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Illinois Bill Would Ban Social Networking Sites

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the including-Obama's dept.

The Internet 293

AlexDV writes "Library blogger Michael Stephens is reporting that an Illinois state senator, Matt Murphy (R-27, Palatine), has filed a bill that 'Creates the Social Networking Web site Prohibition Act. Provides that each public library must prohibit access to social networking Web sites on all computers made available to the public in the library. Provides that each public school must prohibit access to social networking Web sites on all computers made available to students in the school.' Here is the bill's full text." This local effort harks back to an attempt last May to get federal legislation banning school and library use of social networking sites (Wikipedia summary here). The DOPA bill passed the House but died in the Senate.

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think of the children! (3, Insightful)

President_Camacho (1063384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18008896)

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, ... oh nevermind.

Re:think of the children! (0, Troll)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#18008910)

Congress isn't making any such law here, a state legislature is.

Re:think of the children! (2, Insightful)

Copid (137416) | more than 7 years ago | (#18008922)

Congress isn't making any such law here, a state legislature is.
I think the question you're trying to raise has been settled for some time.

Re:think of the children! (0)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#18008938)

I'm not trying to raise any question, I'm just pointing out the folly of the OP who makes a witty retort to the headline without bothering to examine the situation described in the article.

Re:think of the children! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18008948)

Hey chief, you might want to read the last sentence in the writeup before making a witty retort to the OP.

Re:think of the children! (2, Insightful)

sglider (648795) | more than 7 years ago | (#18008950)

It's moot. The States Ratified the Constitution, ergo the states must abide by the Constitution. In this case, it's quite clear that the state is not abiding by the Constitution, and in any rational situation this would be knocked down as unconstitutional within months, if not weeks.

Re:think of the children! (3, Informative)

Kiaser Wilhelm II (902309) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009098)

That is not valid legal theory. The bill of rights only applied to the states after ratification of the 14th Amendment and many lawsuits later.

Regardless, the current tests for applicability of the 1st Amendment would not find anything wrong with the law being proposed.

Re:think of the children! (2, Informative)

Xichekolas (908635) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009616)

IANAL, but pretty sure it's established precedent that kids in school have no 1st amendment rights if those rights conflict with maintaining order in the school. For instance, the school can ban student publications (even independent ones) from being distributed on school grounds or read in class if those publications incite disorder or other discipline problems. This bill, however atrocious, would probably be defensible under the idea that social networking sites are disruptive to education.

Re:think of the children! (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009846)

They're not talking about kids in school. The law covers Public Libraries. That changes things in regard to Amendment Number One.

Re:think of the children! (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#18008970)

and we are pointing out your own folly, that states must obey the constiution. state law doesn't trumpt the corner stone of american soceity.

Re:think of the children! (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009032)

Where did I say states don't have to obey the Bill of Rights? I didn't. The issue at hand is that with the way American government has evolved, any action taken by takes would be struck down by federal courts. Congress doesn't even come into the picture. The OP was over-simplistic.

Re:think of the children! (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009040)

My apologies, any action taken by takes should read, "any action taken by states".

Re:think of the children! (0, Troll)

Talgrath (1061686) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009234)

That's because federal courts can strike down a bill as unconstitutional. It's that whole...checks and balances thing; I'm sure you've heard of it? No? Oh...well you see, there's three "branches" of government, and they are...well you know what, just go back to high school and pay attention this time, they'll teach you all about it.

Re:think of the children! (5, Informative)

Eukaryote (93920) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009006)

The 14th Amendment makes the federal constitution apply to all of the states.

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

States can have laws that ratchet freedom further, but they can't decrease your rights any more than the federal government Constitutionally is able to.

Re:think of the children! (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009142)

States can have laws that ratchet freedom further, but they can't decrease your rights any more than the federal government Constitutionally is able to.

I wonder if the auto companies tried to use that arguement against California emissions laws, or as a restriction of trade amongst the states. I honestly don't know so please, don't mod me down.

Re:think of the children! (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009312)

States can have laws that ratchet freedom further, but they can't decrease your rights any more than the federal government Constitutionally is able to.



Still, one may wonder why only the first amendment contains the words "Congress shall make no law ...", while all the other nine amendments of the bill of rights make no such mention. Did the potential loophole elude the original authors ? Or did they put in these words intentionally ?

Federal vs. state (3, Informative)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009356)

The founders believed that the states would protect their people against federal tyranny. It's in the Federalist Papers, which are utterly fascinating reading.

That idea did get turned upside down less than a hundred years after the Constitution was ratified.

Re:Federal vs. state (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009378)

The founders believed that the states would protect their people against federal tyranny. It's in the Federalist Papers, which are utterly fascinating reading.

Interesting. I might check that out some time.

