Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Censorware Not Good, Just Better Than COPA

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the something-to-think-about dept.

Censorship 146

Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton writes in with with an essay that starts "On March 22nd, District Court Judge Lowell Reed ruled that the Child Online Protection Act was unconstitutional, partly because the judge called it 'vague and overbroad,' and partly because less restrictive means existed, such as Internet blocking software. I'll leave others to comment on the legal issues, but blocking software is something that I've studied, and it's important to make sure this decision is not seen as some kind of vindication for the 'censorware' industry." Tap that link below to read the rest of his story.

The thrust of the judge's findings about blocking software was that it blocks a high proportion of pornography, blocks a low proportion of non-pornographic Web sites, and that it is difficult for most kids get around. I think that these conclusions are correct for the purpose of the decision he was making -- in other words, blocking software blocks a high proportion of pornography compared to the law in question, and is difficult to get around compared to the law in question. But let's not get carried away -- blocking software is not that accurate, and not that hard to defeat.

Consider first the accuracy rates cited by the judge. Citing expert witness reports, he wrote, "I find that filters generally block about 95% of sexually explicit material", and then quoted several different rates for overblocking provided by expert witness reports, ranging from about 4% to 11%. I wrote earlier about the different ways to interpret overblocking error rates -- the gist was that if you care about the constitutional issues with filter use, then you look at the percentage of blocked sites that are non-pornographic (i.e. for every porn site that gets blocked, how many research sites get canned along with it), and that number tends to be high. On the other hand, if you simply care about the effectiveness of blocking software in a home setting where there is no constitutional issue raised, then you look at the percentage of non-pornographic sites that are blocked, and that number tends to be low.

For example, suppose for the sake of argument that 1% of Web sites in a given sample are sexually explicit, or 100 Web sites out of 10,000. To use Judge Reed's numbers, suppose that 95% of those porn sites, or exactly 95 in this sample, are blocked, whereas of the other 9,900 sites, 5%, or exactly 495 of them, are not blocked. Then the percentage of non-porn sites that are blocked is only 5%, but the percentage of blocked sites that are non-porn is actually 83% (495 blocked non-porn sites, out of a total of 495+95=590 blocked sites). One of our past studies of blocking software did indeed sometimes find error rates of about 80%, due to errors caused by IP address blocking and filters being tripped up by keywords (even when "keyword blocking" features were supposedly turned off -- because in that case the program still blocked sites on its master blacklist, and those blacklists are frequently built by scanning the Web for keywords).

Another portion of the judge's ruling dealt with the difficulty of getting around blocking software:

Filtering companies actively take steps to make sure that children are not able to come up with ways to circumvent their filters. Filtering companies monitor the Web to identify any methods for circumventing filters, and when such methods are found, the filtering companies respond by putting in extra protections in an attempt to make sure that those methods do not succeed with their products... It is difficult for children to circumvent filters because of the technical ability and expertise necessary to do so by disabling the product on the actual computer or by accessing the Web through a proxy or intermediary computer and successfully avoiding a filter on the minor's computer... Accessing the Web through a proxy or intermediary computer will not enable a minor to avoid a filtering product that analyzes the content of the Web page requested, in addition to where the page is coming from. Any product that contains a real-time, dynamic filtering component cannot be avoided by use of a proxy, whether the filter is located on the network or on the user's computer.
After the ruling came out, I tried some of the best-known blocking software programs to see how easily they could be defeated: Net Nanny, SurfControl, CyberSitter, and AOL Parental Controls. Net Nanny and SurfControl apparently could not block https:// sites at all, so I was able to get to https://www.StupidCensorship.com/ and access anything I wanted from there, despite the fact that that site had been public for over a year. Apparently I do have the "technical ability and expertise necessary" to "access the Web through a proxy", but then again I'm not a minor, so, kids, don't hurt yourself trying that.

CyberSitter did intercept the https:// request so it did block StupidCensorship.com, but it didn't know about some of the other proxy sites that we had mailed out to our users recently. One of those did however get blocked because the word "hacking" appeared on the page -- as in,

This site is a tool for circumventing Internet censorship to promote free speech. It does not enable any hacking, cracking or any illegal activities (since it doesn't let you to access any sites that you couldn't access from home anyway).
so it's probably safe to say that if the CyberSitter filter is that paranoid, it would result in a good deal of overblocking as well. AOL Parental Controls also did not block the latest proxies, although it wouldn't let me load sites like Playboy through the proxy, presumably because it recognized the contents of the page and blocked it (so on that point, Judge Reed was right).

But none of the products could stop the doomsday weapon, which is to burn an Ubuntu Linux CD and boot from that, bypassing any security software installed under Windows. I can see your eyes glazing over at the thought of kids attempting to do that, but it's merely an unfamiliar process to most people, not actually difficult. (I've been saying for years, that with the greater difficulty of using Linux over Windows, there's nothing cool or clever about running it just for its own sake so you can feel badass, and the only time you need it is if you want to do something that only Linux lets you do. Well, here's something!)

But in spite of everything, I think the judge's conclusions about blocking software were still broadly correct, because he was comparing the merits of blocking software against the merits of a law that would have prohibited commercial pornography from being published on the Web in the United States. In talking about the "effectiveness" of such a law, the judge and lawyers cited the fact that as many as 75% of adult sites were hosted overseas anyway. But even that high number understates the situation, because hypothetically if all the porn on the Web in the U.S. did get outlawed, it would be easy for anyone to spend all their time looking at porn from outside the country. When you're talking about a supply of content that is so large that nobody could finish looking at it all if they spent the rest of their life trying, it doesn't really matter if 25% or 50% or 75% is located within your legal jurisdiction. I never stop hoping that a judge will say, "Look, pictures of naked people don't hurt anyone, no, not even people under 18. Shoot, when I was 13 and president of Future Lawyers of America, my friend gave me a copy of Playboy as a down payment for my unsuccessful attempts to defend him on curfew-breaking charges in Foot v. Ass, and look how I turned out." But even a judge who firmly believed that people under 18 were harmed by pornographic images, would have found little reason to uphold this law.

cancel ×

146 comments

Nothing to see here, please move along (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18606405)

Dammit! They've gotten to Slashdot too!

Blocked for cause vs. blocked in error (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606519)

The thrust of the judge's findings about blocking software was that it blocks a high proportion of pornography

..was difficult to read without having thoughts I shouldn't be having at work :P

Anyways I'd argue his math is flawed as we don't know the number of porn sites in existance (and how do we rank it? by site? what about mirrored domains pointing to the same content? etc) along with the non-porn sites being blocked (was it offensive material that borderlines porn? Something a parent installing a filter would want blocked anyways?) etc. Pulling numbers out of you ass without backing it up only results in figures favorable to your cause...

Re:Blocked for cause vs. blocked in error (3, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606623)

The thrust of the judge's findings about blocking software was that it blocks a high proportion of pornography ..was difficult to read without having thoughts I shouldn't be having at work :P

What is it about judges that do it for you? Is it the authority? Or is it just the robes and gavel?

Re:Blocked for cause vs. blocked in error (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18606887)

Re:Blocked for cause vs. blocked in error (3, Insightful)

Silver Sloth (770927) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606673)

There are two basic issues here
  1. As you point out the figures are 'finger in the air' stuff
  2. How do you define pornography. Like art, I cannot, but I know it when I see it.
But I think the judges point is still valid. Parent installed filters do a better job than the alternatives and avoid constitutional free speach issues - well, maybe I'd better discuss that last point with my teenage son!

