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Censorship The Internet

Utah Considers Forcing ISPs to Filter Content 508

tipsymonkey writes "Cnet is running an article on how the Utah governor is considering signing a law that forces ISPs to filter content deemed harmful to minors. This would apply to large scale ISPs like AOL as well. They have until March 22 to decide whether or not to sign this into law."
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Utah Considers Forcing ISPs to Filter Content

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  • FCC ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by liquidpele ( 663430 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @01:22PM (#11853064) Journal
    Ummm... isn't this the FCC's job?
    I didn't know states were allowed to censor media...
  • ...'harmful'.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by raydobbs ( 99133 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @01:22PM (#11853070) Homepage Journal
    There's that nice and vague word - harmful. Who gets to decide what's harmful? Their parents? The head of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals? The local Nazi political party? The Parent Teacher Association? The local DFL?

    No thanks - I want to be able to have unfettered access - and just teach my OWN kids where they don't want to go. It's called PARENTING!
  • by Deekin_Scalesinger ( 755062 ) * on Saturday March 05, 2005 @01:23PM (#11853076)
    If this does come into law, the easiest thing might be for ISPs to bundle a version of NetNanny or the like into its offering. It does allow parents to block sites or groups of sites, and people who don't wish this could disable this. Better than upstream filtering IMO - actaully, the best thing is for this to not happen at all, but the world keeps spinning on in this direction it seems...
  • by pnewhook ( 788591 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @01:23PM (#11853087)

    This is the start of a short and slippery slope into censorship. The government should have no night to dictate what I can and cannot see or read.

  • by liquidpele ( 663430 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @01:24PM (#11853094) Journal
    anything anti-mormon will get thrown in... bet you $100 bucks.
  • Oh bs. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by iibbmm ( 723967 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @01:25PM (#11853106)
    Most ISP mail filters can't block out 'enhance your p3n15' emails, yet they are supposed to start filtering out naughty images and content? First ammendment applications aside, this is an exercise in futility.
  • by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @01:27PM (#11853130) Homepage
    If this does come into law, the easiest thing might be for ISPs to bundle a version of NetNanny or the like into its offering.

    Sure, for ISPs, but what about (as the article talks about) wifi cafes? Should they give out free copies of netnanny to anyone who's browsing? Or should they have a netnanny installation (with a wholly seperate login server)?

  • by sgant ( 178166 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @01:28PM (#11853139) Homepage Journal
    It's politicians pounding their chests and showing their people that "see, I'm trying to do something"...yet they KNOW this will never fly past the Supreme Court. I mean, come on.

    It's like when everyone was trying to pass a law making it illegal to burn the American flag. Of COURSE this would get shot down by the Courts, yet it looks great when re-election comes back around and they get to say "see, I was all for a ban on blah blah blah".

    Say what you will on how the Supreme Court will change and then it will start passing these laws, but so far, even the conservative judges can see how un-constitutional these idiot laws are.

    Cause it comes down to this...who decides what's "harmful"?

    It's BS and yes, it will get shot down. No one will stand for this....and please, don't give me "oh yeah, just wait" crap. That's all speculation.
  • Crazy Utah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fsterman ( 519061 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @01:28PM (#11853141) Homepage
    This is totally impossible. Utah has a track record of passing laws and fogetting about the constitution. They "traded" a public section around the temple to the LDS church. The church put in all kinds of money to revamp the area and in exchange no one could swear or talk shit about the church in the area. It was deemed a violation of the constitution and everyone was pissed that they had put in all this money and have a silly little thing called "rights" come in and skrew everything up.

    The US (or some state) already tried to pass a law that required a warning that anything not suitible for children on the internet required a warning. The ACLU stopped it quick.