I had the idea that the founders might grant the states more power than the federal government because if you don't like what's going on in one state, you can still move to another (or, today, just drive to another to avoid some of the blue laws), without leaving the country (which would, at that time, most likely make you the subject of a monarch again).

Re:think of the children! (1)

ZorbaTHut (126196) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009734)

States can have laws that ratchet freedom further, but they can't decrease your rights any more than the federal government Constitutionally is able to.


Of course, the Federal Government is able to do exactly that, as long as there's children, terrorism, or drugs involved.

Seriously - take a look at our Constitution someday and figure out how many of those amendments are actually paid attention to. Out of the first ten Amendments I count five that are unambiguously violated (2, 4, 5, 6, 8) and four that are arguably violated (1, 7, 9, 10). The only one that I really can't argue about is 3. And that's just in the first ten.

Right now, our government has no problem whatsoever with decreasing our rights.

Re:think of the children! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18008960)

Ever hear of incorporation? Ever since Gitlow v New York, 1925 the first amendment has applied to the states.

Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gitlow_v._New_York [wikipedia.org]

Re:think of the children! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18009162)

SECTION 4. FREEDOM OF SPEECH
        All persons may speak, write and publish freely, being
responsible for the abuse of that liberty. In trials for
libel, both civil and criminal, the truth, when published
with good motives and for justifiable ends, shall be a
sufficient defense.
(Source: Illinois Constitution.)

Think of the Geeks! (4, Interesting)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009028)

Many a /.er treats /. as a social nw site where you might try to build karma, bitch about MS etc etc.

Re:Think of the Geeks! (5, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009606)

Many a /.er treats /. as a social nw site where you might try to build karma, bitch about MS etc etc.

You've just nailed (accidentally or not) what I see as the second biggest problem here (after the blatant unconstitutionality of the proposed legislation)...

What does count as a "social networking" site? Would SlashDot count? Would most blogs that allow comment posting? Would USENET, for that matter? The full text of the bill basically sounds like it violates Free (online) Assembly rather than Free Speech.

The concept of "social networking", as used here, really has no meaning except by example. When you outlaw meaningless ideas, you open the door for overly aggressive AGs and DAs to start creatively interpreting the law to apply in areas not even the most paranoid of the beanie-wearing crowd could have predicted. Case in point, the DOJ (in)famously held a series of lectures on how to apply the patriot act and subsequent antiterrorism legislation to your friendly neighborhood weed dealer. Riiiiiiiight, protection from Osama.



But, but, but... Think of the children!

I believe what they are really doing here... (2, Interesting)

Gentlewhisper (759800) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009080)

Is to prevent pedos to gain "anonymous" access to social networking sites when chatting up their perspective victims.

Re:I believe what they are really doing here... (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009132)

So they'll be targeting internet cafes next then? Fuckers.

No, it's not. (4, Interesting)

AlexDV (759799) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009136)

No, it's not. Read the text of the bill. It doesn't specify anything about pedophiles or anonymous access. Heck, it doesn't even attempt to specify what exactly constitutes a "social networking." This aspect alone makes this bill virtually impossible to implement in any meaningful way.

Secondly, even if there was a definitive definition of social networking, just how on earth would you be able to block all sites that fit that profile? A gigantic black list? I'm happen to be the network admin for a small Illinois library, so if this becomes law, I'm one of the people who's going to have to deal with the mess. I'd be very interested in knowing exactly how the heck Senator Murphy thinks this would work. My guess is that he really has no idea what he's talking about, but thought that this would play well with the "think of the children" crowd.

Re:No, it's not. (5, Funny)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009186)

That's easy. Just whitelist all the pages which are not social networking pages.

And that would be porn, with a few slides of usable content.

Re:No, it's not. (0, Offtopic)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009522)

That's easy. Just whitelist all the pages which are not social networking pages.

And that would be porn, with a few slides of usable content.

And Timecube [timecube.com] !

Put that way, the bill doesn't sound so bad after all.

Re:No, it's not. (2, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009564)

It's most likely not intended to universally block all access to social networking sites. There are, after all, internet cafes and home internet access available.

It's most likely intended to give the librarian the authority to tell someone who is using the library computers to surf myspace.com to get off the computer and let someone waiting to do their homework have it.

We are talking about libraries, after all...

Re:think of the children! (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009114)

Don't get me started on THAT again...(you had to be there)

Re:think of the children! (0, Offtopic)

www.galvan.org (1063982) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009128)

lol The time has come to galvanize [mycitytoolbar.com]
toolbar [conduit.com] powered by Conduit

God (1)

romland (192158) | more than 7 years ago | (#18008920)

Yeah. Sure.

Attention craving politicians...