Re:Blocked for cause vs. blocked in error (0, Offtopic)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18607501)

How do you define pornography. Like art, I cannot, but I know it when I see it. So do followers of Sharia. This issue goes far deeper than even your point.

Re:Blocked for cause vs. blocked in error (1)

Silver Sloth (770927) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608441)

Which, at the end of the day, is another pointer towards filters imposed by parents rather than filters imposed by governments. As we each have our separate ideas about what constitutes porn I, as a parent, wish to make decisions for my children, rather than the 'authorities'.

Re:Blocked for cause vs. blocked in error (1)

VWJedi (972839) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608061)

Anyways I'd argue his math is flawed as we don't know the number of porn sites in existance...
... Pulling numbers out of you ass without backing it up only results in figures favorable to your cause...

Did you actually read what he was saying? He made up some numbers to demonstrate his point. To paraphrase his statements...

You can pick one of two methods of calculating "the overblocking rate". With these numbers (that I made up), you can say "the overblocking rate is 5%" or "the overblocking rate is 83%". Both statements are factually correct, so you need to be specific about what method of calculation you're using.

Re:Blocked for cause vs. blocked in error (1)

zergl (841491) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608197)

..was difficult to read without having thoughts I shouldn't be having at work :P

I dunno, but should you be reading /. at work in the first place? :P

Doomsday weapon easily stopped? (5, Insightful)

A Name Similar to Di (875837) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606529)

But none of the products could stop the doomsday weapon, which is to burn an Ubuntu Linux CD and boot from that, bypassing any security software installed under Windows.

But if you're really that afraid of your kids, you can stop that for free, right? Just password your BIOS setup at boot and disable boot from cd/disk. Then, later, if you need to boot from CD/disk for some reason, you have the password to re-enable it.

Wouldn't that fix the issue?

Re:Doomsday weapon easily stopped? (4, Insightful)

Cristofori42 (1001206) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606631)

Until they reset the BIOS password with that magic jumper on the motherboard or pull out the battery....

Re:Doomsday weapon easily stopped? (1)

A Name Similar to Di (875837) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606715)

Until they reset the BIOS password with that magic jumper on the motherboard or pull out the battery....

Yes, but then they've left evidence of their activities. That's almost as good as preventing it from a certain angle.

Re:Doomsday weapon easily stopped? (5, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18607075)

Yes, but then they've left evidence of their activities. That's almost as good as preventing it from a certain angle.

Look. If your kid is smart enough to reset the motherboard and run Ubuntu live CD without your assistance, then maybe you should take the time to sit down with them and supervise their internet activities in person.

Chances are you'll learn a thing or two about computers you didn't know about...

Re:Doomsday weapon easily stopped? (2, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608485)

More to the point, if your kid is smart enough and crafty enough to download and burn a Ubuntu liveCD, open the case, trip the jumpers to wipe the BIOS password, and set the computer to try booting to the CD before the hard drive, then I have some news for you: your kid will be able to get pornography.

I mean, you try to preserve your kids in a kind of safe-bubble where bad things don't happen to them and dangerous, scary, or sexy things don't enter-- and that's fine. But at a certain point, your kids get curious and they get smart, and they'll find their own way out of that safe-bubble no matter what you do. Luckily, the age when they're able to find their way out of the bubble is usually pretty close to the age when they're becoming able to handle those things you're protecting them from.

At some point, you have to let go.

OMG, it's simple (1)

CasperIV (1013029) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608103)

Step 1, tell them not to do it.

Step 2, if they by pass the security, kick them in the ass really hard and ground them for a week from the computer.

Step 3 - If they continue to ignore your rules, conveniently "lose" them on a camping trip.

Seriously, my parents raised me (who was into computers since age 5) and never had problems with this. They would give me the beating of my life if I did some of the things these kids do. Of course they also just took the time to be parents and explained the world to me so I wasn't curios to do stupid things.

Re:OMG, it's simple (1)

init100 (915886) | more than 7 years ago | (#18609467)

They would give me the beating of my life if I did some of the things these kids do.

In more civilized countries, beating a child is a serious crime.

Re:Doomsday weapon easily stopped? (4, Funny)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606717)

You have to electrify the case, of course.

Re:Doomsday weapon easily stopped? (1)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 7 years ago | (#18607073)

Until they unplug the computer...

But if you use a battery backup for the electrified case, all they need to do is ground the case through the procedure.

Re:Doomsday weapon easily stopped? (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608659)

You know, if your kids are able to pull all that off they damned well deserves some boobie pictures to look at.

Back when I was a kid the trick was to balance on top of dads office chair standing on my toes in order to get to the porn stash.

Re:Doomsday weapon easily stopped? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18610195)

You have to electrify the case, of course.
Which one are you talking about? The court case or the computer case?

::hears lawyers frying in the background::

Re:Doomsday weapon easily stopped? (1)

Belgarath52 (121024) | more than 7 years ago | (#18607071)

If you're paranoid enough, there are cases available with intrusion-detection switches. I'm sure it's possible to defeat them but they're not always obvious.

Re:Doomsday weapon easily stopped? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18607219)

how much pocket money do they have? save for a few months and they can buy themselves an old laptop (so they can hide it) from a pawnshop (not a pornshop) or similar and then just swap the internet connection out. Kids are resourceful. Kids will always win.

Re:Doomsday weapon easily stopped? (2, Funny)

dhasenan (758719) | more than 7 years ago | (#18607359)

If I had a kid that smart, I'd be damn proud of her.

Not that any children in my care could survive long enough to open a computer case and remove a CMOS battery...

Why open the computer ? (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 7 years ago | (#18607747)

Using a good choosen OUT asm command could bring the bios in a factory reset. This is how I got it to delete a password that my parents had forgotten. Now granted I am not sure if it is the case with the msot resent BIOS or not. It could be that they are now protected against this.

Re:Doomsday weapon easily stopped? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18606665)

Just password your BIOS setup at boot and disable boot from cd/disk.

Thats why they invented BIOS reset jumpers. Or hell, just use a filesystem resizer and write a linux installation into the new partition using Ghost or the like, then set up lilo to not prompt and boot windows by default. Only the person who knows hitting left shift (IIRC) at exactly the right moment would have any idea.

Re:Doomsday weapon easily stopped? (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608837)

Only the person who knows hitting left shift (IIRC) at exactly the right moment would have any idea.

Or someone who pays attention to how much space they have on their hard drive. I can't remember - do linux partitions show up as unformatted drives in Windows now?

Re:Doomsday weapon easily stopped? (1)

init100 (915886) | more than 7 years ago | (#18609559)

I can't remember - do linux partitions show up as unformatted drives in Windows now?

They don't show up in Explorer, but they do show up in Microsoft Management Console where you (among others) manage your partitions.

Re:Doomsday weapon easily stopped? (1)

CowTipperGore (1081903) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606699)

But if you're really that afraid of your kids, you can stop that for free, right? Just password your BIOS setup at boot and disable boot from cd/disk. Then, later, if you need to boot from CD/disk for some reason, you have the password to re-enable it.

Wouldn't that fix the issue?

If you're that afraid of your kids, get them the hell off the computer. As for your solution, a kid that will burn a linux CD and boot from it just to find some porn probably would be able to crack the case and reset the BIOS password.