    This is just some conservative trying to get more votes by proposing an impossibly unconstitutional law. Like when they tried to pass the law that it was okay to display the 10 commandments in schools. They know it is totally illegal, but gets them a lot of press and cred with their voters.
  • by sanpitch ( 9206 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @01:28PM (#11853146)
    From the article: The measure, S.B.260, says: "Upon request by a consumer, a service provider may not transmit material from a content provider site listed on the adult content registry." A service provider is defined as any person or company who "provides an Internet access service to a consumer." Seems like you can still get your porn if you want it. The real question is the rating system discussed later on. Who will have to rate their content? Utah companies or everyone?
  • Re:Does the - (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @01:29PM (#11853149) Journal
    The legislature can pass what laws it likes. The courts can then strike them down when they are challenged.

    Given the rulings of the Supreme Court, this would be a trivial case for even the lowest courts to strike down, barring an "activist judge".

    The system is working as it is intended to. Panic when the Supremem Court (or even the relevant Circuit Court) upholds it, which won't happen. You can't keep stupidity out of the system, you can only build a system robust enough to handle it when it happens.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @01:32PM (#11853182) Homepage
    There are "filtered ISPs", like Christian Purity []. They're not very successful.

    There's "AOL Broadband for Kids", if you want that.

    So the free market has this covered. And nobody buys.

  • Re:C'mon, folks. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by miskatonic alumnus ( 668722 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @01:40PM (#11853247)
    It gives parents the ability to better control the content their children consume and we would all be better off to have such a thing implemented in our ISPs.

    I disagree. I don't have displays of cigarettes, liquor, and porno magazines in my home. Nevertheless, I am quite certain that when my children reach their teen years, if they desire those things they will be able to get them through their friends or their friends' parents who may be more lax about such things.

    This legislation will not solve any problems. Truly concerned parents need to have an open relationship with their children, and TALK with them about these things.
  • by Viceice ( 462967 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @01:45PM (#11853288)
    I second that. If Utan wants no offending material, they may as well cut themselves out of the net completely.

    All the laws and filters and we still can't stop spammers, what makes them think that short of blocking everything, they can stop "harmful" content?

    It's prohibition all over again.
  • by Maul ( 83993 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @01:46PM (#11853299) Journal
    It is not the ISP's responsibility to ensure that junior doesn't see pr0n.

    There are several consumer software products which are relatively inexpensive that do the job of filtering web content. Hell, many companies bundle this in with their consumer firewall software. If parents desire web content filtering, they should be able to go to the store and buy software that will do the job.

    No government, at any level, should be forcing the ISP to do the job of the parents.
  • by Taladar ( 717494 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @01:47PM (#11853311)
    Mh, another argument FOR cutting them off.
  • by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @01:48PM (#11853322)
    I do consider this very law "harmful to minors" as it introduces blatant anti-free speech propaganda.
  • Who decides (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @02:00PM (#11853407) Homepage Journal
    You're obviously not old enough to remember when this kind of censorship was the norm. When I was in college, I knew a guy (bookstore clerk) who got arrested for selling a Richard Crumb [] comic book. Charges dropped when the store agreed to stop selling the comic.

    To answer your question: Back then, judges decided what didn't meet "community standards" for "decency", based on testimony from "community leaders". The above concepts no longer carry much weight. So I'd expect some state regulatory agency to trot out psychologists and other "experts" who would claim that small kids who see porn will grow up to be rapists and serial killers.

    Anyway, I agree with you: this is a job for parents. Who would be better served by tracking and controlling [] their kids internet usage, instead of leaving it up to some unreliable ISP filter. It's ironic that conservative groups whine about "big government", but never hesitate to call for more intrusive government action when it suits their agenda.

  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @02:04PM (#11853430) Journal
    What I'd like to know is why governments in the US persist in passing laws they must surely know will not survive a Constitutional challenge? Why do they waste taxpayer money on this? Maybe Utah should be more worried about the Mormon-splinter groups that swap children around between dirty old men who already have five or six wives.
  • by miskatonic alumnus ( 668722 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @02:14PM (#11853503)
    If you realllly want to protect your children from the big bad mean old world full of ads and porn, I suggest you don't tell the government about them and keep them locked up in the home without internet access, telephone, video games, radio, music, art, TV, books, newspapers, or anything else with information in it. All that stuff corrupts them, you know. Family members and friends can corrupt them too --- keep 'em in the basement --- in the dark. They'll be just fine.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2005 @02:17PM (#11853535)
    blah, blah, blah, Mussilini, blah, trains, blah, time.

