and this is NOT my fault. The Libertarian Party does not have a monopoly on concerns for personal freedoms.
      • If you voted for someone who is -FOR- this kind of crap, then yes, it IS your fault.
        If you did not vote AT ALL, then -YES- it IS your fault.

        Just fucking vote, dammit.
        • ARGH! I didn't say I didn't vote, either! I *always* vote, thankyouverymuch.
          • *grin* Didn't say that you, specifically, didn't vote.

            As it is, a lot of the folks who gripe, don't. You want a say in how the future of the US (and yes, the world) looks? Get out and vote. Then, get your likeminded friends (who don't vote) and get -them- to vote. If it means putting together a couple of carpools, than -DO IT-.

  • Dont really know how to take this one, If its a domestice site it needs to be shut down. If its not domestic I am not really sure what to do. I do believe in freedom of speech, and even very offensive sick speech.

    the problem is that KP damages kids for life. Though the implication of this are not that big because this is at the state level (as it should be).

    I would expect a court case soon to see if this confilct with the first amendment, if not i clearly falls under the 10th..

  • Won't this law then enable the whole "Your blocking these kiddy porn sites, why no block these warez sites?". Basically isn't this law now removing the protection granted over what is transmitted over the lines? By no longer getting unresponible for what is being transmitted I can see many companies sueing if they don't like what's being transfered. This will cause packet filtering at every router, hell I can see the RIAA and MPAA trying to get the routers to determine if whats being transfered is a copyrighted song or movie. My suggestion is for WorldCom to completely avoid this new legislation by stopping all service in Penncilvania. Having all their citizens bitching should get this law overruled pretty quickly.
    • There's a difference between blocking illegal material (child porn and warez) and blocking legal material. If someone set up a TV station and aired child porn 24/7, you wouldn't expect that to go unnoticed, would you?

      Frankly, if I was an ISP, I wouldn't want those files anywhere near my servers and wouldn't wait for legislation to comepl me to block known sites.

  • by bwt ( 68845 ) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @03:22PM (#4291600) Homepage
    'common carrier' status that any whatever-tiered ISP should have in theory, and in practice

    I don't think ISP's like UUNET have ever been considered common carriers, nor do I think they want to be. They regularly engage in content based filtering of spam all the time.
  • Fascist, stupid (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 19, 2002 @03:23PM (#4291621)
    Hell, I'm no fan of Microsoft or the RIAA, but that doesn't mean I think their sites should be blocked.

    If you start blocking sites because you don't like what's in them (or because you think it will "offend" other people), where do you stop? Should you block sites that show dead iraqi children because it doesn't benefit the US's image? Should you block christian sites because they might offend some muslims?

    Instead of blocking these sites, they should go after people who exploit and kill children. Hiding a problem won't make it go away, it'll only make people less aware of it land less likely to solve it. If children are being exploited I think people should see it with their own eyes, and get mad, and do something about it.

    Websites don't appear magically in my browser. To find something, I have to deliberately look for it (unless it's penis enlargement, pills, of course). I definitely don't need - or want - the state to "protect" me.

    • Do you really think that when they (the gov't) shut down a child porn site that they just tell the web host to terminate the accoutn and they persue it no further? Obviously, they go after the person.
      Child pornography isn't illegal because it's offensive (that's part of the reason). It's mostly because of the exploitation of children. I seriously doubt any six year old would voluntarily pose nude without being coerced into it. When that kid becomes 18, then he or she can decide that. Until then, the law is there to protect kids, not "limit speech".
  • HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania -- WorldCom, the bankrupt long-distance voice and data services company, was ordered by a judge to deny access to five child pornography sites to its Pennsylvania customers, the state Attorney General said Wednesday.

    The block isn't nationwide, it's for Pennsylvania. I'll admit it might be tricky to implement and they may just say to hell with it and block the sites nationwide. And so what? How is blocking some kiddie porn sites affecting our rights? I think we need to take these type of things in context.

    We're not opening a Pandora's box that will allow a NY senator to shut down a CA homepage that has some negative opinions of them on it. It's child porn! It's not like there's a state in the US that says it's legal. If every state went ahead and had to file a motion against WorldCom to block the same 5 sites, then everyone would be upset that so much money was wasted.

    Choose your battles wisely.
    • Yes, of course its kiddie porn, and we all want that stopped, however, consider other things besides kiddie porn.

      What if Idaho desides anything that show a breast is wrong, and forces WorldCom to block all tjose sites? WorldCom would be forced to do it nationaly, even though 49 other states don't find it offensive.

      or, what is another stae decided that people were considered a minor until they where 21?
      • I understand what you're saying but I just don't think it's worth getting worried or upset yet.