Re:Doomsday weapon easily stopped? (1)

BlueTrin (683373) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606741)

How do you reset a BIOS ?

  • You can find backdoors for alot of BIOSes
  • You can read it from CMOS memory once you have booted up
  • You can remove the battery which is used to store the password
  • You can buy hardware to reset it


Only 1 and 3 are quite possible for tech savyy kids (and 2 to a certain extent)

Re:Doomsday weapon easily stopped? (1)

Checkmait (1062974) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606767)

That only does half of it. If kids want to see some porn sites so badly that they burn a Ubuntu CD and try to boot it, they'll figure out how to reset the BIOS by removing the appropriate parts for 30 minutes (it's not that hard) and thereby also the password on the BIOS.

In the end, there is really no 100% effective weapon. Even if you manage to completely block porn on one machine, a kid can always go to a friend's house where the parents aren't so restrictive...

Doomsday killer 2.0 (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 7 years ago | (#18607179)

the solution is quite simple. Put the filter on the firewall, there are several that already live there. You can use any os you want, you're not going to get past it. It will still have all of the existing problems that desktop based filters have, but the doomsday is really fictitious.

Re:Doomsday killer 2.0 (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18607591)

Step 1: Unplug ethernet from firewall
Step 2: Plug ethernet directly in back of PC
Step 3: Profit
Step 4: Rewire to hide evidence

Admittedly, I've never owned a physical firewall, but I can't imagine it'd be any different than bypassing the wireless router.

Re:Doomsday killer 2.0 (1)

halivar (535827) | more than 7 years ago | (#18609541)

In my apartment, we use the parental controls on a Linksys wireless router. It's pretty incredible how few false positives it finds (few != zero iff Ebaumsworld == "false" positive), to such an extent that I don't even remember that there is a filter most of the time. It's pretty hard to bypass, because the only CAT5 cable in the apartment is three inches long, and runs from the wireless router to the cable modem.

The only problem is that you have to either (1) sign in every time you access the internet or (2) tie your MAC address directly to a profile on the router (which you HAVE to do for your XBox, or you won't be able to connect to XBox Live).

Re:Doomsday weapon easily stopped? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18607241)

Why bother hacking the BIOS? Install vmplayer [vmware.com] and the prebuilt browser appliance [vmware.com]

Re:Doomsday weapon easily stopped? (1)

_LORAX_ (4790) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608755)

If my child could circumvent filtering software ... I think they have earned a little bit of freedom on the computer. I would probably still log at the firewall, but I'm not going to play cat&mouse with a kid who obviously will work around anything I put on a computer.

I will sit them down and talk with them about the responsibility and safety issues, but then let them at it. If they can't behave responsible then they get nothing, I will turn off internet access all together for a period of time.

Re:Doomsday weapon easily stopped? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18609203)

But what if your kid starts selling crack to his classmates, rents an apartment and buys his own computer and Internet service? How are you going to solve THAT?

The problem (5, Insightful)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606533)

Citing expert witness reports, he wrote, "I find that filters generally block about 95% of sexually explicit material"

He doesn't get the driving force behind the people who want these sort of laws. They don't want to reduce the SEM their children see, they want to eliminate it completely and will never be happy otherwise. Which shows just how far out there they really are. You can't uninvent things.

Re:The problem (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606747)

Far out? No, just generally clueless when it comes to the 'net, like far too many people (including a fair lot of those that use it).

If there's no porn in the US, then sites abroad will have it. If you force them to disallow porn on the net, only shadier corners of the net will have it. What people don't get is that distance or borders don't matter in the virtual land, whether a server is in Texas or Abu Dhabi doesn't make a difference.

Still, they give themselves to the illusion that you could policy it. With "they" including a fair lot of politicians, btw. Though whether they just go hardline 'cause they know the sheep voting for them don't have a clue, or whether they don't have one themselves is up for debate.

You cannot "outlaw" anything efficiently on the 'net. You can hand your people tools to filter content, which is IMO also the only way it should be done. It is not the state's position to tell me what I may see and know and what I may not.

Re:The problem (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18607231)

If there's no porn in the US, then sites abroad will have it.

That's what's crusades are for! Remember, we had an "amen amen jesus jihad" phase too...

Re:The problem (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608283)

Why past tense?

But, you know, some countries on this planet have more pressing problems than to check what kind of material is being stored on their servers. Hell, some are dependent on the income. Why do you think it is such a hassle to convince Russia to shut down AAMP3?

And there will always be countries that don't give a rat's rear 'bout porn on their servers 'cause they still have people shooting each other in the streets.

Now wait, that's also some issue in the US... Strange.

Re:The problem (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606943)

He doesn't get the driving force behind the people who want these sort of laws. They don't want to reduce the SEM their children see, they want to eliminate it completely and will never be happy otherwise. Which shows just how far out there they really are. You can't uninvent things.

Wait ... that's "far out there"? The Internet has replaced the encyclopedia as the #1 place schoolchildren go to get basic facts about most of the topics they study in school. And if parents want their children to be able to use the Internet for that purpose without seeing pictures of highly explicit, extremely graphic sexual acts -- we're not talking Playboy here -- that's "far out there" in your view?

I agree -- for the most part -- that adults should be free to view the sexually explicit material that they love and crave. But it would be unacceptable in just about any community in the United States to put up a billboard depicting hardcore porn on a public street. I think it's reasonable to expect the same standard to apply to the Web. The fact that it is at present unrealistic to expect that standard to apply is another matter.

Re:The problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18607199)

Agreed. There's a difference between trying to protect your children from mundane things and trying to protect them from some of the stuff on the internet. Would you like your children watching someone living out a rape fantasy or reading a story that's more explicit than any movie could be? To do otherwise would, in my opinion, constitute neglect.

Re:The problem (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18607353)

Protip: Imagination can (and in puberty surely does) all of these things.

Re:The problem (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18607299)

Wait ... that's "far out there"? The Internet has replaced the encyclopedia as the #1 place schoolchildren go to get basic facts about most of the topics they study in school. And if parents want their children to be able to use the Internet for that purpose without seeing pictures of highly explicit, extremely graphic sexual acts -- we're not talking Playboy here -- that's "far out there" in your view?

The fact that they beleive they can succeed in the overall goal (no sexuaully explicit material in any form), regardless of any moral or logical justification, is laughable. They cannot uninvent it in it's myriad forms throughout history -- imaginative, pictorial, actual -- and to again seize on technology as if "corrupting the children" is some new threat shows that the most vocal proponents of religion are ignorant and backward people.

Re:The problem (1)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 7 years ago | (#18609239)

Whoa there, friend. First, only a very small minority AFAIK is seizing on technology as a force that is "corrupting the children". Nearly everybody who is trying to censor for their kids at all realizes that it is not the fault of technology. They want their kids to be able to use the technology, otherwise, like my uncle for a long time, they just wouldn't purchase internet access.

Second, the most vocal proponents of religion are not identical to the people calling for censorship in various forms. I'm not quite sure how you made that leap, but it is not justified. Sure, a lot of the desire for censorship is fueled by religious concerns, but not all of it is. Some of the proponents of censorship are also vocal proponents of religion. The two sets have a non-empty intersection. This is not equivalent to saying that the two sets are equal. Most of the people wanting censorship are really just normal everyday people like your neighbors. Not exactly what most people would call the most vocal proponents of religion.

Aside from that, your point is very good. In fact, it stands up just fine without the last half of your comment. Thinking that the goal is feasible is far out there. Arguably a nice goal, but an unattainable one.