Is there too much money involved if you were to ban, say DRM in all shapes and forms? It'd give you some attention too.

Good. (4, Insightful)

seinman (463076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18008952)

Good for him. Have you been to the library lately? Just try to get some work done on a computer there during the first few hours after school lets out. Every computer is some punk 15 year old on MySpace. Let's get library computers doing what they should be doing: helping people with legitimate research. Not helping emo kids whine about their girlfriends.

Re:Good. (3, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#18008988)

it's the lesser of 2 evils. would you preffer a minor inconvience, or have less freedom of speech?

Re:Good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18009086)

False dillema.

Library computers *are* being misused as recreational tools instead of tools of research or personal enrichment.

While setting policies on what patrons can and can't do with these resources will undoubtedly result in some arbitrary and inconsistent policy, it will not result in "less freedom of speech".

Do you bitch that you are not allowed to throw parties and yell in the library too?

Re:Good. (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009140)

Have the state governments passed laws outlawing yelling in the library? No. So why the fuck do they need to do the same here?

Re:Good. (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009324)

While setting policies on what patrons can and can't do with these resources will undoubtedly result in some arbitrary and inconsistent policy

Compared to arbitrary and inconsistent fines levied against libraries by local police? Or do you mean broad handed banning of anything remotely "social networking" like say wikipedia because some DA is an attention whore and idiot?

Go find some fascists paradise to live in and leave those of us who don't want big brother watching us crap alone. God knows that 99.9% percent of people who complain about such things would never go talk to the head of the library about, write them a letter or propose to them how they could go about fixing the problem. Oh wait I forgot, this is slashdot and the very thought of real live social interaction makes most of the people here get a heart attack.

Where did "freedom of speech" enter into it. (3, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009322)

"Freedom of speech" implies the right to hold/express an opinion not "free computers for spending the whole day instant messaging while people who need to look something up on Google are standing fuming behind you".

If you desperately need to use MySpace then go across the street and pay $1 an hour in the cybercaf like everybody else.

Re:Where did "freedom of speech" enter into it. (3, Insightful)

krotkruton (967718) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009816)

"Freedom of speech" implies the right to hold/express an opinion

How about holding the opinion that my time on MySpace is worth just as much as your time on Google? I'm not a big MySpace user, but you are putting values to the way people spend their time. If your community feels that people shouldn't use library computers to get on MySpace, then campaign to make it a policy of your local library, but don't support some bill that will make it a requirement of every library. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean there isn't some community that only uses their libraries to access MySpace.

Re:Good. (1)

ATMD (986401) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009498)

How the hell is that freedom of speech?

Is freedom to visit whatever website we choose now also covered under the First Ammendment?

Re:Good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18009698)

How the hell is that freedom of speech?

Is freedom to visit whatever website we choose now also covered under the First Ammendment?


It is when we are arguing the great chinese firewall. But maybe it's not when we are talking about the US? /me thinks that the amount of things falling under "free speech" in the US is decreasing rather quickly.

Re:Good. (1, Troll)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18008994)

You get what you pay for, dude. If you don't want to compete with the emo kiddies for use of the taxpayer-provided computers, then buy your own.

-jcr

Re:Good. (3, Insightful)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009122)

Maybe the grandparent can afford a home computer, but that doesn't necessarily mean everyone can. The point of a library is to educate and assist the public, even/especially those who wouldn't be able to afford similar services. Internet access is not a luxury anymore, and even those who can't afford it may need it to search/apply for a job, get information, or send that quick message to their brother across the country.

Given that I'd still say this bill is absolutely ridiculous. A better solution would be implementing blocks on a few clearly labeled computers, or allow librarians to use their judgment to give serious users preference over frivolous users if necessary. For some reason I doubt it will pass anyway.

Re:Good. (5, Informative)

AlexDV (759799) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009170)

Given that I'd still say this bill is absolutely ridiculous. A better solution would be implementing blocks on a few clearly labeled computers, or allow librarians to use their judgment to give serious users preference over frivolous users if necessary. For some reason I doubt it will pass anyway.

I work for a public library, and this is exactly what we do now. Every day when school gets out, we're inundated with junior high kids coming in to monopolize our computers for their daily MySpace, RuneScape, and AIM fix. The solution that we've come up with is to reserve one third of our computers for "non recreational use." Specifically, this means no social networking sites, recreational IM, MMORPGs, or games of any kind. Basically, it's at the discretion of the staff to determine when this policy is being violated, and to discus it with the patron.

In short, we've already solved this problem without any help from our meddling "representatives" in Springfield. Same goes for porn. We don't filter our Internet access, but we do reserve the right to ask people to avoid sites that include explicit content, because the computers are all in a publicly viewable area. This is part of our own Internet Use Agreement, not some piece of legislation dreamed up by Senators with nothing better to do. In other words, we're perfectly capable of handling most of the perceived problems with public access computers without any interference from the government.