        If/when that stuff happens, the flak from the other states should be enough to cause some sort of reform within the system regarding censorship on the Internet. That battle is going to happen eventually. It's better to get it out of the way sooner rather than later, but this isn't the battle, that's all I'm saying.

        Who's to say that by going the other way and saying certain providers aren't liable for anything could have plenty of negative results too.
    • So then, should the states be in the business of blocking every website that deal with activities that are, in that state, illegal? How about immoral? Sounds like quite an undertaking.

      Sounds like the Internet Age version of book burning to me.

    • It's child porn! It's not like there's a state in the US that says it's legal.

      Trafficking in circumvention devices is illegal too. Does this mean I can no longer buy my Sharpies from Opening the door to one type of censorship is just asking for trouble, no matter what it is that you're censoring.
    • Well, censorship is always dangerous. The problem is, once censorship exists - even if you agree with the selection criteria - how do you you verify that they are just censoring that? You have no means of control.

      Censorware is already censoring stuff which does not match the topics which it claims to be censoring. In some cases due to incompetence, in others due to malice.

      The other objection I have is: developing ways to censor information is dangerous in itself. This technology will find their way into the hands of repressive regimes eventually, and be used to prevent their citizens from having access to free information. Stabilizing these regimes has a very real cost in human life, too.

      I don't want these sites operating either - but wouldn't it have made a lot more sense to contact the authorities in Spain and Russia, and get those servers shut down?

  • The right way is a supeona the ISP asking for a list of customers who have downloaded kiddie porn from these websites. Prosecute under existing laws. The listed website could even be used as valuable tools (bait) in ferreting out criminals likely to cause harm to children.

    The wrong way is for government to get in the business of blocking anything. I reserve the right to decide what I look at on the web, and accept in trade the resopnsibility for what I choose to look at on the web.

    Judicial review is a wonderful thing.
  • Common Carrier? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 19, 2002 @03:30PM (#4291701)
    Common carrier laws (as I understand them) say that you can carry anything and not look at the content, but if someone calls attention to a specific communication as being illegal, you *must* now act on it. So since kiddie porn is illegal, and since UUNet has been told they're carrying it... No one is asking them to *look* for kiddie porn, they've been told *exactly* where it is. Sorry - that's not censorship, that's enforcement of the law.
  • This is no different then what happened to the Amateur Action Bulletin Board's owners back in the early 1990's. They ran a BBS out of California, yet were charged (and went to jail because the BBS could be accessed from other states whose political tolerance for dirty pictures wasn't that of California.
    Many states have always tried (and succeeded) to have jurisdiction over the citizens of other states...just ask anyone who's been involved in a divorce that crossed state lines.
  • Censoring child porn? The very idea sickens me. Do people honestly think the problem is going to go away if we just put the blinders on?

    The more people know about these atrocities the better. What we need to do is go after the damn perverts and shut them down for good.

    Censorship is the ultimate hypocricy.
  • this is a WHOLE lot different than Yahoo France. That law was instituted by France, not by a part of France.

    Other countries allow what we consider child pronography (.nl for instance allows 16 year olds to pose nude and have sexual intercourse and be of legal age to do so, whereas in the US we do not allow such behavior until 18).

    I am starting to see a bit of pressure being exerted by state and local governments which overthrows the US Government (see CA and their pot distribution from City Hall b/c of a recent bust of a pot collective by Federal agents).
  • I can't believe this shit. Maybe being a new father is making me over-zelous but if someone said to me that I had to give up internet privliges forever but it would me that just one child would be spared going through that, I'd give it up, all of it, and sleep like a king that night.
  • by Agent Green ( 231202 ) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @03:44PM (#4291835)
    Though I can't point out specific names, this is how it's done and has been coordinated with PA:

    1.) State of PA submits a URL and IP address which is verified to be a kiddie-porn site. Note: The burden of proof and maintainence of the information is left to the state and they are responsible for providing all the information. This way, the ISP in question isn't stuck playing kiddie-port cop.

    2.) The IP address of the offending URL is globally null-routed across the provider's backbone using two redundant null-route servers.

    3.) The IP is recorded along with the URL in a flat file for reference and tracking.

    4.) The null route stays in place as long as necessary, currently indefinitely.

    I'd post the list for all the sick bastards that visit Slashdot, but I don't want to get fired. :)

    Anyway, this is no big deal and can be implemented with very little overhead if negotiated properly. UUnet certainly has the resources to pull this off...since there are other providers that are doing the same thing.
    • What happens when... (Score:4, Informative)

      by swb ( 14022 ) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @04:12PM (#4292141)
      [I'll go out on a limb and presume some of the following, none of which may be true now but much of which may be true in the future.]

      4.) The null route stays in place as long as necessary, currently indefinitely.

      Indefinitely is a long time. Let's say that the IP is part of a Tier 4 providers CIDR /19. Let's further say that they got that /19 from their parent provider's /16.