Re:The problem (1)

pfleming (683342) | more than 7 years ago | (#18607981)


He doesn't get the driving force behind the people who want these sort of laws. They don't want to reduce the SEM their children see, they want to eliminate it completely and will never be happy otherwise. Which shows just how far out there they really are. You can't uninvent things.

No. They don't want anyone to see it at all. "Think of the children" is just an excuse. I don't really want my kids surfing porn so the firewall blocks it.

Not "far out there" at all (1)

ukemike (956477) | more than 7 years ago | (#18609789)

He doesn't get the driving force behind the people who want these sort of laws. They don't want to reduce the SEM their children see, they want to eliminate it completely and will never be happy otherwise. Which shows just how far out there they really are. You can't uninvent things.


I object to the characterization that wanting to protect children from sexually explicit material is "far out there." There is ample evidence that exposing young children to sexually explicit material is harmful to psychological development. Children should be allowed to remain sexually innocent. There is nothing "far out" about that at all. In fact I think that suggesting otherwise is pretty extreme. I would be shocked if any parent or psychologist anywhere would say that it's okay to show a 6 year old graphic sexual imagery. It is "far out" to suggest that free speech be eliminated to achieve the goal.

I do intend to protect my son from of porn for as long as I can. Protecting him from 95% of porn isn't any protection at all. At some point I'm going to have to get some help (maybe in the form of filtering software) but I certainly won't rely on it as my only solution. Like ALL parenting duties, they key is spending time with your children. Being involved in their lives is more effective than regulation or tech band-aids. If a parent expects the government or a technical solution to do their parenting for them then they are not doing their jobs, period.

Truth is, porn isn't on the top of my list of concerns. I worry about the massive exposure of kids to advertising (which is designed to erode self-esteem). I worry about the mass dosing of children with sugars. I worry that my very intelligent and energetic son will be "diagnosed" with ADHD by some lazy teacher who will want to put him on drugs because school isn't challenging. I worry that when he is older he will be exposed to and pressured to use drugs and alcohol. I worry that the idiot tailgating us is gonna put us in the hospital. I worry that the government will use "but think of the children!!!" to turn our country into a police state. After all of that and a lot more, THEN I worry about porn.

I'd still call it a good thing (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606559)

If I (or parents of kids, respectively) get to decide what I (or said kids) get to see, it's a good thing.

If the state dictates what you may see and what you may not, it's not.

Re:I'd still call it a good thing (3, Interesting)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606913)

Some people want the state to be responsible so they don't have to take the blame themselves for poor parenting.

I have *never* tried to stop my son from viewing adult material. I have also never found him viewing it. I go for the fairly simple method of telling him what it is, and asking him to avoid it. It's this thing called trust. I trust that he will be responsible *on the whole*. I do not expect perfect obedience.

Probably he has sneaked the odd view at some nakedness. I know I would have done at his age. Interestingly he also shows no sign of becoming a sociopath, or wanting to strangle hookers...

This whole anti porn thing is just some neo conservative delusion that porn == evil. It's bullshit. Porn == naked ladies/men. Yes there is more extreme/nasty stuff out there. I rely on the moral values I have instilled in my son to protect him from such things. I hope that he will feel no need to view such material.

It's all about realising that people cannot be restricted to a rule based existence. You have to help them develop a world view that encourages respect for their fellows. I happen to believe this does not exclude getting hot for pictures of naked ladies.

Re:I'd still call it a good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18607279)

My six year old daughter is increasingly using the net to explore her interests. At the moment these are what most six year old girls are interested in. I do not want her clicking on a link to ballet dancing fairies and finding one naked man sticking his erect penis up another naked man's arse while wearing a tutu. Why? Because this sort of stuff will stick in her mind and colour all sorts on conversations she has in the future, with her parents, with her friends, etc., etc.. Second, because I do not beleive she is sufficiently mature to understand the morality of naked men having sex. So I express my right as her guardian to limit some of the stuff she has access to and I strongly beleive I am totally justified in doing so. Exactly the same way that I would steer her away from accidently entering a sex shop and browsing the shelves or any other activity that might put her in harms way physical or otherwise. At six, I beleive porn would be harmful to her. I will not have hand waving liberals teling me that restricting her access to pornography is wrong, evil or whatever. Anyone who does so gets immediately placed in the 'you are not going anywhere near my daughter' category. No discussion, no compromise. As soon as she can argue the finer points of morality on /. then she can have access to whatever she wants.

Re:I'd still call it a good thing (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18607307)

and? You had a point with that comment?

Re:I'd still call it a good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18609285)

So I express my right as her guardian to limit some of the stuff she has access to and I strongly beleive I am totally justified in doing so.

Good work! Now, do this without involving the rest of us, and we'll all be happy. How many minutes would you leave your daughter unsupervised playing near a street? How many minutes do you leave her unsupervised playing on the information superhighway?

As soon as she can argue the finer points of morality on /.

So when she's 7?

Re:I'd still call it a good thing (2, Insightful)

loganrapp (975327) | more than 7 years ago | (#18607499)

My parents made it a point to not censor my media intake. I decided what I watched, etc. They didn't feel that me viewing violence on TV was ever immoral.

Talking about it years later (and clearly their decision made me who I am - working in media production), the point of them standing firm on not watching pornography wasn't a moral issue at all - it was just simply about having class. They figured if they taught me and my siblings class, it would permeate into everything we did. Since we're all either in college or college graduates with no criminal record, I think it's safe to say it worked.

But I've really noticed this to be missing - parents are so tied up in making sure their kids don't get bullied, avoid pornography, or not play violent video games, that they forget just to teach them to stand up straight, look someone in the eye when they speak, shake another man's hand firmly when introducing yourself, all the trappings of being a gentleman (or lady, in my sister's case).

And out of all my friends, the ones whose parents worried about that, about what their kids did instead of what their kids had happen to them, were the ones who were able to get out of our horrible town.

About half of my friends were sheltered from "anything bad," and most of them are still living at home in their mid-twenties.

Re:I'd still call it a good thing (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608247)

sounds to me like you have smart parents

Re:I'd still call it a good thing (1)

xero314 (722674) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608833)

Just so you know it is possible to help your children avoid situations that will cause them harm and teach them how to respect other people. It's possible to not give your child access to violence (which I find far more damaging socially and personally than nudity) and still teach them to me a respectable person. For example one of the most respectful people I know, who holds doors for women, children and elderly, to say the least of his gentlemanly acts, was not allowed to watch certain saturday morning cartoons because of the violent content. Believe it or not you can teach you child to sit up straight while they do things other than play video games (let alone violent ones).

Re:I'd still call it a good thing (1)

atomicthumbs (824207) | more than 7 years ago | (#18607629)

I have also never found him viewing it.

1. Alt+tab, hidden taskbar.
2. Tabbed browsing.
3. Bosskey/ window hiding or other virtual desktop program.
4. Turning off the monitor.
5. Closing the window.
6. Any combination of the above.

Re:I'd still call it a good thing (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608223)

Actually I only told him about the bosskey thing last week...

Re:I'd still call it a good thing (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608227)

You trust your kids? Hell, what kind of parent are you? You know where this leads to, your kids might trust your judgement, actually do what you tell them and come to you for aid in case they have a problem!

Have you even pondered the consequences? Doesn't anyone here think of the pedophiles?