    Same shit, different day.
  • by xSauronx ( 608805 ) <> on Saturday March 05, 2005 @02:31PM (#11853637)
    my guess is they do it because at election time, people will vaguely remember that the politicians were trying to protect kids....but forgot that they wanted to trample over common sense and the constitution to do it.

  • Questioning the sanity of Utah leaders is close to the real issue.

    It is not necessary to be intelligent to get elected. It is only necessary to be popular. Many politicians have very little analytical ability. In this case, they can't see all the reasons this idea won't work.

    Note to political leaders: Avoid embarrassment! Whenever you are considering a law involving computers, have Slashdot make it a story first. Hundreds of thousands of Slashdot readers will gladly tell you if there are problems with your idea. It's free, and it's quick. You will get at least 500 comments in 24 hours, if your idea is especially embarrassing. Many of the comments will be useless, but there are a lot of very smart Slashdot readers.
  • by isny ( 681711 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @02:34PM (#11853659) Homepage
    You could filter out the ENTIRE internet except for one, blank white page, and someone would accuse you of being racist. Ok, if you make it blue, they will accuse you of being anti-linux. Red? Commie! Yellow? Well, I guess I am chicken...
  • Re:Crazy Utah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @02:36PM (#11853678) Journal
    First of all, it's not universally agreed that it is murder.

    Second of all, SCOTUS decided there was an inherent right to privacy. I know this is very tough for people who believe their religious beliefs ought to be equal to the law of the land (basically theocratic rule), but that's the way it is. IF you wish to turn the US into another Iran, where Christian Ayatollahs decide what can be seen on the Internet, what women can do with their bodies, and who knows what else, then I feel very sorry for you. I pity a culture that has so forgotten its roots that it actually wants to emulate some of the worst attrocities that religious bigotry can bring.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2005 @02:43PM (#11853735)
    >They just can't shout out to all of the people about things that the church deems inappropriate.

    That reveals the heart of that long impassioned post.

    We aren't against freedom of speech! We're just against certain speech -- if you say the things we want, we're a good, kind, freedom loving church. :)
  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @02:56PM (#11853827) Journal
    It's very difficult to line up US society as it currently is with that society that the Founding Fathers wanted to create. Heck, some of the big ones like Thomas Jefferson weren't even Christians, and found some of the notions of Christianity quite outrageous. Unfortunately young Johnny isn't going to hear about Jefferson's deism in school, or about the reasons why the Founding Fathers thought separation of Church and State was so important.

    I can only conclude at this point that there are individuals who are attempting to destroy the barriers between their religious beliefs and the law of the land. Not being an American, to a certain extent it's more of an academic observation. Certainly if the majority of the citizens of the US think it's okay for churches to be used as electoral tools for political parties, then I guess that's what will happen.

    But make no mistake, the current batch of wanna-be theocrats are betraying the high and noble ideals of the Founding Fathers. The country they want to create is precisely the kind of country that many English noncomformists fled. They want to turn back the clock, to create a society where the Enlightenment never happened.

  • Re:Crazy Utah (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Haertchen ( 810148 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @03:05PM (#11853907)
    The above post should never have been modded insightful. The issues are a lot less clear-cut than he described, and unsurprisingly, what is discussed is the worst possible description.

    What happened is that Salt Lake City sold a part of Main Street to the Mormon church. As far as I know, a city selling property to a private institution is perfectly legal. Thus the main street plaza is now *private property* and the restrictions on free speech are the same restriction you can impose on anyone who you invite into your house, i.e. you can ask them to leave for any reason at any time.

