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The DOJ's New Spin on Blocking Software

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the panties-in-a-bunch dept.

United States 150

Bennett Haselton has writes "In recent arguments over the constitutionality of the Child Online Protection Act, both sides have argued over the efficiency of Internet blocking software. While COPA would prohibit commercial U.S. websites from publishing freely available material that is "harmful to minors", the ACLU has argued that blocking software is a far more effective alternative, since among other things it can block porn sites located overseas, non-commercial websites, and p2p programs, all of which are beyond the reach of COPA. On the other hand, we had the surreal experience of watching the Department of Justice lawyer arguing in favor of a censorship law by saying that the blocking software alternative was unfair to children -- because it blocked too much legitimate material." The rest of Bennett's essay follows.

"For example," said DOJ attorney Eric Beane during opening arguments, "one filter even blocked a website promoting a marathon to raise funds for breast cancer research. Part of the CIA's World Fact Book was blocked. And a page with an ACLU calendar. [Blocking software blocks] a significant portion of other materials on the World Wide Web, materials that in many cases are necessary for a child to complete his homework." (Opening arguments transcript, p. 37.) As someone who has been publishing critiques of blocking software for years, I read those words and felt like cheering, despite the fact that I'm sitting in the other side's fan section for this match. (Beane is right, but he's missing the point, which is that whatever problems exist with blocking software, are minor compared to the problems with COPA -- because blocking software raises no constitutional issues when it's used by a private party in their own house, whereas COPA affects everyone in the U.S.)

The irony, of course, is that three years ago, in the trial over the similarly-named Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) which required blocking software in all schools and libraries that receive federal funds, it was the ACLU pointing out the flaws in blocking software and the Department of Justice claiming that blocking software was accurate and effective.

At first it would seem that both sides are now guilty of flip-flopping. But reviewing what was said then and what was said now, my conclusion is that the ACLU did nothing more than shift their focus to a different set of facts, while the government did contradict themselves. And the source of this seeming flip-flop actually comes down to something pretty simple: two different ways of stating one set of numbers.

Now before going further I can't resist saying that I think the whole debate over "harmful to minors" material is pretty silly, because I don't think the pro-censorship side has ever put forth a reason why they think that pictures of naked people, or even people having sex with each other, are harmful to people under 18. I disagree with some people on matters like abortion and the death penalty, but I at least think they have some facts on their side; but I don't know of any facts supporting people who think that pornography is dangerous. Why is a woman's nipple harmful but a man's nipple isn't? How are the majority of high school students who have already had sex anyway, supposed to be harmed by pictures of other people having sex? And apart from the logical paradoxes, the pervasiveness of the Internet has now given us empirical data too: virtually all minors have now have access to anything they want to get on the Internet (either at home, or by sneaking to a friend's house), and where's the evidence that adolescents' brains have been hormonally turned to mush any more than they always have been?

But for the remainder of the discussion, suppose you're addressing people who believe that nudity and sexual material really are harmful to people under 18. (In any case, the judges probably believe it, and even if they don't, they're bound by legal precedents that assume as much.) The question is how accurately blocking software achieves this goal.

Blocking software has two types of error rates: underblocking (failure to block porn sites) and overblocking (blocking of non-pornographic sites). Underblocking errors are usually expressed one way: the percentage of porn sites in a given sample that are not blocked. But overblocking errors can be stated in two ways: the percentage of non-porn sites that are blocked, or the percentage of blocked sites that are not pornographic. (There are borderline cases like nude art sites, but it turns out they're not common enough to affect the margin of error much; the vast majority of sites are either clearly porn or clearly not.)

The key is that if you want the overblocking rate to sound low, you talk about the percentage of non-porn sites that are blocked. If you want it to sound high, you talk about the percentage of blocked sites that are non-porn.

For example, in the 2003 Supreme Court arguments over CIPA, Department of Justice attorney Theodore Olson downplayed the error rates of blocking software by saying:

"But even if it's tens of thousands of the -- of the 2 billion pages of material that is on the Internet, we're talking about one two-hundredths of 1 percent, even if it's 100,000, of materials would be blocked."
Here he's referring to the percentage of non-porn sites that are filtered. Attorney Paul Smith, arguing against the law, countered:
"And so we have -- on these lists is a proportion, a huge proportion, perhaps 25, perhaps 50 percent of the sites that are blocked that are not illegal even for children."
and:
"And the evidence is that there's about 11 million websites on the Internet, in --in the accessible part of the Internet and that 100,000 of those are the sexually explicit ones and that the --there are at least tens of thousands more that are on the list. So it's --the Government also says in their brief that about one percent of the Internet is over- blocked, which would be about 100,000 sites. So it is a substantial percentage. It is also a substantial amount. And most importantly, it's a very large percentage of what they're blocking is not what they intend to block."
-- that is, talking about the percentage of blocked sites that were non-pornographic. Both sides cited the same figure (100,000 non-pornographic sites blocked, apparently referring to an average across all blocking programs) -- but that same number could be seen as an "error rate" of either one hundredth of one percent, or 50%, depending on which formula you use.

Then in this year's COPA trial, the ACLU called CMU professor Lorrie Faith Cranor who testified that in tests that she reviewed,

"[blocking software programs] correctly blocked an average of approximately 92 percent of objectionable content. And they incorrectly blocked an average of 4 percent of content not matching the test criteria."
(Oct. 24th transcript, p. 57.) Back to talking about the percentage of non-porn sites that are blocked -- which, again, when you put it that way, sounds low. On the other hand, although I couldn't find exact numbers cited by the DOJ's lawyers on the number of sites that were incorrectly blocked, in the portions of his opening argument quoted above, Eric Beane focused on the sad fact of the sites that were blocked -- not the fact that they comprised only a tiny fraction of sites on the Web. The two sides simply swapped formulas.

As for Peacefire's own studies over the years of blocking software error rates, one of the legitimate criticisms that could be made about our efforts was that we focused almost exclusively on the second number, the percentage of blocked sites that were non-porn. If you were interested in how blocking software actually affects the surfing experience of minors who are forced to use it, perhaps you would focus more on the first number, the percentage of non-porn sites that are blocked. Perhaps, you might say, that as an organization addressing the blocking software issue specifically from a minors' rights point of view, we really should have focused on that number quite a bit! But I did get a bit preoccupied with playing "gotcha" with the blocking companies, focusing on the percentage of blocked sites that were obvious mistakes, because it was frankly too much fun publicizing the absurdly high error rates of their programs, which belied the claims made by most blocking companies that all sites on their blacklist were examined by a human at their company before being added. (Although it seems to have done some good -- as far as I know, no blocking company is making that claim about their product today.)

The error rates were indeed absurdly high; we took a sample of the first 1,000 .com domains in an alphabetical list, ran them through several programs, and found that of the sites blocked, between 20% and 80% (!) were errors. (The median error rate was about 50%, which corresponds to the figure given by Paul Smith in the CIPA trial oral arguments quoted above.) This surprised even critics of blocking software, and skeptics complained that we must have made mistakes or simply fudged the numbers. (The whole point of using the first 1,000 .com domains was that if we had used a random sample and gotten error rates like that, we could have been accused of "stacking the deck" and using a fake random sample that was loaded with known errors and not truly random.) Years later, it came out that the companies whose products we'd tested, had been following a policy that if they found an objectionable site on a given IP address, all sites on that IP would be blocked, on the theory that hosting companies often group porn sites together on the same machine. Trouble was, while this may have often been true for bona fide porn sites, it was not true for most sites that featured just an incidental shot of someone's bare breasts or a large amount of profanity -- but this would also be enough to get all sites blocked at a given IP. So the 80% error rate was about what you'd expect after all.

You might think that a product with an 80% error rate could never survive in the marketplace, but consider who was buying the software. On the one hand, you had schools and companies buying the programs -- but they didn't care whether it worked so much as they cared about being able to show, for liability reasons, that they did something. On the other hand, you had parents who really did care about keeping porn off their computer -- but how many parents really did any thorough testing of the product, other than making sure it blocks the obvious sites like Playboy.com? A serious test could take days. Their kids are the only ones who would end up doing any thorough "testing" of the product, and if they found a way around it, it's not likely that they would tell their parents. With no market pressure to fix problems, an 80% error rate wasn't really surprising.

But even the most vocal critics of blocking software only pointed out that blocking software sometimes blocked sites about plumbing, or soccer, or aluminum siding; we never claimed that most of those sites would be blocked. Even with our high numbers of wrongly blocked sites, if they had been expressed as a percentage of non-porn sites that are blocked, they would have still sounded like a "low error rate".

The moral is, always keep track of what the "error rate" refers to in these debates. By moving around a few variables in a formula, the Department of Justice was able to go from saying in 2003 that blocking software was minimally intrusive, to making a speech in 2006 that made blocking software sound so tragically limiting that you could practically hear the violins playing. (I know, people who live in glass houses... *ahem*)

And what about the ACLU? If the Department of Justice is guilty of flip-flopping, from saying in 2003 that blocking software is a reasonable and narrowly tailored solution, to saying in 2006 that it's clumsy, ineffective, and overbroad, is the ACLU guilty of flip-flopping in the opposite direction?

Actually, the ACLU's position has always been consistent: blocking software has First Amendment problems when used in a school or library, due to overblocking and underblocking errors, but if used in the home it is still a lot more effective than a law like COPA, which would score pathetically on the same scale. As ACLU attorney Chris Hansen stated in opening arguments:

"COPA does not reach the 50% of all speech that is overseas... Filters are the most effective. Almost all of the filters that [expert witness] Mr. Mewett tested were at least 95% effective. Think about the 5% ineffectiveness compared to where we start with COPA being 50% ineffective..."
(Opening arguments, p. 22. Note: Chris Hansen has confirmed that the official transcript is wrong; it has him saying "35%" instead of "95%", which wouldn't make any sense.) As for overbreadth, COPA would criminalize speech by adults, intended for adults, something that no blocking program could ever do -- and as for minimizing collateral damage to innocent sites, does anyone think that even if COPA is upheld, parents will throw out their blocking software?

Even though the ACLU focused on different statistics in the two trials, in both cases they were focusing on the numbers that were relevant to the issue. When talking about constitutional problems with blocking software in schools and libraries, the percentage of blocked sites that are incorrectly blocked, is important, because it's their First Amendment rights that are at issue. The DOJ lawyer talking about all the sites that weren't blocked, was missing the point. If your site is being blocked, it hardly matters to you that for every blocked site there are hundreds that are not. "Hey, your site is not accessible, but don't worry, your competitors' sites are!"

On the other hand, when talking about the use of blocking software in the home, the publisher's First Amendment rights are not at issue; the issues that most parents would care about, are how effective it is, and whether most clean sites are still accessible. Well of course most of them are. Blocking software is not that bad.

Confused? The option to just stop making a big deal out of porn on the Internet is looking better all the time, isn't it?

cancel ×

150 comments

First Post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17130460)

Fist Post

Re:First Post! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17130844)

Considering the subject is pr0n, I believe the correct spelling is "fisting post"

dont forget (1)

jrwr00 (1035020) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130496)

THe internet is only 2% porn anyways

Lawyers can argue anything (2)

meburke (736645) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130500)

Advocacy is good up until the point that you get to exclude relevant facts inimical to your argument. then it just becomes a matter of winning, justice, fairness and truth be damned.

Re:But that is how law works (3, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131996)

Advocacy is good up until the point that you get to exclude relevant facts inimical to your argument.

IANAL but if you are presenting an argument to a judge or jury, you are not responsible to provide information to them that incriminates your client or their cause. In fact if you did so you wouldn't be a good lawyer.

The responsibility of counter argument or evidence falls solely on the attorney's on the opposing side of the case be it corporate lawyers or attorney generals for the state.

Only the judge and/or jury are supposed to take both side's information into account before making a decision. Not the lawyers presenting their argument.

Outside court is a different story, but you often have to keep in mind that public opinion does creep into the courts. So it is in the best interest for lawyers to never present both sides at any time ever.

In a truly fair world, it would be nice, but unfortunately that isn't how things are.

Re:But that is how law works (1)

Tau Neutrino (76206) | more than 7 years ago | (#17133746)

if you are presenting an argument to a judge or jury, you are not responsible to provide information to them that incriminates your client or their cause. In fact if you did so you wouldn't be a good lawyer.
You're quite right, and that's the problem with our adversarial system of jurisprudence: the parties most familiar with the case are not concerned with truth, justice, or fairness, only with winning. Juries, which often comprise unsophisticated thinkers, all called upon to see through the presentations of both sides, and somehow arrive at an equitable verdict.

Good fucking luck.

Governments May Try (5, Insightful)

kidtux1 (896975) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130534)

Does any one else think its not the purpose of the government to say what we can and cannot know, use and look at? Although I doubt the government will ever stop trying to do this, from trying to ban certain books to trying to ban how we use the internet. We just need to keep voicing our opinion and telling them we don't agree with this. --- http://www.iheartmygeek.com/ [iheartmygeek.com]

Religion+Government=Censorship (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17130632)

they'll keep trying to censor things so long as people keep pushing their religion into government

it isn't just religion (3, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130778)

many in government are pushing stuff like this so that they can effectively control anything we can see. They start with the easy stuff, items likely to appeal to the broadest base, then then slowly add to it.

Of course they may try to wrap it up in pretty sounding names, fairness doctrine is a good one for anyone who has read about some plans for radio, and apply what worked in other areas to the internet.

After, do Nazi's offend you? They are censored in many areas of the world and its not religious based. Stuff like that will come to the US under the guise of "Hate speech / hate crimes". It won't be religious based. Even if it were it would only because it provides a convienent boost.

Re:it isn't just religion (2, Interesting)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 7 years ago | (#17132960)

No, many in government aren't pushing it.

The pushing is coming from certain segments of the US public that are looking upon the US government to restrict certain types of information because it's easier than taking responsibility for it themselves. The folks that want sites/content banned have gotten organized and gotten legislation introduced and the initiatives in Congress are just government doing what it's supposed to do - the people's business.

Don't like it? Don't just cry "censorship, censorship" or come up with yet another conspiracy theory as to why the government is trying to rule our lives (which, in itself, is unbelievable - it's far too disorganized for that). Get involved, get organized and get counter legislation introduced for consideration.

Re:Religion+Government=Censorship (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17133980)

Religion: a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sect

You're using the term religion in an overly casual way; it's not limited to the supernatural fundamentalists you're picturing.

Frankly, the problem of government censorship is a religious problem -- but only because no one can escape having "a fundamental set of beliefs and practices". When a group like-minded people can control the actions of those who disagree with them, they will. Supernatural justification doesn't need to enter into the picture; man is prone to abuse what he can.

Your religious beliefs are obviously sans the whole spiritual mess, but that doesn't mean a government controlled by people who agree with you would act justly.

Re:Governments May Try (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131356)

Of course it's the government's responsibility to tell you what you can and cannot see/read/hear. It's those damn liberal Democrats who want to be Big Brother to everyone! All they want is a bigger, more intrusive government checking up on everyone and telling them how to live. It's liberals I tell ya. LIBERALS!!!!

*psst* *psst* *mumble* *mumble*

Republicans? Really?

I hereby withdraw my previous comments.

Re:Governments May Try (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131396)

Does any one else think its not the purpose of the government to say what we can and cannot know, use and look at?

Yeah, these guys:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved for the States respectively, or to the people

Nowhere in Article One does congress have anything which gives them the authority to censor material.

... and probably will succeed (1)

Marnhinn (310256) | more than 7 years ago | (#17132558)

I somwhere work on the Hill.

I have yet to see one letter opposing this piece of legislation (or here about one, out of the thousands we receive a week [although I here tons about immigration, outsourcing, public lands and other topics).

This is because most people which contact their legislators often are considering these laws on a case by case basis (at least that is my best guess), and often do not see or understand the larger effects the laws will have. They will not know the history of the previous legislation.

Slashdot is unique in that there is (at times) an informed majority present. I have serious doubts about the average American voter having a good understanding of these issues (based on the constituent correspondance that I have seen here). In the last couple of weeks, the only major thing I remember regarding an issue that Slashdotters consider important was a full page ad by Digital Freedom in the Roll Call (a newspaper that most legislators read on a daily basis) regarding DRM and piracy.

More needs to be done than voicing your opinion to your legislator. Go out and tell your neighbors, your work contacts, your online associates. Educate them... and then something might change.

Re:Governments May Try (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#17132942)

If they're going to want to block "inappropriate" content online, will this extend to online Bibles? After all, Song of Solomon is pretty graphic erotica and acts depicted in their as honorable between consenting adults are considered "sin" and "inappropriate" by many modern radical so-called "Christians" who pick and choose what to believe or discount out of the Bible. After all, if you want to block some inappropriate content, you should block all "inappropriate" content equally.

This way, since everyone will be affected, people will see how blocking content is stupid and instead they should supervise their children rather than insisting that government or corporations do it for them. You know, personal responsibility.

Yeah right (1)

77Punker (673758) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130622)

Why don't they prevent kids from calling 900 phone sex numbers first?

Or walking in on their parents by accident? How's that for harmful?

Re:Yeah right (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17130708)

"Or walking in on their parents by accident? How's that for harmful?"

Or....watching what was left in the VCR after they taped themselves.

I am still scrubbing my brain after 20 years.

Re:Yeah right (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130836)

Or walking in on their parents by accident? How's that for harmful?

As odd as this may sound, those people are lucky.

When I was 15, I accidentally walked in on my grand parents.

Then, when I was 19, my grandmother walked in on my and my girlfrield.

LK

Re:Yeah right (1)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130882)

Ah, the circle of life. Beautiful in its own horrifying, horrifying way.

Re:Yeah right (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17130936)

Then, when I was 19, my grandmother walked in on my and my girlfrield.

I also had an imaginary girlfriend when I was 19.
My grandmother didn't like her either.

Re:Yeah right (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131462)

Ha, nice try, I read that one on alt.sex.stories already!

Would somebody please... (4, Funny)

Phu5ion (838043) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130652)

think of the seventeen year old congressional pages!

Re:Would somebody please... (5, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130726)

Anyone know why politicians don't use bookmarks?

Because they like their pages bent over!!!!

Re:Would somebody please... (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131104)

What's the difference between Congress and the Library of Congress?

At the Library, you get in real trouble for licking the pages!

Re:Would somebody please... (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131264)

These people needed some dough, and they needed a con...so they made a Condo!!!

And if pro is the opposite of con, then is congress the opposite of progress?

And if Peanut oil comes from peanuts, and olive oil comes from olives, where does baby oil come from?

And if firefighters fight fire, and crime fighters fight crime, what do freedom fighters fight?

Why doesn't the government maintain a blacklist? (4, Insightful)

AndyG314 (760442) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130774)

Why don't they just maintain a blacklist of sights with "mature" content, and make the list freely avalable to people who whish to block such material. That sounds like a whole lot eaiser solution than what they are talking about.

Re:Why doesn't the government maintain a blacklist (1)

huckda (398277) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131494)

the government? blah...

squidguard and dansguardian and a few others have blacklists...
simple to install and use...can even get 'ipcop' and load the plugin for it...single disk nearly automagical install...

MANY schools use this...and it blocks a LOT of GREAT content...because A&P classes NEED to research the human anatomy...
words like penis, vagina, breasts...BLOCKED DENIED inappropriate words
Health and Biology try looking up sexually transmitted diseases...BLOCKED DENIED inappropriate words
history, abuses of prisoners in concentration camps...BLOCKED DENIED violent material

and that has absolutely NOTHING to do with IMAGES on those pages...

as I've demonstrated MANY times... create a site...name your images something like 'heavenlyangel001.jpg' have no illicit text..and it will get through EVERY FILTER if not explicitly on a blacklist...
oh then there are the bazillion of URL-proxy's out there...enjoy blocking all of those

Re:Why doesn't the government maintain a blacklist (1)

n6kuy (172098) | more than 7 years ago | (#17132690)

If only the damn kids would use the school's computers for what they were intended. It seems to me that the school computers are mostly used for non-academic purposes by the students who use them, like playing Flash video games, etc.

Personally, I think access on school computers ought to be limited to a certain few specific online library sites that are created specifically for the kind of research high schoolers need to do, and perhaps several newspaper and major news agency websites.

Re:Why doesn't the government maintain a blacklist (1)

trianglman (1024223) | more than 7 years ago | (#17132014)

blacklists, in situations where one can just add a redirect to an entirely new domain name/IP/whatever, are not effective. It will take care of the major players like playboy, but will fail miserably on the 50-80% of pr0n that's elsewhere. This is why the blocking software is so horribly inefficient and has such high error rates.

Re:Why doesn't the government maintain a blacklist (1)

teh_chrizzle (963897) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134518)

like most complex issues, penny arcade captures it best [penny-arcade.com] .

Easy Solution (1)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130794)

There is an easy solution to the problem. Blocking software with a central, and public, white list. Using a central process (with local overrides) allows small libraries to benefit and not have to maintain their own white lists, and opens the process to review. And by public/open, I mean that any citizen could look at approvals and rejections, time & date, and who is responsible for the white list request and who's decision it was to ultimately approve or deny it.

And you must allow the white list process to come from both directions, for instance, that breast cancer website could request to be added, perhaps with small fines if they are approved and subsequently change their content such that they would have been denied (changing breast cancer to breast porn, for instance).

If we must block content, at least do it intelligently. We have the technology and the means to build an infrastructure to support this model. We do not, and will not ever, have the means to enforce something like COPA. Our court systems are already full enough, thank you very much.

Enforcement as an incentive (2, Interesting)

Oriumpor (446718) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131198)

Enforcement of CIPA (or CIPA compliance) is what gets public institutions the vaunted "Erate" monies that continues their low connection fees (+70% off phone company rates.) As such, organizations WANT to follow CIPA rules (including having a blocking filter) to maintain these monies.

COPA would be something for the courts, and legal associations to make money. Nothing more. At least with a Blocking filter on our end it's easy enough to toss a URL in that's being popularized by the media (myspace.com etc) to prevent students from sitting there all day during the business technology classes they're supposed to be working in.

On top of which, when there is good communication between the instructors and the IT staff, it's not a problem to remove a website from the blocks, or exclude it entirely from the filter. (Oblig. F/OSS ref: On top of which, the software that lets you do so is free. [dansguardian.com] ) What it sounds like is a few lawyers, ones with their noses in the trough and ones outside the political machine, sat down and said "hey you know, there's a whole racket we could exploit that nobody has taken advantage of... who wants write a law?"

Porn is the golden goose to the internet, everyone wants to kill it and take it apart to find out why it works so well. But to do so will kill the golden eggs it happens to lay, innovation, cheaper bandwidth, ubiquitous streaming etc. What laws like this end up doing is driving innovation on the part of pornographers (who have already shown their capacity to innovate) to avoid this unenforceable law. Inevitably it will result in more businesses going overseas to avoid the stupidity altogether and the American economy will suffer the consequences of over-regulation.

broken links (1)

Oriumpor (446718) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131248)

The proper URL is dansguardian.org [dansguardian.org] I do apologize.

There is no good or easy solution (1)

trianglman (1024223) | more than 7 years ago | (#17132144)

This will make the white list as effective at controlling "good"/"bad" sites as wikipedia is at controlling facts on controversial subjects.

Re:There is no good or easy solution (1)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#17132332)

The difference is that Wikipedia is anonymous, even if you have an account there.

This system would be tied to the reviewer and submitter. A librarian should be less likely to try and submit a pornography website if he or she knows that her name will be tied to that request, something future employers will likely review. Likewise, a reviewer should be less likely to approve a bad site if he knows that the media will come after him like blood hounds if it comes out that he approved a site about donkeys and grandmothers.

I wonder... (1)

Ocular Magic (948250) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130798)

I wonder how many of these attorneys were guilty of sneaking over to a friends house to look at their older brothers porn mags? Sorry, I had access to porn way before the net was around and I'm sure my son is going to find a way to look at naked ladies regardless of what blocks are in place on the net, or anywhere else.

Re:I wonder... (1)

ThomsonsPier (988872) | more than 7 years ago | (#17132336)

My mother is on record as saying that she would have been worried if I hadn't been looking at pornography in one form or another. Not that she ever caught me...

Disgusting (5, Insightful)

Puls4r (724907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130808)

This is disgusting. We're having an argument that is primarily motivated by religion in front of the DOJ and trying to force that moral view on the rest of the country. Show me proof that nudity, or even showing sex to children, somehow scars them for life. Answer: You can't. In fact, you can look at european culture for proof if you like. Do we need to dig into the mounds of proof that only teaching abstinence doesn't work either? You can make the exact same analogy about Beer, and how the problems we have over here compared with the notable LACK of problems they have in Europe around college bingeing, etc. Beyond that, if the parents want to badly to prevent their children from seeing it, they have the ability to do so. It's called personally responsibility. Chaperoned play-dates. Unplug or password the computer etc etc. People go around putting latches on all their kitchen drawers and outlet covers on their plugs - and then they explain to the kids as they get older. Generally speaking, by the time their old enough to get around the simple safe guards, they've been taught about it. (Of course...... sexuality only seems to be deadly to Americans, but I digress). Hell, let's take this to the logical conclusion. Women and men need to be segregated lest they their lust overcome them. Women must wear veils and never show skin other than their eyes.... oh wait. I think there's a religion out there that does that already. I could go on and on and on regarding this issue. Russia tried to restrict the Western viewpoint. The Nazis burned books. The Middle East... and so on. This is one more form of clear repression, but what amounts to a very large group. America: Land of the Free and home of the Brave? Only if you're a good Christian.

Re:Disgusting (2, Informative)

operagost (62405) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131202)

Do we need to dig into the mounds of proof that only teaching abstinence doesn't work either? You can make the exact same analogy about Beer, and how the problems we have over here compared with the notable LACK of problems they have in Europe around college bingeing, etc.
While I agree that the drinking age in the USA is stupid, this is a total red herring.

(Of course...... sexuality only seems to be deadly to Americans, but I digress).
Yes, you do.

Hell, let's take this to the logical conclusion. Women and men need to be segregated lest they their lust overcome them.
That's not logical, it's a straw man.

America: Land of the Free and home of the Brave? Only if you're a good Christian.
Multiple times you made the assumption that only Christians are concerned about exposing children to pornography and violence. Perhaps you should have tried to prove this point, on any of your points, instead of spewing multiple assumptions, hypotheses and WAGs in your rambling post.

Re:Disgusting (1)

Puls4r (724907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131858)

No sir. I did not make the assumption that ONLY Christians are concerned about this.

I made a generalization. If you can't accept generalizations in conversations like this, then you should probably go elsewhere. Otherwise you're going to get so bogged down in semantics, "show me the cite on the web page" crap that you'll never see the truth or even the philosophy beyond the argument. It will end up turning into a point-counterpoint my scientists are better than yours BS argument.

It's not a strawman. It's an excellent example of a slippery slope. Should we dig into why the religious folks were / are against birth control as well? It's all a big part of the same argument.

You have no point. You are attacking the poster rather than the argument.

Proof (1, Insightful)

gillbates (106458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131796)

Why is a woman's nipple harmful but a man's nipple isn't?

Because it teaches young girls that their self-worth is dependent on their ability to arouse a man. It exposes children to issues which they should not have to deal, and distorts their perception of the primary purpose of sex.

The primary rationale behind outlawing porn is emotional, not religious. China actively persecutes Christians, yet they also outlaw porn. It isn't simply a religious issue - it is about the emotional well being of children. Even atheist China understands this.

Today, American teenagers have epidemic rates of emotional problems. Where did they come from? What changed from 100 years ago?

100 years ago, heck, even 50 years ago, teenage girls prided themselves on their ability to do domestic duties - cooking, cleaning, social graces, etc. Teenage boys thought of sports and college. Now, both seem to be preoccupied with their appeal to the opposite sex. Their sense of self is now defined by factors largely beyond their control - i.e. their appeal to the opposite sex. Their happiness is no longer within their own control - it is now controlled by a fickle population, one beyond their ability to understand.

Porn only reinforces the notion that a person's self worth is a matter not of their personality and intelligence, but of their sexual appeal to others. It's a subjective, ever changing standard.

Re:Proof (3, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 7 years ago | (#17132164)

Their sense of self is now defined by factors largely beyond their control - i.e. their appeal to the opposite sex.
This is NEW? No, this is old, older than the caveman.
100 years ago, heck, even 50 years ago, teenage girls prided themselves on their ability to do domestic duties - cooking, cleaning, social graces, etc.
And just what do you think all that cooking, cleaning, and social graces were in service of? That's right, landing a man.
Porn only reinforces the notion that a person's self worth is a matter not of their personality and intelligence, but of their sexual appeal to others
Even granting that for the sake of argument, it's insufficient reason to restrict it. Unless you also think it should be the government's job to restrict the bald statement "Your worth depends on how attractive you are to the opposite sex".

Re:Proof (1)

lahi (316099) | more than 7 years ago | (#17132740)

I sincerely hope that all erotophobic Americans will do what they preach and stop reproducing once and for all. Preferably they should realize like the bald eagle in the Muppet Show, that we are all naked under our clothes, and as a consequence commit suicide.

-Lasse

(Who will not set his foot on U.S. soil until perhaps the day when the First Lady is a black, atheist *lesbian*. Preferably one with a scientific degree in biology.)

Re:Proof (1)

rahlquist (558509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17133252)

Because it teaches young girls that their self-worth is dependent on their ability to arouse a man. It exposes children to issues which they should not have to deal, and distorts their perception of the primary purpose of sex.

Today, American teenagers have epidemic rates of emotional problems. Where did they come from? What changed from 100 years ago?

100 years ago, heck, even 50 years ago, teenage girls prided themselves on their ability to do domestic duties - cooking, cleaning, social graces, etc. Teenage boys thought of sports and college. Now, both seem to be preoccupied with their appeal to the opposite sex. Their sense of self is now defined by factors largely beyond their control - i.e. their appeal to the opposite sex. Their happiness is no longer within their own control - it is now controlled by a fickle population, one beyond their ability to understand.

Porn only reinforces the notion that a person's self worth is a matter not of their personality and intelligence, but of their sexual appeal to others. It's a subjective, ever changing standard.

You defeated you own arguments here. Their self worth is tied to self image because even 50 years ago teenager worked far more than they do today. Their preoccupation with their self image is a result of too much time on their hands not a result of seeing someone unclothed. Some of the emotional problems also likely stem from the fact that by hiding them away in closets from the real world we create children who think of their bodies and what they can do with them as something dirty which is utterly ridiculous and a direct result of the overwhelming puritanical nature of our modern US society.

Re:Proof (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | more than 7 years ago | (#17133366)

Today, American teenagers have epidemic rates of emotional problems. Where did they come from? What changed from 100 years ago? Yes. Because all of the small indigineous bare-breasted heathen communities of this planet were obviously fraught with emotional instability before European cultures assimilated them.

Re:Disgusting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17132032)

Hmmm... How do you feel about gun control then?

Re:Disgusting (0, Troll)

bendodge (998616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17133244)

The United States of America was founded by people who wanted a Godly nation, and there are still plenty of them around who want to keep it that way. If you don't like it: move.

All societies in history have fallen after going totally secular, and especially after embracing homosexuality.

I do agree that it is not the government's place to try and regulate the internet. It is the responsibility of parents to parent their kids. But America is supposed to be a moral nation.

Re:Disgusting (2, Insightful)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 7 years ago | (#17133880)

The United States of America was founded by people who wanted a Godly nation, and there are still plenty of them around who want to keep it that way


Actually, it was begun by men who were adamantly for freedom of religion and freedom *from* religion. But I guess you don't let even basic history get in the way of your ideologies.


If you don't like it: move


So, I guess this whole "democracy" thing isn't really your cup of tea, is it? Instead of moving I could, say, express my discontent (see, e.g., the first amendment to the US Constitution) and vote based on my beliefs. But, I guess you would prefer a dictatorship.


All societies in history have fallen after going totally secular, and especially after embracing homosexuality


Um, which societies are those? The Greeks accepted homosexuality long, long before they were conquered by the Romans. Rome fell largely because they kept invading everyone they could and wound up being invaded in turn after their military power was exhausted (hard to spread power over so much area) by the "barbarians" they had been invading and who were fed up with it (sound like any country you know today?). The British Empire has certainly waned, but that was long before they were accepting of homosexuality. I could go on, but hopefully you get the point. In fact, I don't think you can truly point out a single society that has fallen because of secularism and an embrace of homosexuality. You're just quoting standard fundie nonsense.


But America is supposed to be a moral nation


No, America is supposed to be a free nation. You know, "Don't tread on me" and all that sort of thing.

Re:Disgusting (0, Offtopic)

RexRhino (769423) | more than 7 years ago | (#17133974)

The trouble is, once the government gets into the buisness of legislating on morality or social issues, then you have to accept that a moral code you do not believe in will sometimes be enforced on you.

The Christian Right did not invent the state apperatus for morality enforcement and social engineering. That was a creation of the progressive movement, and is championed by the secular left as "social democracy". It just so happens that the Christian Right has managed to sieze control of the state apparatus at this time. The danger of extreme government power, is that those who you might disagree with might sieze that power and use it on you.

Fighting the Christian Right is pointless... if we live in a society that says it is "Democratic", and "Progressive" for moral views and social conditions are to be regulated by the government, then it is only reasonable and democratic that the Christian Right would try to further their agenda through the state. The only way you can fight this, is to oppose government intervention into the social lives of citizens. The only way to fight this is to smash the state social engineering aparatus, to limit the power of government, and to force the government to mind their own buisness.

The Secular Left is in love with big government, social engineering, and enforcing their own form of morality. The Secular Left will never want to limit the power of government over people, they simply want to enforce their own moral and social agenda on people instead of the Christian Right agenda. As long as you view this as a problem with the Christian Right, and not a problem with big government in general, you don't understand the problem enought to solve it.

Re:Disgusting - you are disgusting (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17134046)

The fact that you want to show sex to kids is disgusting. Why do you want proof?
Frankly, this whole matter should be in the parents lap. Legislation is not the answer. Most of these politicians (religious or not) can't think their way out of a wet paper bag.

You point your fingers at religion... yet you don't mention whether you have children? And you mention Russia, which has tried to abolish religion since before Stalin. You see how that turned out.
People with non-religious beliefs tend to be more bitter, angry, and more likely to turn to crime.
Deal with it. There are religious people out there. That's why the US was founded, for religious freedom.

  You want to blame religion for everything. Blame stupid politicians. Politicians who can't think.

And what are you going to do if there IS a god? Are you prepared to roast in hell? Have you ever thought of that?

Whatever means necessary? (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130814)

Could it be that the ACLU is using this argument just to win this case? That they are only arguing for software blocking just to defeat COPA?

The submitter talks about flip-flopping, both on the side of the DOJ and the ACLU, but arguments you made in other court cases can't be brought up in later court cases, can they? I mean, the judge doesn't rule against you for flip-flopping, right? You base an argument on the facts of this case and this case alone? Even if the DOJ faces off down the road against the ACLU in a software-blocking case, and the DOJ argues that the ACLU was for software-blocking in the past, the ACLU can say "Your honor, that was in a different case with different circumstances. We were arguing for the effectiveness of software blocking *over* COPA".

Re:Whatever means necessary? (1)

trianglman (1024223) | more than 7 years ago | (#17132254)

Actually, if I am remembering properly, previous court statements can, at least at the discretion of the judge, be admitted as evidence in hearings. Just using them on the "He changed his mind from before" basis probably wouldn't go far, but it can be used to show perjury or as a bullet point in support of your arguement.

Re:Whatever means necessary? (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#17132428)

Yes, such testimony can be brought up later in a trial, but isn't the obvious counter to that "Your honor, we were only arguing about the effectiveness of software-blocking over COPA, not generally advocating a pro-software blocking stance. Testimony from that trial has nothing to do with the issues before us in this case."

Parental control (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17130826)

Parents should be putting the restrictions on children not the government.

Re:Parental control (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17130906)

I think parents should be putting restrictions on the government, not on the children...

.xxx .mat (1)

binkzz (779594) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130846)

Isn't this something that a globally enforced .XXX domain name for erotica and .MAT for mature would fix?

Re:.xxx .mat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17131070)

No. Which country would decide the criteria for what has to go under .xxx ? Saudi Arabia? Sweden?

Re:.xxx .mat (1)

lahi (316099) | more than 7 years ago | (#17133400)

Although Saudi Arabia is rather worse, Swedes - by Danish standards - are prude and repressed. Norway is even worse. And the homophobic Faeroe Islands are more or less Atlantic talibans, only christian. I frankly don't know about Finland.

I hate it when people use "globally" and "enforced" next to each other.

-Lasse

Re:.xxx .mat (1)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131146)


Isn't this something that a globally enforced .XXX domain name for erotica and .MAT for mature would fix?


No, there is too much variation in what people consider naughty and what people consider nice around the world. But locally enforced .censored TLDs certainly would.

Re:.xxx .mat (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131724)

I don't think you understand this whole "world wide web" thing all that well.

Re:.xxx .mat (1)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 7 years ago | (#17132542)


I don't think you understand this whole "world wide web" thing all that well.


I understand it well enough to understand that what may be considered obscene in one jurisdiction can be perfectly acceptable in another. I also know that besides .com, .org, .net, .mil, .edu, and .gov there also exist country level TLDs such as .uk, .us, .es, etc, and that new TLDs such as .info and .biz have been added. The most effective way for those who feel it is necessary to restrict what others may view is to restrict where they may go, and the easiest way to do that is to lock them in to censored domains.

Re:.xxx .mat (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134006)

You're back to square one. What group decides what is obscene and belongs in .xxx? What is hate speech and belongs in .kkk?

Re:.xxx .mat (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 7 years ago | (#17132650)

Absolutely not, because:
A) nothing like that would or could ever be globally enforced

B) the definition of material that would fall into that category varies from city to city, much less from country to country

On the other hand, a *.#.kids.us domain could work, where:
A) The # represents the age of the kids that some committee in the US decides can view content on that site. For example, the Cheerios website with little games and such could be cheerios.5.kids.us, while a website useful for anatomy classes in high school could be anatomy.15.kids.us. Of course this committee will cater to the most conservative people in the country, but see item B below.

B) Parents can choose to limit their internet connectivity to sites based on an age number. If you have a ten-year-old, you restrict all sites except those within *.2.kids.us to *.kids.10.us. If you are more liberal than the national average, you open up *.11.kids.us or higher as well, thus compensating for the inherently conservative nature of the classification committee.

C) Websites with information spanning multiple age groups buy (or are simply given) domains for all those ages. xmen.9.kids.us might have less-mature content than xmen.16.kids.us, for example.

D) If you want to view a website outside of the kids.us domain? Well, all bets are off, because the US cannot control websites outside of the US anyway.

The US has the ability to make a "safe" sandbox for kids, where "safe" is defined by the most conservative people in the country. This sandbox would be inherently limited to those who wish to be included, because voluntary participation (while leaving the rest of the internet alone) is the only way to avoid first amendment conflicts and the fact that the US does not control the internet outside of its borders. Instead of doing this, the US has chosen to try every other possible unrealistic alternative, then spent my tax money defending them in court.

Re:.xxx .mat (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17133134)

Yeah, and let's have a .milf too !

Re:.xxx .mat (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 7 years ago | (#17133992)

An easier to control option would be .kids or something. Not that I think any of these would solve the 'problem'. Why don't parents just, uh, parent?

Singling out the Internet (4, Interesting)

wiz31337 (154231) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130868)

Anyone else find it odd that they are singling out the internet?

I believe this snippet of the prosecution's opening remarks sum up what I'm trying to say nicely:

"There is no other medium of communication that has a federal criminal harmful to minors law. It is not a crime to engage in harmful to minors speech in books or magazines or leaflets. It is not a crime to engage in harmful to minors speech on radio, on records, on movies, on videos or even, indeed, on broadcasts or cable t.v. in all of those instances, there is either no federal law at all or the federal approach to has been regulatory, not criminal."

Only 1% Porn (2, Insightful)

Paulitics (1036046) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130940)

I thought only 1% of webpages contain porn [slashdot.org] . So what percent of the internet is harmfull to children? 2%?

I think we should spend more time worrying about protecting children in the real world from Chester the Molestor(Mark Foley), horrible parents, war, poverty, and hunger. If the worst thing that happens to a child is they see some porn, they have been very lucky (and I hope they took notes).

Wait! (1)

dasunt (249686) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131018)

Does anyone know of a study or statistics that actually evaluates exposure to pornography on non-adults?

The study would be difficult (it would probably have to rely on self-reporting for evidence, and not only is self-reporting frequently misleading, but easy access to pornography may correlate with other factors in the home).

Sure, passing laws "protecting" the children from the evils of the world is good re-election fodder, but is there any evidence that pornography is harmful to children, and if it is harmful, how harmful is it?

Ethics an issue (1)

AEton (654737) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131740)

Whenever you want to disprove (or prove) a hypothesis that "doing action X to children hurts them", you encounter some problems; pesky little things like research ethics often get in the way of scientific research.

Re:Ethics an issue (1)

dasunt (249686) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134428)

That's why I suggested self-reporting. You can always quiz adults about their childhood activities.

They are MY children (2, Interesting)

houghi (78078) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131032)

and I can censor them any way I like.

the blocking software alternative was unfair to children


I don't care if it is fair or unfair. I decide what is fair and unfair. If I want to block 100%, that is MY choice. If I want to block 1% that is MY choice.

Re:They are MY children (1)

jackbird (721605) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131764)

... unless your child happens to use computers in school, at the public library, etc. Then it's someone else's choice.

Re:They are MY children (2, Insightful)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#17132330)

You're not a public institution, which is what this law covers.

Re:They are MY children (2)

RexRhino (769423) | more than 7 years ago | (#17133636)

They are no longer your children... they are now the government's children, and you are given the revokable privledge of raising them.

Establishing the basis of the claim (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131118)

Now before going further I can't resist saying that I think the whole debate over "harmful to minors" material is pretty silly, because I don't think the pro-censorship side has ever put forth a reason why they think that pictures of naked people, or even people having sex with each other, are harmful to people under 18.

This reminds me of the many successfully defended IRS criminal prosecutions I have read about. When the golden question "show me the law that I am in violation of and I'll pay my taxes" is posed and no answer comes in response, you have to wonder how much of what we "know" is assumption, and how much is verifiable fact?

Govt Prefers Subjugation To Mitigation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17131128)

Why does our govt (and govts in general) prefer COPA to blocking?

1) Tactical -- it's an old bromide that the best defense is a good offense, though our govt's record on throttling sources of Bad Things isn't quite stellar, is it?

2) Govts (and their beneficiaries) desire to extend their control, which COPA provides to a greater degree than blocking. COPA says "the world is a bad place that must be subjugated", blocking says "distasteful information is a fact of life, and here's a way to mitigate it."

3) Govts (and their beneficiaries) desire to limit outside influences on their actions, by various methods such as secrecy or merely reducing the number of eligible voters by criminalizing their tastes. COPA obviously does this way better than blocking.

"If it fills just one more jail cell ^H^H^H saves one child's morals, it would be worth it."

The ACLU is Consistent (1)

mdielmann (514750) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131368)

The ACLU has been very consistent on this matter. They didn't like CIPA because it required blocking software in public areas. This impinges on the freedom of speech of many people. They don't like COPA because it censors information that may be inappropriate for children. This too impinges on the freedom of speech of many people. What they're saying is, "We don't need a law that inhibits free speech to protect the children. There are tools out there to protect children should their guardians deem it appropriate, without inhibiting everyone else."

Huh? (1)

styryx (952942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131392)

"The key is that if you want the overblocking rate to sound low, you talk about the percentage of non-porn sites that are blocked. If you want it to sound high, you talk about the percentage of blocked sites that are non-porn."

Specifically: "blocked sites that are non-porn" Vs. "non-porn sites that are blocked"

How does this change the percentage? And how does that make it the key? Is it a skellington[sic-humour] key?

Re:Huh? (1)

styryx (952942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131466)

For the record I do get it. It's relative to the entire internet in one case and not the other.

Teens and Sex? (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131488)

How are the majority of high school students who have already had sex anyway, supposed to be harmed by pictures of other people having sex?

The answer to that question is pretty well researched, though almost impossible to implement beyond the family unit.

It's pretty clear to researchers who study the effect that sexual images have on children that they don't develop healthy behaviors around sexual issues. They treat sex as an "object" and not really a part of a more complex relationship. Be careful how you interpret that last statement because it's not an endorsement of monogamy or other more conservative social agendas.

One can observe the effects in American society. Showing nipple at the superbowl generates huge controversy. A healthy adult seeing it will probably call it a cheap stunt. The social costs may be in the increased spread of STD's, though a zealot could whip out other factoids.

It comes down to who is raising your children. The parents or the television/internets. Most of the time it is the latter.

Flame On!

Re:Teens and Sex? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17131928)

> One can observe the effects in American society. Showing nipple at the superbowl generates huge controversy. A healthy adult seeing > it will probably call it a cheap stunt. The social costs may be in the increased spread of STD's, though a zealot could whip out > other factoids. Are you kidding? The propisiton that seeing a nipple will influence children negatively seems to me pretty ridiculous. In my part of the world, it's fairly common for young children to see a nipple several times a day, and I understand it's been going on for thousands of years.

Get it right. (2, Funny)

Stabilis (1036402) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131662)

Let's start by getting a few things straight. According to recent numbers about just how many web pages there are on the Internet, the statistic that only 1% of those pages contain pornographic material means that there are over 600 million pages with pornographic content. That is definitely a problem. As to Puls4r's statement that this is primarily a religious or moral issue I say examine the facts. Studies show that pornography is one of the most addictive substances known to man. We have passed law after law to protect minors from addictive substances like alcohol, tobacco and other drugs - but done nothing to protect them from Internet pornography. We are raising a generation of porn and sex addicts, which may very well lead to an increase in deviant sexual behavior. Teens growing up with pornography develop unhealthy and incorrect attitudes about sex, women and relationships in general. Some studies show that eventually porn addicts may turn off to relationships altogether because they are incapable of having a normal, healthy relationship. I agree COPA may not be the way to go - but something needs to be done. The problem with Internet pornography goes far beyond any religious or moral debate. We must have a solution that protects minors and un-wanting consumers, but that allows adults to access the legal content they want. I've found something that looks like it could work - www.cp80.org.

Re:Get it right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17132088)

As so many people above stated - Laws to prohibit DO NOT work. That is why we have high school binge drinkingm teen smoking and sex etc. Go to most European countries and you will find none of this. This is in spite of the fact that I can purchase the Daily Sport filled with nude images, I can drink when i am younger. In fact when I was a binge drinking teenage I had some billets from Austria. I was so disappointed when the 3 of them split a 6 pack for a party. I had a 12 pack of beer to myself. The responsibility levels of youngsters who have been exposed to such "sinful items" seems much high than that of those who have lived in the highly regulated environment of North America. The war on Drugs is lost, the war on teenage smoking is lost, the was on internet porn will be lost.

Wake up and spend those big American law dollars on Education programs. Quit trying to use the ridiculous over reaching scope of the "American moral" to push you short sited, ludicrous laws world over.

I personally cannot wait for the American Empire to fall as all Empires fall eventually and I am sick of being bent over by another country's morals. God Bless America - and go screw everyone else

Re:Get it right. (1)

dmsean (902837) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134148)

We must protect our children from our own natural addictions! In fact we must tell everyone what they can and cannot do regardless if it is hurting others. NO CHOICES!

I'm addicted to porn and have a healthy relationship. Sex is not an object to me, and the first porn I saw was when I was 12. It is MY body, I believe in being with one person and not having multiple sex partners....

Personally I think you are wrong in your assumptions. They do it better in Europe, even with alcohol. Hell I know so many friends that would drink at a very young age, so explain how this law protects them? Explain to me why it is not a better idea for the parents to teach their children about proper alcohol comsumption? What to eat when they drink? etc..

Meek's Law and Corollary (1)

HikingStick (878216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131758)

Meek's Law states:

If technology can be exploited, it will be.

Meek's Corollary states:

All technology can be exploited

No matter how this is decided on the free speech front, it will only be a matter of time before blocking technologies are bypassed. Look at spam. Once predicted to be dead by this year, it has had a renaissance of sorts, with spam volume doubling this year. The reason? The blocked learned to beat the blockers. People are deceiving themselves if they think there is some sort of technological panacea that will address complex social issues that manifest themselves on the Net.

COPA (1)

havatchu (931633) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131972)

Why not designate all adult sites with a ".xxx"? Then it would seem simple to block out the unwanted material? There are public indecency laws in place already to cope with indecency outside that "zone" or "zones". Maybe I'm just simple.

Centuries old trick (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#17132194)

It was religion long ago, then nationalism and pride that was used by the minority power-holding to supress people's free exchange of ideas. In this century both of them are not heeded as much. What to do ? Need to find some other thing that is exploitable for supression - enter child abuse.

we are all delicate on the matter, everyone knows it, and they exploit it - for what - for something that will in fact definitely be used to supress things that are harmful to the power holding minority.

Grammar Nazi Response (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17132478)

In recent arguments over the constitutionality of the Child Online Protection Act, both sides have argued over the efficiency of Internet blocking software.

You mean efficacy. I don't think anyone cares how many processor cycles or other resources are consumed by it. The ratio of false to true positives and negatives is much more relevant.

What's so wrong about blocking software? (1)

jeffeb3 (1036434) | more than 7 years ago | (#17132502)

In schools, if you are trying to research breast cancer walks and can't access one page, then go ask your teacher. They can either log in and reveiw the website for you, or ask their IT to add it to the OK list. Problem solved, and in less time then it takes to get a bathroom pass. In Libraries, ok, maybe you don't want the librarian to know exactly what you're doing online and you feel embarrassed asking for a site to be removed. But wait, why are you looking at sites at a public library if you don't want the librarian to know about it? The only problem I can see is the case where blocking software company gets a huge contract with Budwieser to start blocking places that advertise Coors. Actually, the situation is much more complicated, the situation can't be that simple, because I'm procarastinating at work, and I need something to cry about.

Re:What's so wrong about blocking software? (1)

breckinshire (891764) | more than 7 years ago | (#17132832)

I'm ... at work, and I need something to cry about.
How about the fact that you're at work? It brings a tear to my eye.

Remember that it's not just porn (2, Funny)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#17132664)

and that "children" is a pretty wide range of ages and abilities.

An adult on 17-year-old with mature critical thinking skills isn't going to be screwed up by a Holocaust denial site. An eight-year-old? You'd better have spent a lot of effort getting that eight-year-old to be skeptical, the effort might not work, and what school is going to train their students to question bad reasoning and arguments from authority? They'd put themselves out of business.

Anyone who gets their ideas about sex from mainstream porn will wind up seriously off the mark. Real women are based on carbon compounds, not silicon compounds(*). Real lovemaking has little in common with porn film activities. And I bet you wouldn't have to be on porn sites for long to find something genuinely contemptuous toward women. A line is crossed when the site starts calling them "bitches".

(*) Silicones, with an e, are silicon compounds. Specifically they're a chain of alternating silicon and oxygen atoms with alkyl side groups.

Re:Remember that it's not just porn (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17134632)

A line is crossed when the site starts calling them "bitches".
Well, it might make sense in some cases. On the internet, nobody knows if you're a dog.

Studies? (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#17132828)

I seriously doubt there have been any real studies about the "harm" that pornography does to children. But, studies of addiction in adults are common and porn is clearly addictive to some percentage of the population.

The real question is how exactly would you like to answer questions from your children after their viewing a collection of still images from a hardcore porn movie dealing with rape and/or bondage? Is this something that you would be comfortable with? As many younger children do, would you be comfortable with them acting out a scene from such a movie with friends or siblings? Do you believe that sexual relationships based on self-gratification are a positive or negative for the participants?

Also, if you found your 16-year-old son had "discovered" porn and was clearly one of the percentage of the population that responds to this with addictive behavior would you be comfortable with this? Would you deal with this by confinment, behavior modification or counseling? Or nothing at all considering that it was just a period in his life that he would outgrow?

This has nothing to do with morality and religion. It has everything to do with personality and how people interact with others. If, in response to viewing pornography, you treat sexual partners as objects to be used for self-gratification, you aren't behaving as society - any society - would like. If you "use" pornography and self-gratification to such an extent that it overshadows other parts of your life, you have a problem. It is clear from many sources that some percentage of humans do exactly that when exposed to certain types of pornography. Why do we want to expose children to this and then have to deal with the consequences of it?

Re:Studies? (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 7 years ago | (#17132922)

Have you been to an arcade lately?

Gone are the actual video games. Those were too violent with the shooting and the killing, apparently.

They have been replaced with what amount to casino gambling machines. The last arcade I went to, there were very few games that didn't have a very large element of chance, with the payout either being in more tokens, or hundreds of tickets.

Re:Studies? (1)

ChronosWS (706209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17133716)

The real question is how exactly would you like to answer questions from your children after their viewing a collection of still images from a hardcore porn movie dealing with rape and/or bondage? Is this something that you would be comfortable with?

You are a parent. You do not have the luxury of choosing whether you are or are not comfortable with answering those questions - it is your duty as a parent to answer. And your answers will do far more to help them understand than simply hiding those images from them. Eventually they will be found - will you be there to provide guidance?

If, in response to viewing pornography, you treat sexual partners as objects to be used for self-gratification, you aren't behaving as society - any society - would like.

This is a gross generalization. In fact there more than a few people out there who believe sex, in some if not mosst circumstances, is just for pleasure. That's fine, not everyone rolls the same way you do. Your child will not be a pariah because of it unless you decide to make him out to be one. The variety in the human condition is far greater than you perhaps would like to believe, but it does not require your belief in order to exist.

You will be a more effective parent when you recognize the reality of what your children will be exposed to and help them deal with it in an open and honest manner. Children can usually tell when their parents are concealing things from them, and they'll investigate all the harder. Your only choice then is whether or not you will be there to help them process that information when they find it.

Re:Studies? (1)

danlyke (149938) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134070)

I think we're veering off-topic here, so I'll mention that and hopefully get a little lenience from those with "off-topic" moderator points, but you ask "how exactly would you like to answer questions from your children after their viewing a collection of still images from a hardcore porn movie dealing with rape and/or bondage?"

I'd point out that people like to play cowboys and indians, people like to play cops and robbers, and you can play at both of those games without actually scalping people or shooting the horses out from underneath them, or stealing stuff or busting out of jail. This is a basic lesson that kids need to learn anyway: fantasy isn't reality, and actions done in play with consenting playmates aren't the same thing as actions done in earnest with consequences.

And what "...if you found your 16-year-old son had "discovered" porn and was clearly one of the percentage of the population that responds to this with addictive behavior..."?

Well, I'm pseudo-uncle to at least one kid in that age range who, based on family history, is at high risk for alcoholism and obsessive-compulsive behavior. Being that age, he's also discovering drugs and alcohol (although, luckily, he's been to Europe a number of times and at least has basic experiences with wine). The particular focus of the addiction can change, it can be internet porn, computer gaming, or good old cheap beer, the larger issue is making sure that people making decisions can keep their eyes on the longer-term goals, and understand what impact the shorter-term trade-offs they're making have on those longer term goals: How's that five dollars at Starbuck's impacting your desire to buy a house? How's that half-bottle of Jack impacting your ability to maintain a relationship?

Yes, these sound like easy answers to complex questions. I don't mean them that way. Every time (and it's happened a number of times) I've had the "drug talk" with a teenager I have to get past the fact that the kid has noticed that the fear mongers were lying to them, past the fact that they know adults who casually use drugs and alcohol who don't have any problems, through to the "some do, some don't, the challenge is being able to see your own behavior in the larger context". And seeing that in ourselves is hard. Really hard.

And maybe so far I've just lucked out, that the kids I've seen grow out of these phases had the right genetics or the right other parenting or were just lucky. I won't claim omniscience, and I've not had the parenting experience, just the "'adult' they could talk to" experience.

But a symptom is just that, obsession can take many forms, discerning fantasy from reality, short term payoff from long-term impacts, is the real thing that needs to be addressed, and targeting one particular focus won't really help the underlying behavior and psychological needs.

Easiest solution of them all (1)

Mike Blakemore (999177) | more than 7 years ago | (#17132878)

What we need to do is sit down with our children and monitor them while they are online. Keep in mind that these kids are a lot more technically competent than most adults. You can try blocking/monitoring programs, but nothing out there is going to stop any motivated kid from getting unrestricted internet access for any significant amount of time.

Internet access should not be required for homework. It's too easy to just copy what you need from wikipedia. It takes all the pain and headache out of learning, and the only thing they get out of it is that all of life's answers can be found on a web site.

I feel we must teach our children of the hard times to prepare them for life outside our wallets. Introduce them to computers early on and they won't have career troubles. Get them out doors so they don't grow up to be fat vegetables.

Pretty simple, and it doesn't require the government to make technical decisions.

A reason (1)

LihTox (754597) | more than 7 years ago | (#17133374)

I don't think the occasional sight of naked people is damaging to children; however, I do think continued exposure to pornography could be: it can develop into an addiction, and it can give teenagers unrealistic ideas about sex (though TV and movies do that already).

In the home, the high false-positive rates with filters could be tempered one of two ways, I think:
a) whenever a site is blocked, pop up a dialogue box allowing a parent to permit the use of that site (temporarily or permanently, the page or the whole site) by entering a password.
b) Allow the child to go anywhere, but LOG all the sites which would normally be filtered. A child is less likely to actively seek out porn if they know their mother knows what sites they visit.

These options would work for children in the library too, but not for adults because of privacy concerns. ("Did you hear that Ethel was looking up breast cancer the other day?") Libraries should have some computers reserved for "adults only" with no filtering at all.

Transcripts of oral arguments... (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134956)

...in this case would probably be prohibited from being published on the Internet.

Bravo.
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