Ok, sarcasm aside. I wonder why you're a minority. I guess most parents think that the only way to get kids to adhere to their values is to force them onto them. Which is pretty much the surefire way to get them to rebel against them. It's a bit like the challenge between wind and sun who could get a person's jacket off first.

Re:I'd still call it a good thing (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608439)

You know, I'm not that sure that I am in the minority. I rather suspect that I'm only in the minority from the standpoint that I admit these things. I think many people are too scared to stand out and admit that they feel the same way.

My poor son hasn't got much to rebel against, as I'm a scruffy, black clothed, computer game playing academic who doesn't believe in working at some shitty job for years just to earn a weekly wage.

To rebel against me he'd have to become an estate agent or something :-)

Re:I'd still call it a good thing (1)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 7 years ago | (#18610077)

You're exactly right. And he will become an estate agent, just to break your heart.

The majority of uptight parents these days were raised in the permissive 60s and 70s, and are very uptight to rebel against their parents. I predict that the kids raised in the uptight predominant manner currently fashionable will rebel and have free-love drugfests and go on to raise another batch of republicans.

Of course you also have to allow for the fact that things are going to hell, which tends to make things worse year to year.

Oh, and what's an estate agent? A realtor or a estate-tax-dude or what?

censorship no, self censorship ok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18606611)

I think censorship software like netnanny, etc. is the way to go for issues like these. It allows people to *self* censor the content that they receive. I have no problem with that. Sure, it requires some work on the part of the end user but that's a far better solution than having everyones content censored for the benefit of the few. It's up to parents to protect their kids. It is not reasonable for parents to expect society as a whole to be censored and stifled simply because they are too lazy to make the needed effort required to properly raise *their* children.

Good ol' analog porn (2, Insightful)

Azathfeld (725855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606639)

None of this will even come close to keeping children from looking at porn. How many of us here had never seen pictures of naked people before we got on the web? It's ridiculous farce to act as if blocking pornographic images on computers will have any real effect on the access to porn that children have. It won't even stop them from seeing porn from the internet, as long as they know someone who will download it for them for a dollar.

Re:Good ol' analog porn (3, Insightful)

Grashnak (1003791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18607467)

While its true that many of us laughed and giggled about boobies in national geographic or maybe, if we lucky or sneaky, in Playboy, the reality is that compared to that tame stuff, kids today can access pornography that would make a crack whore vomit. I'm not saying that I'm in favour of censorship, just that you can't compare the kind of material kids could get 30 years ago with today's abundance of videos showing teenage girls banging great danes in hot-tub full of cocaine.

Re:Good ol' analog porn (1)

Azathfeld (725855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18607731)

Dude. You have got to give me that URL.

Re:Good ol' analog porn (1)

penguin_dance (536599) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608269)

Be fair moderators and mod the parent up! You're right on and that's the other side of things. Naked people AREN'T the problem.

Today you can find things on YouTube that I don't want to see--much less the type of things on the truly XXX-rated sites. There are sex acts that I wish I was blissfully still unaware of! And yet all a lot of these sites have to do is have some button that says you agree that you're over 13 or 18 or ask your birthdate, as if anyone over 6 can't figure that out.

What bothers me is the objection the librarians have to making sure a kid coming into the library doesn't find some obscene site left open as a joke by the last person. Or that they can look up porn to their heart's content. You'd think they'd be the first ones to want children protected. They wouldn't (at least I hope they wouldn't) hand a kid a porn mag--yet they want totally open access to anything and everything the tykes trip on by mistyping a site or look for. I have no problem with loading some sort of safeguard software. And don't tell me it might keep some person from researching breast cancer--most of us have blocking software at work that does a pretty good job of weeding out the appropriate from the inappropriate. Besides, the kid is in a LIBRARY--they should be able to research these things called BOOKS. Since when did the Internet become the only authority of fact?

I also have no problem with the library having totally uncensor computers in a specific area away from children and limited to use by those 18 and over.

Re:Good ol' analog porn (1)

dwpro (520418) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608929)

I think the problem with this situation is that you expect the library to be some vanilla environment where you can leave your kids unattended. It is not, nor should it be, IMHO. Also, many of those things you call BOOKS have some pretty explicit material in them as well, so don't think that if they unplug the internet your child is "protected" in the libarary.

Re:Good ol' analog porn (1)

computational super (740265) | more than 7 years ago | (#18610087)

Good job underscoring the article's point. Although the article discussed obvious false positives (blocking of health-related sites, for example), you and I both agree that there are quite a few (probably most) sites that the filters are DESIGNED to filter out that aren't "harmful" (presuming that you and I both prescribe to the irrational viewpoint that representations of a normal human interaction is per se harmful). However, censoring software, by it's nature, must lump everything into a single category and obliterate all of it.

And shagging dead deer in WI also illegal... (5, Insightful)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606647)

Yes, I thought the two judgements that day dovetailed nicely.

The basic point is (to steal someone else's example): a parent should no more feel it is right to let their child roam unsupervised on the Net then let them roam unsupervised in any major city in the world. It is up to the PARENT and not the INFRASTRUCTURE to ensure their own child's safety, regardless of anyone's view of the morals/ethics/etc of porn and other 'unwanted' content.

The Net was never devised to be an extension of child-safe Disneyland and should not be subverted to be one. Why should I be blocked from reading papers on X-Ray Crystalography because of some hamfisted filtering built deep into a Tier-1's manditory COPA mechanism? Especially if neither I nor the benign site in question are in the US.

Please note, US lawmakers, that quite a lot of the world and the Net *is* outside the US, BTW.

Rgds

Damon

Subjective morality (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18606743)

It's kinda weird to keep seeing this cast as a technological issue with technological solutions.

It's actually a problem with a small but determined group of anti-social, anti-humanist
people who shout the loudest.

As long as there are mentally damaged people in the world who live in shame, guilt and fear
of their own bodies, and who have the arrogance to presume to prescribe
morality and acceptable behaviour to others then we will have the problem.

The problem is the pathological view of morality, not with any behaviour or technology.

This applies to drugs, pornography, religion, in fact anything that an individual
can do that has no harmful effect on others.

It will take generations, but we have to re-educate the fragile minds that have
a problem with other peoples behaviour instead of labling that behaviour itself
as the problem.

It would be great if psychologists could isolate that tendancy for certain
people to be dissatisfied with their lives no matter how much wealth and
success they attain unless they are able to forcefully interfere in the lives of
others.

I think that in time we will recognise this tendancy as bad mental health. Those
who today make a success in politics and media journalism through this behaviour
will eventually be recognised for what they, shunned and excluded from
public life and influence.

You wish! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18606907)

I think that in time we will recognise this tendancy as bad mental health. Those
who today make a success in politics and media journalism through this behaviour
will eventually be recognised for what they, shunned and excluded from
public life and influence.


You wish!

I like what you're saying but I don't think it is at all realistic. Take a look at history, man. The violent, the brutal, the strong, the aggressive, the psychopathic, the crazy all have a tendency to get ahead and rise to power. Sure the opposite happens sometimes, but that's just a rare exception to the general rule. I think this says a lot about people as a whole. I personally believe that people as a whole are aggressive, violent, etc. Sure we may have these tendencies *somewhat* under control in modern civilization, but those tendencies are still there just beneath the surface waiting for the chance to explode forth in another fight, crime, riot, war or revolution. There will never be a peaceful utopia on earth. People are violent animals - literally. Our society will always reflect that fact.

Why the recalcitrance? (3, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606877)

I don't understand why people act like censorware's mere existence is a bad thing. It is a good way for people to police themselves, which is how most enforcement of morality should be. When I have kids, I plan to use it. I also plan to teach them, especially my sons, about the dangers that come with it so that they know that it's worse than they suspect. To be honest, as a Christian, I'd far rather walk in on my kids getting wasted or stoned, and I say that as someone who comes from a line of alcoholics.

What is needed is a comprehensive, open source filtering system that requires you to contribute without any anonymity. Imagine something like the Wikipedia for filtering, but you have to mail a copy of your identifying information, and contribute under your real name to control trolling. That, and a multi-tiered categorization scheme to capture such nuance as "bland, risque, sexy, NSFW--ever!! and Possibly Illegal porn." Oversimplification perhaps, but just a thought. I think a great filtering system could be built if it were done in public, with transparency and room for people to configure it to their moral views.

Re:Why the recalcitrance? (3, Insightful)

CowTipperGore (1081903) | more than 7 years ago | (#18607329)

I don't understand why people act like censorware's mere existence is a bad thing. It is a good way for people to police themselves, which is how most enforcement of morality should be. When I have kids, I plan to use it.
I have no problem with its existence - but I hate to see parents think it is a suitable replacement for parenting. As indicated in the article and its links, the software both fails to block porn and it blocks non-porn. Plus, the world doesn't have filters installed.

I also plan to teach them, especially my sons, about the dangers that come with it so that they know that it's worse than they suspect. To be honest, as a Christian, I'd far rather walk in on my kids getting wasted or stoned, and I say that as someone who comes from a line of alcoholics.
Now you've completely lost me. I certainly control what my kids are allowed to see on the TV and computer, but I would rather find them with a dirty magazine than wasted on drugs. Your kids will most likely see a naked person at some point in their life, both in real life and in replications (movies, pictures, statues, etc) so how can you imagine that seeing a picture of a topless woman is worse than losing brain cells to drugs?

What is needed is a comprehensive, open source filtering system that requires you to contribute without any anonymity. Imagine something like the Wikipedia for filtering, but you have to mail a copy of your identifying information, and contribute under your real name to control trolling. That, and a multi-tiered categorization scheme to capture such nuance as "bland, risque, sexy, NSFW--ever!! and Possibly Illegal porn." Oversimplification perhaps, but just a thought. I think a great filtering system could be built if it were done in public, with transparency and room for people to configure it to their moral views.
The problem is that we all have slightly different flavors of morality. Some people would classify a Lindsay Lohan nipple slip as porn that should be illegal while others would have no problem seeing it on the cover of a magazine. My wife used to get a parenting magazine that made a big stink a few years ago by putting a breastfeeding baby on the cover - no nipple mind you, just the baby's face and the side of a breast. Outraged readers railed about breasts being sexual objects, about hiding the magazine so their husband didn't see it, and so forth. Call when you develop a porn classification system that everyone accepts.

Re:Why the recalcitrance? (1)

Bat Country (829565) | more than 7 years ago | (#18607819)

Why should it be necessary for you to filter the world based on your moral views? Rose tinted glasses doesn't make the real world any nicer, and they don't prepare you for the shock of being exposed in real life to the full spectrum the world has to offer.

I've met several people through church who had the most outlandish and twisted beliefs about other human beings caused by the fact that they'd been sheltered from getting an objective view of reality and had been told all sorts of nonsense about people. I'm talking about people that actually believe the hateful folderol that individuals like Jack Chick (Google it, I won't link to that guy) spew.

Being exposed to pornography won't make you hate Jesus, and it won't turn you into a sex addict. Seeing "bad" words on a page won't make you foul mouthed; one of my best friends won't say anything stronger than "crap" (ever) and his parents swear like sailors.

All a moral person requires to be moral is to have a sense of right and wrong - however you choose to define that - imprinted at an early age through a mix of doctrine (don't do that, only bad people do that) and example (being a decent human being yourself, and making your kids admire or appreciate you).

No amount of television shows, songs, pornographic images, dirty jokes or videogames are going to corrupt people.

Peer pressure might - and education and life experience might cause them to stray from what you consider to be "good" - but what influences an adult or child more than anything is their environment during their formative years and the activities they choose during their rebellious years.

Sheltering someone only warps their understanding of reality, it doesn't automagically make them a better person.

Re:Why the recalcitrance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18608291)

I totally agree. In fact, I even think that calling it censorware is wrong. No one is getting censored -- people can publish virtually anything they want on the Internet with no legal consequences. However, without this software, people who have an Internet connection in their homes have little choice but to be potentially exposed to a vast amount of despicable material with little if any content restraints placed on that material.

Re:Why the recalcitrance? (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608907)

I think it's a pretty good idea to have some sort of open, transparent, public categorization of web sites based on the possible offensiveness/annoyingness of their content. However, the main thing is that it must be completely voluntary.

I don't think it's generally a good idea to censor things on the internet, but I'd like to see a comprehensive unbiased service that would allow me to filter what I do and do not want to see, and what I do and do not want my children to see.

I don't think it should be limited to porn, either. We should be able to filter out whatever we want, whether it's religious sites or anti-religion sites, advertisements or communist rhetoric, Microsoft propaganda or Linux propaganda. I mean, I really don't know how a filtering system could be so fine-grained as that, but ideally, I'd like to be able to tell my computer/browser, "I have no problem with seeing [subject A], but I absolutely don't want to see [subject B]," and then have things filtered according to those rules.

However, it's a really bad idea to have a single body in charge of the categorization, to have anyone given the ability to shut a site down, or to have any mandatory filtering. The internet should be giving people power, freedom, and choice. As someone with a server, I should be able to post what I want to and not post what i don't want to. As someone with a browser, I should be able to view what I want to and not view what I don't want to. Basically. So long as you aren't talking about something like gross copyright infringement or child porn, which I agree should be shut down.

Re:Why the recalcitrance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18609795)

To be honest, as a Christian, I'd far rather walk in on my kids getting wasted or stoned, and I say that as someone who comes from a line of alcoholics.

And as a fellow Christian I understand your position; there are no biblical injunctions against smoking crack, while there are injunctions against prostitution (albeit weak ones, almost as weak as the injunctions against homosexuality). However, there was no such thing as crack until the 1980s and no such thing as cocaine at all until the late 1800s. I understand the Amish positions completely, even though I don't choose their lifestyle for myself.

Some of us aren't easily addicted. The only thing I ever became addicted to was nicotine, despite having tried damned near every drug ever made at one time or another, and I was still able to break the cigarette habit 7 years ago after 30 years of use (I'll probably still die of cancer though). But some folks are so easily addicted they can become addicted to things not normally associated with addiction. If you come from a family of alcoholics, then you are hard-wired to be easily addicted, as will your children probably be.

If you consider pornography a sin (and please give me a few chapters and verses, as I've read the Bible and never seen this, nor have I seen the Baptist injunctions against dancing or drinking), remember we ALL sin; we are ALL sinners. Even the Pope is a sinner; he's a human being. Only one man ever lived who was without sin.

As a Christian, your sins are forgiven you. Most people are aghast when I say this, but Timothy McVeigh is in heaven right now, horrible as his murderous sins were. He had time to repent before he was murdered in turn by the state. Your sins will be forgiven you, too.

But I'm going to tell you from the experience of a man who has known and partied with addicts (and still do; several of my girlfriends are crackwhores, two of them are now in drug rehab) that some drugs, even alcohol, can utterly destroy some people.

One man I've known for a few years is an alcoholic, like members of your family. I saw him go from employment to homelessness; he's now living (if you can call it that) in a crack house, what worldly possessions he has are stored in my basement. The poor man is now not only an alcoholic, but addicted to crack as well.

Your job as parent isn't just to guard your child's soul (an impossible task without God's help) but to raise them to not destroy their earthly lives as well.

That sounds like a challenge (5, Funny)

CowTipperGore (1081903) | more than 7 years ago | (#18606937)

When you're talking about a supply of content that is so large that nobody could finish looking at it all if they spent the rest of their life trying, it doesn't really matter if 25% or 50% or 75% is located within your legal jurisdiction.
Boy oh boy do I look forward to proving this guy wrong!

What's the best thing... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18607049)

...about having a 7 year old girl in the shower???

If you slick her hair back, she looks like a 7 year old boy!!!

(Joke)

Re:What's the best thing... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18607249)

What do you do when you've finished fucking a 7 year old girl?
Flip her over an pretend she's a seven year old boy.

What's the best thing about forty seven year olds?
there's forty seven of them

An Axe to Grind (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18607089)

Bennett has been a long time advocate of the elimination of filtering. His website contains massively outed information on most of the filtering vendors. He has had an axe to grind against filtering for a very long time.

His assertion that seeing nekkid people isn't bad for a kids is flat out false. There was a time when dinsey-dot-com was a graphic pornography site. Can you image a young child of 8 misspelling disney getting graphic pictures of sexual acts, this is OK?

When it comes to children, the parents, such as myself have the right to worry about what our kids see online. I can monitor their usage at home, but at school in a classroom with 30 other students, it is ridiculous to assume that the teacher can monitor the usage. Much less a network admin with thousands or even tens of thousands of students. I want the Internet access at my kids school filtered, and if a few sites are over-blocked (which I believe is much more rare than he asserts) so be it. Any filter worth it's price has the ability to remove sites from the blocked list.

Students are at school to learn. Unfortunately the allure of sites like myspace and youtube make up the majority of web traffic at a school, unless that activity is blocked. I certainly do not want my tax dollars paying for an Internet connection that is not primarily used for learning. An open Internet policy at a school is sure to bring about a mass of students that are not paying attention, but are instead IMing, on myspace, youtube, or just generally wasting time. Sure there will be some students that will obstain from the distraction, but the majority will not.

Another thing that Bennett needs to be called to the carpet for is something I recently found on his website. He offers a tool to bypass Internet filtering on his website. As far as I am concerned this is at the very least a moral violation, if not a legal violation of providing adult materials to children by proxy.

Bennett makes some good arguments, however a simple fact remains. Children do not have a right to see Pornography. The longer we can keep children from finding out exactly how depraved we all really are, the better their childhood will be.

Mod up (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 7 years ago | (#18607355)

Mod parent up. The brand of extreme moral relativism that says that it's just the prudes and the "fragile minds" who would want to block access to porn on the Internet is a kind of twisted fundamentalism that doesn't represent the values of most of society. There probably is nothing wrong with kids seeing nekkid bodies. On the other hand, the Internet is rife with hardcore porn that goes waayyyyyyy beyond nudity -- including images of violence, degradation, and deviant behaviors. Even if I agree that 8 years is old enough for a child to understand why a man would want to have sex with a woman, it is absolutely NOT old enough to comprehend why that man would want to strangle the woman while he does it. I'll agree that consenting adults should be free to enjoy whatever they want, so long as it doesn't harm themselves or others. But an 8 year old is simply not capable of being "sex positive." There's nothing wrong with parents wanting to shield their children from hardcore pornographic material.

Re:Mod up (2, Interesting)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608041)

with all due respect, your wrong. If people have a right to look at porn then stopping them is taking away their rights for no reason intrinsic to them. If your 8 year old see that porn, he would obviously have to have looked for it - I've never once seen porn on the net that I wasn't looking for, not even when I was a wee nipper clicking on everything that I got randomly sent to me without considering what it might be (YMMV).

Porn is not everywhere. censorship is not needed.

There is nothing more manifestly perverse than stealing rights for no reason other than "think of the children" - who almost certainly wouldn't be affected anyway.

Also, whats wrong with subjectivity of values anyway?

Re:Mod up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18608445)

To clarify, I DO NOT support blanket censorship. But censorship in our schools for the young children is something that the writer of this article supports.

I believe that my 8 year old daughter would burst into tears if she were to see an image of penetration. Wanting to protect her from that does not make me a moral prude, it makes me a good damn parent.

Censoring the Internet access of students in public schools is effective, and worthwhile. I have no problems with a 16 or 17 year old boy viewing pornography at home on their computer. It is their parents responsibility at that point. However at school, there is no need and no place for anyone to have open access to non-educational related materials. Not on my tax dollar.

Re:Mod up (1)

computational super (740265) | more than 7 years ago | (#18609865)

I believe that my 8 year old daughter would burst into tears

That's a pretty emotionally fragile kid you got there, bud - you should have that looked into. I think I know my 3-year-old pretty well, and if he saw something like that, he'd be a bit shocked and say, "Daddy, what are those people DOING?" I would explain it to him, and he might make a face, say something like "gross", and continue on about his day. Of course, he's not on the internet yet, but when he is, I'll install all the filtering software and act like all the other hysterically paranoid parents (and I'll worry about nothing EXCEPT nekkid people because everything else is OK). Why? Because if I don't, I suspect that the social work people will take him away from me. Funny how that works, isn't it? Parents get to choose the morality they observe in their household... as long as it's this one specific, narrowly defined, irrational, mass-hysteria-fueled morality.

Re:Mod up (1)

PhilipMckrack (311145) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608955)

I've never once seen porn on the net that I wasn't looking for, not even when I was a wee nipper clicking on everything that I got randomly sent to me without considering what it might be


So that time you were tricked into clicking on the goatse link, that's really what you were looking for??

Re:Mod up (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18609435)

so long as it doesn't harm themselves

Wait, what?

Re:An Axe to Grind (4, Insightful)

EsbenMoseHansen (731150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18607493)

[..]Can you image a young child of 8 misspelling disney getting graphic pictures of sexual acts,[...]?

Indeed I can. He'd go "eewwwkkk! yuck! See how big that one is? And with a donkey? Awsome!

I hate to tell you this, but that won't be the first porn that 8-year old have seen. And anyway, there is little evidence that porn is really more damaging for kids than e.g. the Bratz dolls. (Forgive me if that fad has already passed away, feel free to replace with the new equivalent :) )

Re:An Axe to Grind (1)

computational super (740265) | more than 7 years ago | (#18609639)

When it comes to children, the parents, such as myself have the right to worry about what our kids see online.

Worry away - nobody's ever suggested that you shouldn't have the right to worry (and I can't imagine how we'd take it away from you). However, you should be very, very worried about what your kids see online. There appears to be loads of help protecting them from the evils of sex, but your children might still be exposed to: religious extremism (whichever religion you're not), glorification of drug use, glorification of violence, racial intolerance, pro-homosexual agendas (or anti), pro (or anti) abortion viewpoints... whew! It's almost as if they need to learn to think for themselves as they grow into adults! But at least they'll be able to grow up with the healthy notion that naked women are the tool of the devil and that they should be ashamed of their lack of control over their immoral thoughts.