      The reason you could run a KP site on the original tier 4 provider's network is that they're damn near out of business and nobody cared about AUPs or about much of anything. The KP site kills the business, and the provider's /19 goes back to the Tier 3 provider.

      They re-slice it into /24s or whatever. Now, I go to use my new /24 at my new provider and my router, running the blocked IP, can't talk to anything. Anyway, indefinitely is a long time -- is there any way to overcome it? Does anybody periodically check it? I'd hate to think that there's a bunch of null0 routes in some backbone router that nobody can remember why they're there...

    • not knowing much about routers, what is the max number of IP's that can be banned ? Seems like a way to defeat this would be to have SO many banned IP's that it overloaded whatever (undoubtedly limited) memory there was for routes.
  • by 9jack9 ( 607686 ) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @03:51PM (#4291903)
    According to the article: "Since the law went into effect on April 22, 2002, Internet service providers have blocked access to more than 200 websites containing child pornography, Pennsylvania Attorney General Mike Fisher said."

    I am not in favor of child pornography. I suspect the great majority of people aren't. It is a terrible very bad thing. And even if we all can't agree that it is a bad thing, it is illegal.

    But . . . how do we know what they are blocking? Who decides if it is child pornography? What is to prevent the authorities from expanding this? What if someone posted a URL of a site alleged to be child pornography on slashdot, and so the authorities decided to block slashdot because it "contains links to child pornography".

    And . . . how soon before the legislation is expanded to sites alleged to include music files or program files. And what about sites that traffic in encrypted data? We'd better block those, too, because who knows what is being hidden in that encryption? And what about sites that question the policies and actions of the government? After all, any site that attacks the government may well be abetting terrorism, and fighting terrorism is even more important than fighting child pornography.

    Face it, people. Our "unalienable" rights are as fragile as tissue paper. It requires constant vigilence to see that they are not eroded. We need to find a different way to fight child porn.

    • I'm usually not a fan of censorship but this seems to be a direct parallel of legislation that keeps hard-core porn off drug store magazine racks. If Pennsylvania officials extend blocking and annoy voters, then the voters can turn them out of office, if it's that big a deal for them. That's the real arbiter of "who decides".

      I also wouldn't be surprised to see increased blocking of sites hosting copywritten music files and the like.

      I fear we are moving toward a system that prohibits Internet distribution of executable and binary files unless they've been vetted and shown to pose no security -- information and national -- threat.
  • by reallocate ( 142797 ) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @03:54PM (#4291935)
    Radio and TV bandwidth is considered common carrier because it is impossible to own a piece of the broadcast spectrum. Instead, in the U.S. at least, the airwaves are held to be owned by the public, with the FCC charged by Congress to allot frequencies, license stations, etc.

    You can't make that argument about the Internet, which is built on a hodge-podge of real cabling and hardware that's all owned by an equal hodge-podge of corporations and entities. If posssessing certain materials is illegal, why should a private holder of a chunk of the Internet -- like an ISP -- not be subject to that law re: illegal files on his hardware?

  • .

    ...for the lawsuit filed by some law enforcement agency in another state against WorldCom or some other ISP because it is blocking an IP to a website that MUST be printed out as EVIDENCE in a prosecution.

    Yes, I am giddy over this one.

  • It might be worth noting that the AG involved is also running for Governor in PA.

    Then again, it might be irrelevant.

  • by Quixadhal ( 45024 ) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @04:18PM (#4292210) Homepage Journal
    Got your attention, did I? Got your flamethrowers all fired up and ready? Good. (Call it a TROLL if you want, but not until you read the rest of it, eh?)

    First of all, I'd like to see some proof that the alleged "kiddie porn" really involved minors. If it did, then those responsible should be thrown in jail and the keys should be lost. I have no wish to see anyone go though that kind of abusive hell.

    The reason I say this is that the definition of child pornography is probably not the same as what most people think when they hear the term. I suspect the image that jumps to mind for MOST people is of very young (less than 10 years old) kids, but that's usually not what's being targeted. By definition, it is any act of a sexually explicit nature (including suggestive poses, but NOT simple nudity) involving a person under the legal age of majority (which is generally 18, but varies from place to place). Think about that. How many of you know people in their 20's who still get carded at the bar? How many 19 year-olds could pass for 14 or even younger if they have the right anatomy, makeup and lighting? For that matter, how many 14 year-olds are well-developed enough to pass for 17 or 18 at a glance?

    Add to this the incredible advances in digital image processing, and you might realize that it's not THAT hard to make someone look far younger than they are. Even childlike. So, if the people in the images were not underage, or perhaps not even real (fully computer generated images are not impossible), whose rights have been violated?