    The problem popped up when the city tried to maintain an easement on the property, allowing the general public access to the property 24/7/365/indefinitely. (I think there are contraints on when private property can be open, or how long, or something.) The UCLA sued, saying that if the public was to be given any government-sanctioned access at all, they should have all rights they have on city-owned property (which have never been questioned in the entire process, I might add!) The Denver circuit court agreed, so the Mormon church again *sold* the easement back to the city, making the plaza exclusively *private property*.

    Now I might add that there is another lawsuit coming up, claiming that the whole deal was unconstitutional (separation of church and state). I'm not sure what its current status is, but I doubt in practice it will change anything.

    Referring to this issue as religion against rights is unfair. It is rights against rights: Once the Mormon church owns the property, what rights to they have in regard to behavior? Does the city have the right to deal with the Church, to sell it property? Civil rights on public property have been completely untouched by the brou-haha, which means that there will still be people yelling obscenities, screaming, holding offensive posters (they're offensive to me!), passing out flyers and so forth at the next church-wide meeting. That hasn't changed.

    I'm not going to defend the idea of keeping the ten commandments on governement property. I will just note that fifty years ago, the issue wouldn't have come up. It was considered constitutional after almost 200 years of the constitution. The vast majority of people who would have discussed the issue would have come to exactly opposite the conclusion that you state. This doesn't make it right. It just means that if people oppose you on an issue, it may not be quite as obvious as you think. Despite what people seem to think, the constitution has changed drastically in recent years, by virtue of interpretation rather than wording. Much that is now unconstitutional was commonplace.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2005 @03:52PM (#11854152)
    step 6: move from the US.

    If this is the world they want, let them have at it. I refuse to try and convince someone who believes a magic fairy pretend god has solely enlightened them on how the world should be run, and everything contrary is the work of the devil.

    Hell, support them in locking down the US. Three generations of this crap and all their personal demons will give rise to the most perverse society the world has ever seen.

    I just don't wanna be here when it happens.
  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @03:54PM (#11854164) Journal
    Too bad you don't even know what you are talking about. Mormons (like myself) don't practice plural marrage and you will be excommunicated (kicked out) from the church if you ever do so. Please quit sinking into the past and remember that the United States was founded largely on religous freedoms and freedoms from pursacution. Take a look at our history and look at the injustices people like you have put on our religion. Where states actually passed laws saying killing Mormons was legal.

    And as is consistently pointed out when LDS-dominated Utah officials and residents make this grand proclamation, talk is cheap. When it comes to actually enforcing these laws, things are quite a bit different.

    This is an OPTIONAL filtering program. Like the v-chip. Heaven forbid you might actually care about your children and what they get into at a young age.

    How very cute. If we don't agree with this government-enforced nonsense, we must be bad parents.

    Well I see you that load of horse shit and raise you one. I think the crappiest parents are the ones who need the organs of state to preserve their precious offspring from the Internet. A good parent has a relationship with his or her child, keeps an eye on what his or her child is doing, and is proactive in matters of pornography. Simply not letting young children on unsupervised computers ought to do the trick.

    Passing these laws is a sign of lazy parents who are unwilling to do the heavy work. Do you think public libraries should censor that you consider filthy? How about book stores, should they prevented from selling the Joy of Sex?

    "For the children" is a cheap political ploy that apparently you have bought into.

  • by SpaceLifeForm ( 228190 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @04:27PM (#11854380)
    What I'd like to know is why governments in the US persist in passing laws they must surely know will not survive a Constitutional challenge?

    Because the track record of upholding the constitution has not been solid over the last 30 years.

    Why do they waste taxpayer money on this?

    Because the taxpayers don't have any control over government spending any more.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2005 @04:45PM (#11854503)
    There is a difference between separation of church and state and completely removing christianity from public life. It seems to me that the people who scream the loudest about the separation clause only direct it at christians. They have no problem that many public schools now teach about islam, but spaz out if a couple of kids want to kid together and have a bible study after school. FWIW I am a buddhist, but I do not have a problem with public displays of christianity. No one forces me to agree with them.
  • by sadler121 ( 735320 ) <> on Saturday March 05, 2005 @05:13PM (#11854663) Homepage
    Certainly if the majority of the citizens of the US think it's okay for churches to be used as electoral tools for political parties, then I guess that's what will happen.

    Just for the record, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has a constantly reaffirmed [] it's political neutrality.

    In fact the current President of the Church opposes [] President Bush's controversial "Faith Based Initiatives"

    Now the church leaders as a whole can not really help the fact that 99% of the Mormon populace decides to align it's self with one party (today it is the Republicans, back when Utah was petitioning for statehood it was the Democrats).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2005 @06:20PM (#11855072)
    What I mean is, they are incredibly compassionate to the poor and hungry.

    And then they think non-believers "dirty" the inside of their temples.

    Then the people are honest, trustworth and good.

    But then they forget that the government shouldn't be party to their religion.

    But then they set up missions all over the world to help.

    I guess when your religion is started by a crackpot, that's what happens. But maybe they're all started by crackpots.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2005 @06:25PM (#11855110)
    In Utah, in SLC, if you look where the state capitol, its right next to the headquarters of the Mormon Church.

    That is both symbolic and real.

    There is essentially no separation of church and state in Utah. Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin roll over in their graves.

    Oh, and for any apologists, this is not accidental. Its a constant reminder that the state government is essentially an arm of the LDS. They put them next to each other so that even retarded people "get it".
  • by bluGill ( 862 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @06:30PM (#11855138)

    Well yeah the US voted for Bush. Did you pay no attention to his opponent? The type of guy only a European could love.

  • I'm thinking... this is the USA... and this is different to Iran and China... how?
    Iran and China are NOT christian. That's what's different...
  • by myowntrueself ( 607117 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @09:13PM (#11856087)
    Ok so China... but Iran? I mean come on isn't Islam close *enough*?
  • by arminw ( 717974 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @09:49PM (#11856290)
    ...the idiots of this country...

    I don't know why you did not get moderated "troll". The MAJORITY of the voters are NOT idiots, but carefully looked at the opposing candidate and decided that they did not want a weather vane in the White house. ...the brainwashed masses....
    Yes, the liberal elites think that they have to protect all those stupid ignorant people and do their thinking for them and impose their even stupider ideas on the clueless majority. I've got NEWS for you, but democracy works for the MAJORITY, whether YOU think in your little brain that the majority is stupid or not.
    Having said all that, it not the job of society (corporate or government or elitists like you) to educate and "protect" the children, but their parents. They alone should keep watch over their kids as they surf the net and teach them to stay out of bad cyberspace neighborhoods just as they might do in the physical world. Too many parents abdicate their responsibility for the upbringing of their children, turning it over to the public. You teach YOUR children (if you have any) according to your perception what is porn or not and let me teach mine, according to the principles outlined that book you malign, the Bible.
  • by instarx ( 615765 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @03:40PM (#11859944)
    It's like when everyone was trying to pass a law making it illegal to burn the American flag. Of COURSE this would get shot down by the Courts, yet it looks great when re-election comes back around and they get to say "see, I was all for a ban on blah blah blah".

    Say what you will on how the Supreme Court will change and then it will start passing these laws, but so far, even the conservative judges can see how un-constitutional these idiot laws are.

    Don't be complacent. This country has already gone further in torture, secret imprisonments and cancellation of civil rights than I ever thought it could. I remember from my early school days being told "The thing that makes America different is that citizens can never be imprisoned by the government without trial, nor can our Constitutional rights ever be cancelled by anyone." How far we have fallen in the past four years.

    You may say now that "of course" these laws will be ruled unconstitutional, but at one time I said, "Of course people will never be imprisoned without trial in America." How naive I was.

Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject -- the actual enemy is the unknown. -- Thomas Mann