Re:Good. (1, Flamebait)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009588)

. The point of a library is to educate and assist the public, even/especially those who wouldn't be able to afford similar services.

Public use means just that, not public use that meets with the approval of the poster to whom I was replying. The emo kiddies he was bitching about are just as entitled as he is to use the machines in question.

-jcr

Re:Good. (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009254)

Oh, absolutely!

There is no reason to expect something useful or educational from a public library.

People who can't afford computers do not deserve to use them.

I couldn't agree with what you're saying more!!!!

Re:Good. (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009206)

Good for him. Have you been to the library lately? Just try to get some work done on a computer there during the first few hours after school lets out. Every computer is some punk 15 year old on MySpace. Let's get library computers doing what they should be doing: helping people with legitimate research. Not helping emo kids whine about their girlfriends.
Good point. However, shouldn't this be at the library's discretion rather than a state law? That is, libraries that feel that this is a problem can set up a proxy locally that bans access to myspace, and libraries where this isn't a problem (because they are too far away from a school) wouldn't need to.

Re:Good. (3, Insightful)

AlexDV (759799) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009274)

Good point. However, shouldn't this be at the library's discretion rather than a state law? That is, libraries that feel that this is a problem can set up a proxy locally that bans access to myspace, and libraries where this isn't a problem (because they are too far away from a school) wouldn't need to.

I work for a public library and, yes, we are perfectly capable of handling this without crazy legislation being shoved down our throats by clueless politicians. The simple solution is to reserve a portion of our computers for non-recreational use and locate them far enough away from the ones that noisy teens frequent so that people can get real work done in peace and quite.

Wow, that was simple! We even managed to come up with that all on our own, without any help from Big Brother. We librarians are might smart and resourceful people, let me tell you. /sarcasm

Re:Good. (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009412)

It's a great solution.

Until some latchkey kid doesn't get to play games with his friends after school decides to whine about the unoccupied bank of computers and convinces his parents to sue: after all, there's no law requiring you to keep that bank free, so you shouldn't put any restrictions.. right?

It's the same thing with cigarette laws. It ends up being an all-or-nothing propositon because people make a stink if there aren't any laws and a restaurant wants to be non-smoking, so the legislature steps in and bans 'em from all restaurants.

"at the library's discretion..." (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009360)

Surely it should be at the discretion of whoever's paying for the computers.

If that's the feds then they should get to decide.

Re:Good. (3, Insightful)

Library Spoff (582122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009296)

>>legitimate research
Posting on Slashdot?

Why shouldn`t kids use Myspace? Maybe we should get rid of all Fiction books as well - I mean they`re
not for legitimate research.

Libraries are for everyone - don`t be such a snob.

Re:Good. (1)

sg_oneill (159032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009424)

At least kids are reading and writing.

Re:Good. (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009566)

Have you been to the library lately? Just try to get some work done on a computer there during the first few hours after school lets out. Every computer is some punk 15 year old on MySpace.
I agree with you that it is in society's best interest to get as few people wasting their lives on myspace as possible. Just the electricity spent to power the HTTP requests is a tragic waste that we should seek to minimize. But there are more effective techniques than an Illinois state statute of dubious constitutionality. It singles out a single party- really, it makes a clumsy attempt to define a new legal class around it- and prevents public communication with anyone in that class from within what is definitely a public realm. In principle, yeah, who cares, it's myspace. But the fact that myspace is a stupid site has no legal meaning and can not possibly have any bearing on precedent. It's not like someone can point to this law later on and say "well this doesn't apply here because it was obviously intended for lame sites like myspace." Legally that means nothing, since we're entitled to equal protection under the law, and lameness has no legal meaning unless carefully (incorrectly) defined. If only "lame" sites fall under the purview of some law then you might just be running a lame site yourself. They'll have to define "social networking site" very very carefully, these Illinois politicians. Politicians are dumber than programmers. Programmers think "software is hard". So imagine how the policians are doing with the code they're writing. They'll leave this statute lying around, a court will find it, and libraries will have to block google and *.gov sites. Or the statute might not just be misinterpreted by a court- it might be overturned. It's trying to carefully punch a hole through a constitutional right. If it were overturned, myspace could gain invinciblity and we'd never be rid of it in libraries. Kids and hobos would walk in the door with a solemn right to myspace.