    Secondly, and MORE IMPORTANTLY, where will this end? Today, a bunch of people make laws to force ISP's and backbone providers to block horrible kiddie porn and keep everyone safe from the horror. Next year, a bunch of other people decide that it's important to block access to information regarding nuclear materials, explosives, or other terrorist paraphenalia, on the grounds that it allows and encourages Terrorist Activities and is a threat to National Security... and this censorship has a precedant, the blocking of kiddie porn.

    A bit later, information about the principles of nuclear fission, operation of automatic weapons, the history of the middle east are censored or "adjusted" to make them safe for consumption by the public. This is done under the guise of further efforts in the War On Terrorism, and earlier rulings are used to show that these too are perfectly legal, as they are nearly identical to the prior bans.

    In one generation, we could very easily lose the one thing that so many people in the last 200 years have fought and died for... freedom. If you let them take the little things now, you can be sure they'll take bigger things later, until you have nothing left.

    Once upon a time, I could walk into a library anywhere in the country and sit down to research any topic I was curious about. I would have no fear of persecution (other than raised eyebrows from the library staff, perhaps), and would be content in the knowledge that even if someone tried to bury my work or hide the truth, at least the law protected my right to ask questions (even if the answers were classified).

    Then came the DMCA. Now, asking the wrong questions might land you in the circumvention camp, and curiosity might earn you jail time. Next, an unfortunate terrorist attack allows the door to swing open on Homeland Security -- talking too loudly about the wrong things might land you in the conspiracy to commit acts of terror camp, in which case you might disappear for a long time. Now, I'm being "protected" from things that tend to distrub "most" people. If I happen to stumble across an image of a naked little girl running from a burning building, SOMEONE might decide that it's porn and so I can no longer see that historical print from a war that was fought before I knew what "war" meant.

    Do we *REALLY* want to go back to the idea of Government Approved Information? Is it really more comforting to know that anything you read, see, or hear has been sanitized by Uncle Sam to be sure you don't see anything upsetting? Is everyone THAT thin-skinned, that we have to hide behind lawyers, lobbyists, and laws?

    The distribution of kiddie porn is NOT the problem. The creation of it IS. Let's stop making laws that do a poor job of curing the symptom and try enforcing already existing laws that might cure the sickness. Go after the people MAKING the stuff!
  • by techstar25 ( 556988 ) <techstar25 @ g m a i> on Thursday September 19, 2002 @04:22PM (#4292258) Journal
    It's those damn Amish!

    But seriously, folks, people still don't understand what the internet is. To force an ISP to block access to certain sites, is like forcing AT&T to block who I can call on the phone. Hey, maybe my friend is a pedophile, but if I want to phone him and say "Hi", I have the right to do that. In this case accessing the kiddie porn is like calling up a friends computer and saying "Hi. Can I have some bits?". No different. When all those entreprenuers thought they understood the internet and invested in dot-coms, we laughed, because we knew it wouldn't last. But now, the idiots who don't understand the internet are our politicians. And dont' tell me this issue is about porn, because it isn't, that's just what the grey-haired politicians want us to think.
  • If someone could come up with a telephone number that meets the state's statutes, then perhaps they could sue the land-line and wireless services to block calls to that number. Wouldn't that be a hoot?

    I'd be surprised if Worldcom doesn't fight this one.
  • by phorm ( 591458 ) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @04:35PM (#4292392) Journal
    Wouldn't it be better to do this:
    Have law enforcement set up mirror sites, and have the IP redirect to these instead of blocking the KP sites. Then, when the idiot kiddy-lover signs up using his credit card *bam* firstname, lastname, he's ready to fry.
  • The issue here is larger than just the kiddie porn. The issue is your right to access whatever information you want.

    So, today they decide to block access to certain child porn sites. Okay. CP is gross and disgusting.

    Then they decide that they don't like people looking at bukkake and jap scat. Well, both of those are pretty nasty. Can't argue too much with that.

    Then they ban all access to gay porn. Well, I'm not fan of gay porn, so it doesn't effect me at all. Life goes on.

    Then they ban all porn, even Hey! I like some of that more "normal" stuff! Give it back, damnit!

    Then they decide that they are going to block sites that espouse radical political views that they don't like. Well, I don't like some of those fringe groups, but I want to read Jesse Ventura's homepage! Damnation!

    Then they ban any sites that might be distuirbing tio any child anywhere. Great. 90% of the Internet just vanished.

    Then they banish anything they don't like at all. Even some of teh kid-friendly sites (you know that girl from "So Wierd" is just a bit too developed for young boys to be looking at, have to protect them from those naughty thoughts, you know...). And the Net disapears forever.

    That, Dear Friends is the issue. They will always go for the most extreme cases first, the material that no one wants to stand up and defend. After they get the legal precident, they go after everything they don't like.

    The correct solution is to go after the creators and sellers of child porn. Not to open the Pandora's box they are playing with.

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken