We’re Shutting Down Your Website Because Some of Those Smileys Look Underage

According to an article on CNET News.com:

Millions of commercial Web sites and personal blogs would be required to report illegal images or videos posted by their users or pay fines of up to $300,000, if a new proposal in the U.S. Senate came into law.

The legislation, drafted by Sen. John McCain and obtained by CNET News.com, would also require Web sites that offer user profiles to delete pages posted by sex offenders. …

Internet service providers already must follow those reporting requirements. But McCain’s proposal is liable to be controversial because it levies the same regulatory scheme — and even stiffer penalties — on even individual bloggers who offer discussion areas on their Web sites.

The problem is that there is no clear definition of what material you could be fined for. According to the article,

… the reporting rules could prove problematic for individuals and smaller Web sites because the definitions of child pornography have become relatively broad.

The U.S. Justice Department, for instance, indicted an Alabama man named Jeff Pierson last week on child pornography charges because he took modeling photographs of clothed minors with their parents’ consent. The images were overly “provocative,” a prosecutor claimed.

It also seems that any website that allows users to create profiles would be required to delete even completely innocuous profiles of users who are listed as sex offenders, or face staggering penalties.

So if a registered sex offender manages to put up even an empty profile page on some website, even if it contains nothing more than his user ID, it’s the website that can be slammed with a six-figure fine. Seem a bit overboard, maybe? I mean, we already have laws against child pornography and solicitation of children on the Internet; the only power these new laws seem to be giving the government is the power to punish websites brutally over innocuous webpages, or over pretty much any photo of a child.

Giving the government that additional power is not going to help protect any children against anyone. The only ability the government would gain that it doesn’t already have is the power to harass pretty much any website it chooses to. Whether it has a good reason or not.

And this administration would love to shut down the Internet. But they can’t because they’d alienate big business.

Next best thing, though, is to go after anyone using the Internet to spread ideas. The spread of ideas is hurting this administration real bad.

And ideas are a perfectly safe target to go after because doing so doesn’t affect big business in the slightest.

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