A law impresses voters, and unfortunately some people are only in a position to introduce laws, and cannot issue executive orders to state agencies. But a law is a horrible approach here, and there are much better ones. There is no reason Illinois couldn't simply handle this kind of thing with a directive to the state DoE- or whoever in Illinois handles this stuff- that libraries be provided with filters they can use as they see fit. If they're really itching to pass a statute, they can pass one forcing the state to allocate a certain amount of additional funds every year for libraries to use for this sort of thing. A simple filter under the control of individual librarians or library workers will do fine and has the least potential of backfiring. These people are both a) in a position to know which sites need blocking and b) also in a position to provisionally whitelist any site for anyone who asks- maybe someone really is doing a term paper on white chicks who like to screw black guys. That way, myspace mostly gets blocked, without anyone actually saying "myspace", or preventing use of myspace from public libraries, simply by virtue of the fact that myspace annoys librarians, and most library patrons won't bother if they find a site blocked and have to ask that it be unblocked.

If you're a government that wants to get myspace out of your public libraries, you don't ban it with a law. You have to be more subtle than that, or else you're fascist, you have no class. Fascists make people feel like they're being pushed around by a government. A smart government that's good at policy can sort of just set things up so that myspace slides out of their libraries without anyone being explicit or forceful about it. This is done by smart executive action. Implementing solutions to problems without resorting to fascism is the purview of the executive.

But (3, Insightful)

KKlaus (1012919) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009718)

Library computers shouldn't be used for myspace, but nevertheless this is no place for the law. Have it be library policy, and give the library tools to enforce it, i.e. throwing people out, then banning them, and then trespassing carries hefty enough penalties that I'm sure it will be fine. The desire to fine people or (worse) criminalize them for things that annoy you when far less severe measures are available and effective is just plain wrong. We don't need anymore criminals in this country, and we don't need anymore people thinking that it's ok to fine them a couple hundred dollars for browsing a website when they're not supposed to. It's just a site.

And to the extent that, in good slashdot tradition, I didn't read the article, this statement should be intrepeted as broader than this specific instance. I.e. I don't know what the actual suggested "consequence" of violation would be, so MMMV here.

Re:Good. (1)

SamSim (630795) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009830)

Sure, but do you really need a law for that? Instead of, e.g., filtering software?

First, define "social networking". (4, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18008954)

Technically, you could argue that all USENET groups (and therefore Google, as Google carries newsgroups) are a form of social networking. All sites that provide blogs (such as Groklaw, Slashdot, The Guardian newspaper, the BBC News, CNN) would also be covered. Hell, the discussion pages on all Wikis are technically blogs, so there goes Wikipedia, friends and family. Many technical sites provide web archives of mailing lists and/or web-based forums, so there goes Sourceforge and any University or College that carries Open Source products. Many commercial software websites have online chat rooms for technical issues, so you'd have to eliminate those as well. Virtually all fansites for movies, TV shows, etc, also provide some kind of web-based posting service, so you'd end up kicking those out as well. Oh, and Craigslist would need to die, too.

By my reckoning, this leaves you with FTP sites that have no upload facility, the few remaining Gopher servers, and maybe the local taxi cab company.

Re:First, define "social networking". (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009230)

Hmm, I'd say a social networking site would be one where the people are the center, not some subject of discussion.

So that would include myspace, facebooks, dating sites and "professional" networking sites (which help you find jobs).

But not wikipedia, slashdot, usenet, etc.

Re:First, define "social networking". (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009610)

Hmm, I'd say a social networking site would be one where the people are the center, not some subject of discussion.

How you would define "social networking" has no bearing on what the law says or how courts would interpret it.

Re:First, define "social networking". (2, Insightful)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009768)

How you would define "social networking" has no bearing on what the law says or how courts would interpret it.
Exactly. And that means that the law really should define what it means by these words. Or else, the impact of such law would be completely random and unpredictable. A little bit like those "intellectual property" paragraphs in the failed European Constitution (IP was never actually defined anywhere...)

Speech (3, Insightful)

okinawa_hdr (1062664) | more than 7 years ago | (#18008974)

It's about controlling free speech and information dissemination. When there are vast networks of information distribution controlled by the people, that raises eyebrows.

Re:Speech (1)

AlexDV (759799) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009090)

Anyone else find it interesting that this is coming up just before an election where several of the leading Democratic candidates (Barack Obama and John Edwards come to mind) are using social networking sites as a central part of their campaign strategy? Even if this bill wasn't proposed for purely political reasons, it's still a very ill-conceived idea. These days, almost any well-know website has aspects that could be deemed "social" in nature.

Disclosure: I'm a registered Republic, although philosophically I'm closer to Libertarian. This isn't a cheap shot at Republicans... but it is the first thing that came to mind when I read the bill.

Re:Speech (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009242)

Lets see, the Bill is sponsored by a Republican, no Democrat co-sponsors. In a Democratic controlled state, this bill is going nowhere.

Re:Speech (1)

Jessta (666101) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009762)

You mean, small networks of information controlled by the company that runs the social networking site.
Do you realise that anything you post to myspace,facebook etc. means that you have licenced them to distribute it in any way they wish.
They own your information. If they think your blog entries might make a nice book they can print it, maybe they like a photo you made they can sell it to a newspaper.

The people don't control this information.

*scratches head* (3, Insightful)

zCyl (14362) | more than 7 years ago | (#18008998)

Seriously speaking, what percentage of parents are terrified of social networking sites these days? I remember back in the 90s when everybody thought the internet was out to seduce and corrupt their children, but this is 2007. You can find worse things in google than found on most social networking sites. So how many people are really still afraid of these mysterious-yet-elusive "internet predators"?

Re:*scratches head* (2, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009024)

Of course, if one wanted to really protect the children, then you'd have to take a look at where kids really do encounter sexual predators. # 1 is in their own homes. #2, churches. #3, schools.

-jcr

Re:*scratches head* (3, Informative)

bmo (77928) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009368)

"Seriously speaking, what percentage of parents are terrified of social networking sites these days?"

Plenty, if they read newspapers. Here's some trolling by Combs, published in my local paper.

http://www.cagle.com/politicalcartoons/PCcartoons/ combs.asp [cagle.com]

How would _you_ mod that as a slashdot moderator? Me: -1 Troll, -1 Flamebait -1 Stupid (if only) -1 overrated (so it can't be taken away in metamoderation).

--
BMO

hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18009002)

Illinois state senator, Matt Murphy (R-27, Palatine)
Is it telling that I misread his district as "Palpatine"?

I wonder...

R-27, Palatine (4, Funny)

Konster (252488) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009004)

I had to look twice to see that Palatine wasn't Palpatine.

Fucking legislator larvae. (2, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009008)

Most of the legislators at the state level are those who aren't even smart enough to make it into the US Congress (and considering some of the blithering idiots who have infested that institution, that's saying something.)

-jcr

Re:Fucking legislator larvae. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009364)

Most of the legislators at the state level are those who aren't even smart enough to make it into the US Congress (and considering some of the blithering idiots who have infested that institution, that's saying something.)

I think politics in general is an employer of last resort. Like the army and the police.

Re:Fucking legislator larvae. (1)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009456)

Most of the legislators at the state level are those who aren't even smart enough to make it into the US Congress

Or they are people who actually want to impact lives, and realize that the majority of governing in general is not done at the federal level.

Or want to be involved in government, but don't want to get into the high-profile grind of federal office where they will spend most of their time raising money to get themselves re-elected.

Or maybe want to stay near home and impact the communities where they live, instead of spending all their time trying to attach pork-barrel amendments in the hopes that some of that money might trickle down to their constituents.

Or, hell, if you want to assume that the only reason that people get involved in local politics is because they can't make it in federal politics, maybe getting experience and a nice attachment to a resume for when they do try to move on. Despite being "too stupid" for federal office by virtue of serving in state office, I would be willing to bet nearly all congressmen on the federal level served somewhere at a state level first.

But no. I suppose your opinion is what passes for insightful around here.

Slightly off-topic, but I have to ask... (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009034)

what is the difference between "banning" a website and "censoring" website (ie. the www)?

It seems the banning is used to bring about positive connotations while, censoring is used to bring about negative ones, but they are essentially the same.

Re:Slightly off-topic, but I have to ask... (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009172)

It's like what's the difference between a freedom fighter and a militant rebel?

Re:Slightly off-topic, but I have to ask... (2, Funny)

VValdo (10446) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009342)

It's like what's the difference between a freedom fighter and a militant rebel?

Which was Luke Skywalker again?

W

Proposal to ban People (4, Insightful)

Digital_Mercenary (136288) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009038)

Lets stop fooling around and do it right!

(Global proposition 999)

People are responsible for the most dangerous and irresponsible acts that can be committed against other people. I propose we ban "people" all together. Stop repeating a history of mistakes and destroy the worlds problems in one fell swoop. End people. They rape, torture, kill without regard for themselves or others. All over the world people are forced to jail people in order to protect themselves, yet the problems continue. They have children, abuse the children, who intern have more children with no end of abuse in site. Their is no way to ensure a person will never mistreat another person unless all people are banned from existence.

So in conclusion, the only way to provide a safe loving environment for the future of our world is... the immediate and complete removal of all people from the face of the earth. Please support proposition 999 for a people free planet. "Get rid of the people, get rid of the problems."

(Yes I've been drinking.)

Re:Proposal to ban People (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009336)

Not only that, they emit greenhouse gases too.

Re:Proposal to ban People (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18009526)

I totally agree and I haven't been drinking. Often I look at this planet and think that the good doesn't make up for the bad.

flamebait headline (5, Informative)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009042)

The headline chosen by kdawson was "llinois Bill Would Ban Social Networking Sites", which is a ludicrous distortion.

Disagreement (1)

pionzypher (886253) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009054)

Here's my reason for disagreeing with this. If I were in a low income situation and forced to go to the public library for all my computing. I'd be pissed to find that I- as a consenting adult could not go to websites like myspace. If the small amount of money that I make is taxed, paying for roads and other public services.... I'd better be able to check a damn non-adult(read porn) website. Though I can understand (though perhaps have objections to) blocking all adult websites, social networking sites don't fall anywhere near the rubric.

Argue for public safety all you want. People determined to get on myspace will simply use a friends computer. Taxpayer dollars paying for this makes it a tough issue to call, but it seems to me that some sort of median level of acceptability should help define the standard, not exceptions.

then again, the alchohol might be talking.

and yes, I sympathize with the parents out there... but I doubt anyone here will claim that libraries blocking myspace will deter a teen from access. A bit like the DRM situation.

No social network... no job networking either? (3, Insightful)

silentbozo (542534) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009062)

So I can't use a social networking site at a library... even to network for a JOB? [linkedin.com]

What about people (for example some small bands) who maintain their websites through services such as MySpace, because they can't get, afford, or know how to do the coding to set up a website of their own?

Or users of services like Facebook, where a school organization or club may be hosted mostly or entirely on the service, because the tools are extremely convenient to use and FREE? All of a sudden, those tools become off limits - neither club officers nor the members can communicate until an alternate (and probably more expensive) method is set up.

Someone is being paid way too much money to come up with these ridiculous bills.

Re:No social network... no job networking either? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009464)

Your argument sounds a lot like the bittorrent argument: There are some legitimate uses, many illegitimate uses, so lets keep it... ...except this is a library and there are 'appropriate' uses, as determined by the State/County/City & by the librarians themselves.

Someone is being paid way too much money to come up with these ridiculous bills.
State legislators usually get paid very little.

A case study in sucky Internet regulation (5, Insightful)

RyanGWU82 (19872) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009082)

Wow, I'm not sure I've ever seen a bill this bad. Reading the full text, I see that the legislation's primary function is defined in one paragraph:

Each public library must prohibit access to social networking websites on all computers made available to the public in the library. Each school must prohibit access to social networking websites on all computers made available to students in the school.


The bill goes on to define the key terminology it uses: administrative unit, computer, public library, school, and school board.

All well and good? Well, they never define what constitutes a "social networking website"! Which of these do you think would qualify: Slashdot? Reddit? Digg? Evite? Delicious? Blogger? We could debate this to death. (In fact, it probably is being debated at some Web 2.0 conference.) Without a clear definition of the most crucial term in the bill, how are schools supposed to know how to enforce it? How are the rest of us supposed to know what's allowed and what's not?

If a legislator took the effort to become knowledgable about the Internet, understand how it operates, and then proposed some carefully-crafted regulation, I wouldn't get so emotionally angry about it. Instead we get Ted Stevens' rant about tubes, and crap like this, because people don't take the time to understand what they're talking about. We should expect more out of our elected officials. They wield significant power, and it's ridiculous that they choose to use it without thinking.

Ryan

Re:A case study in sucky Internet regulation (1)

dygituljunky (755522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009130)

There's a good reason that a bill like this didn't pass the Senate: it's clearly unconstitutional. Even if this made it into law in Illinois, it wouldn't take very long for the Illinois or U.S. Supreme Courts (or even a lower court) to overturn the law.

- dygituljunky

Would be interesting from sysadmin point-of-view (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009108)

Blocking msn, yahoo and skype is a sysadmin nightmare.... every user wants this on corporate networks... since they're addicted to the stuff at home. Whatever proxy is used; whatever the rules and 'policies'... these things have a nasty way of tunnelling and punching through the firewalls... a week after a new 'policy'.. you see a few guys chatting happily; and worms and botnets start eating the bandwidth.

I'd love for this bill to become law; so we have a simple and effective method to ban such sites. Interesting times ahead indeed.

Yes, it would be. (2, Insightful)

AlexDV (759799) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009214)

As the network administrator for an Illinois public library, I agree that this would indeed be a implementation nightmare (and that's not even taking into account the major ethical dilemma that such censorship presents for librarians). Exactly how does Senator Murphy propose that this be implemented if it becomes law? The bill doesn't even give a definition of what should be considered "social networking."

There's probably no sane way to detect "social networking" features based on a pages content, so the only possibly way to block them would be a gigantic black list. Any who exactly is going to maintain that? The state of Illinois? I don't think so. If they try it, I wish them much luck in compiling their list of every social networking site on "that intarweb thingy."

Re:Yes, it would be. (1)

benplaut (993145) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009352)

A social networking site doesn't work without people. Therefore, it wouldn't be a gigantic blocklist -- just how many good sized networking sites are there, anyway? Most are just half-assed attempts to get a bit of myspace's marketshare.

Re:Yes, it would be. (2, Funny)

candude43 (998769) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009362)

As the network administrator for an Illinois public library, I agree that this would indeed be a implementation nightmare (and that's not even taking into account the major ethical dilemma that such censorship presents for librarians). Exactly how does Senator Murphy propose that this be implemented if it becomes law?
Well, there's all these tubes, see? They're just like pipes, right? So there must be spigots. You just have to find the right ones and turn them counterclockwise.

Drugs are bad mmmmkay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18009204)

This reminds me of an old episode of South Park, where the school councillor is parroting: 'Drugs. Drugs are bad mmmmkay.' Never mind why drugs are bad, or defining *what* drugs actually are.

No, the councillor has been told: 'Drugs are bad!' Just like these chaps have been told: 'Social networking sites are bad!'

So they stupidly go ahead and try to ban something they don't even understand. Any chance of getting someone in charge who understands thems thar Intarweb tubes?!

Should be up to the librarian (2, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009288)

If their main concern is people hogging the computers using these sites, then there is a fix that doesn't require legislation. Give the librarians the power to boot people off of computers if others are waiting and they are doing something frivilous. That is what they did at the computer labs at my university. Seemed to work pretty well.

I'm all for it (2)

butane317 (998898) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009326)

People will bitch and moan about personal freedom, but the public education and extensive library system are given to you for free by the government not because it has to, but because it's in the best interest of the government to do so. Education is critical to the government, because dumb people don't do anything useful. They should have every right to keep you from using their equipment for anything other than its original purpose: learning. If people want to fuck around on MySpace, they can do it on their own.

well I would find this welcoming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18009370)

considering they're doing it the right way and taking care of it on the state level instead of going directly to the federal level first, which is like calling the national guard out to stomp on a spider. The states should practice their rights more often like this.

in my opinion I'd like to see myspace blocked at a public library. My tax dollars are not going into a t3 connection so emogrll3321341 can upload shitty pictures of herself or spread gossip to her classmates she just saw at school. Do it at home or at a net cafe. Waste YOUR money on that shit, not mine.

It would also free up the computers for serious research and school reports.

Ugh. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18009374)

I'm considering registering an account so I can block kdawson's articles simply due to this horribly misleading headline.

Terminological confusion. (2, Insightful)

Wilson_6500 (896824) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009386)

Isn't the WWW by definition a social network? I mean, nearly if not everything I do on the WWW involves in some way content that was created by someone else and then disseminated to the Internet for consumption.

What's the point? (1)

robcfg (1005359) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009502)

When they say they want to forbid use of social networking, what are they really trying to do? I think some countries have a passion for over-protection and security. Restricting what people can use (or see, or hear, etc) is not a good path. Nothing can replace education. Nothing. By restricting people instead of showing them how to do things and the risks of doing it, people is becoming more and more vulnerable. When I was a kid I was told not to follow or talk with strangers. That applies to real life and to Internet.

Example of poorly implemented legislation (3, Insightful)

oKAMi-InfoSec (1043042) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009504)

There are so many things wrong with this bill...it is difficult to start, but two areas seem particularly wearisome:
  • No definition of "social networking site": this leaves sites such as linkedin and slashdot and any site with a comment feature in limbo.
  • No definition exists to identify what is "reasonable effort towards compliance with the law"

Contact information (3, Informative)

zantolak (701554) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009550)

If anyone would like to contact Senator Murphy about this, his email is info [at] gomattmurphy.com. I just did.

Who? And Why? (2, Funny)

Lance_Denmark (985878) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009622)

What I want to know is, who is this 'Illinois Bill' and why does he have so much power?

Who is Bill? (0, Redundant)

mikearthur (888766) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009684)

I'm from the UK, so bear with me. I just don't understand why you let people called "Bill" into politics at all. The only thing I seem to hear about them is the problems they keep causing.

Who are these "Bill" characters, and why do they keep causing trouble?

Censorship, smenshorship (2, Informative)

Dunkirk (238653) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009792)

It's inevitable: there will be people complaining about how this is an oppressive form of censorship. Let's face it: that argument is why this post was "greenlighted." But there's no censorship here; at least not in this case. The government is in no way telling those sites what to do with their content.

It's NOT the job of the government to give out free internet access as though it were an "inalienable right." If you want to go to those sites, and the library doesn't give you that permission, then go buy a computer and do it on your own.
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