To protect this adult discussion from children (2, Funny)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 7 years ago | (#18607513)

shit fuck cunt dick asshole vagina motherfucker censorware porn pornography sex gay homosexual marijuana bong meth methamphetamine chat "so... how old r u?" "I have a puppy" cam "over 18" atheism poopy "birth control" asshole cervical cancer personals "Ted Haggard" password crack "parental controls" N2H2 Norton "Secure Computing"

Re:To protect this adult discussion from children (1)

richdun (672214) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608655)

"Secure Computing"

ROFL

Why censor young human beings? (2, Insightful)

delirium of disorder (701392) | more than 7 years ago | (#18607537)

Youth are not animals. You aren't some naive infant from 0-17 and then magically become a mature capable adult on your 18th birthday. Here in the state of IL, the age of consent is 17. So when you're 17, you can have sex with any 17 year old (and I believe 16 year olds too), as well as any adult. Since Laurence v. Texas, you can have any sort of consensual sex you want: orgies, anal/oral/vaginal, S&M, gay/straight/bi, roleplaying, and whatever else your perverted mind can dream up. A 17 year old could fuck your mom or grandma (if she's into it). A 17 year old can drive a car. A 17 year old can work full time. A 17 year old can buy a house, computer, and Internet connection (if he/she can somehow manage to get that kind of cash). Yet we need the state to make sure we use censorware to keep us from viewing breasts? Younger teenagers may have less legal rights than those who are nearly legal adults, but why should anyone be denied their free speech rights? Why should those who are sexually mature (and probably having sex), be denied the right to see representations of sexual activity.

Re:Why censor young human beings? (1)

CowTipperGore (1081903) | more than 7 years ago | (#18609485)

Don't forget that our 17 year olds can be sent to Iraq to kill but can't buy a beer when they get home.

Here we go again... or did we actually stop (3, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18607607)

trying to regulate morality. We know that .xxx won't work and kids being resourceful will find a way to get around most blocking software. Its time for parents to be responsible for their children, for them to teach children that they are responsible for their own actions, that society has a set of morals that, for sometimes mind-boggling reasons, we abide by at least in public.

The porn industry is willing to let you block their sites via a tag or two. Blocking software will protect small children when you turn your back to clean the kitchen. Blocking systems would have protected the teacher.

There are many ways to attack this problem, none of them are a silver bullet. The one thing that cannot and should not be regulated is the parents responsibility to protect their own children. It's a big wide nasty world out there. Children will find out about it sooner or later, they can't be protected from it forever.

There is needs for solutions that protect public library systems, solutions that protect work systems, solutions that protect home systems. Even if all these are 100% effective little johnny might still get porn over at his friend's house. Nothing is foolproof and we should not be trying to legislate something to be foolproof or to assign blame when it isn't.

PARENTS need to be paranoid, not just blocking software packages. They should use all that they deem necessary to protect their kids, not what the court deems necessary. The best way to protect them from porn is to educate them, use blocking software, talk to them, use filters, educate them, and did I mention that parents need to talk to and educate their own children rather than rely on t he court to do it for them?

Re:Here we go again... or did we actually stop (2, Insightful)

Canie (652059) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608909)

Kids are bright but that's not news. They've been circumventing all kinds of controls put in place by parents, teachers, and the like for as long as there have been children. I agree entirely with zappepcs.

It's up to PARENTS to actively take a role in raising their children. It's not up to government, teachers, or anyone else--no matter how many parents want to abdicate their responsibility for the children they brought into this world.

I am shocked and appalled at how many children are raised without any sense of respect--self or otherwise.

I've raised my sons--my youngest was on IRC when he was 7 and I viewed it as a wonderful learning experience. He talked to university students all over the world. Suddenly the world wasn't such a huge place...it was right there, in our home! Now a college student, he's traveling to see those places.

Was IRC fraught with danger for him? Absolutely! At age 7 I supervised his use. I also instructed him in ways of the Internet and told him that there were people out there who might say things to him that were "wrong" and that, just as we teach our children to tell us if ever someone touches them in a way that feels "wrong", he should tell me immediately if he ever encountered someone like that. And he did.

I also taught my children that there were pictures that were "wrong" and that they needed to avoid them. "Wrong" didn't mean pornography necessarily. It meant anything that was inappropriate to that child at that age.

Did I find a trail of links to Playboy? You bet! Was I surprised? Of course not. My brothers were looking at illicit Playboys decades before anyone heard of the WWW. My husband found a bag of magazines dumped in front of our house with images on the covers that made Playboy look like a children's book--again, long before the Internet was a household word.

How many of our freedoms do we want to give up? In our homes we decide what our children can and can't see online and on TV--if we are responsible parents. At school, kids should be on-task, whether at their own desk or behind a computer. Why is it that we find it so much harder to monitor student activity these days? Yes, some kids are always going to push it at school--and that's when the parents need to be brought in to become involved. If we allow teachers to focus on educating our students and stop insisting that they be back up (or stand-ins) for social services maybe our teachers would once again have time to monitor their students' activities.

Finally, things like NetNanny are probably appropriate for the youngest students. How many elementary students are doing research on breast cancer? And what happened to using old-fashioned books and periodicals? The youngest students need some protection from accidentally finding totally inappropriate sites but even technology isn't going to provide 100% protection. If it's not pornography, it's graphic images of violence or other inappropriate material that is commonly available via "respectable" news outlets.

Yes, zappepcs, we need to educate children. Over and over again. The Internet is just another part of life that children must learn about.

Read about this yesterday (2, Informative)

PsychosisC (620748) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608257)

Christian Science Monitor had a commentary about this ruling [csmonitor.com] . To sum it up for the /. crowd -- age-verification laws exist for pretty much any other pornography sold in the United States, the internet should not be an exception. Fundamentally she's correct, although, IMO, COPA itself would realistically have a trivial effect on kids seeing porn, since it just pushes providers off-shore.

Additionally, here's SCOTA's case summary and opinions [cornell.edu] on this law. The ruling on this was 5-4, same votes per judge as in United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group [cornell.edu] (which struck down a much broader version of the same law). Basically... you guys are one justice away from a very different internet. Consider yourself lucky it was Rehnquist that died and not Kennedy.

Personally, I have a problem with the fact that our obscenity laws revolve around Ginzburg vs United States [wikipedia.org] -- a ruling from 40 years ago during the middle of the sexual revolution.

meh (1)

JasonWM (991689) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608295)

I'm the head tech for a school district and anyone who has to help in the enforcement of COPA would be glad to see it go. It is so broad and lacks definition. Every time a student wants to write a paper on say gay rights, a whole can of worms is opened up for us to try and sort through and solve. Instead of providing technology for kids to use in their education, we play lawyer trying to see if we are gonna get screwed in some way shape or form by COPA.

I'm not sure the judge is right (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608513)

on the restrictiveness issue. He was right on the vagueness issue.

Restrictiveness should not necessarily be equated with onerousness. Instead it should be equated with which materials fall under the law's restrictions. The point is that if there is a valid government interest in regulating certain content, the government cannot use this as a pretext to sweep away other content it doesn't like.

For example, lets say the government doesn't want troop movements to be publicized in advance: a legitimate interest. It cannot pass a law that makes it illegal to report on anything the DoD does, because that would make it impossible to report on waste and fraud in defense procurements.

The judge thinks that software filters would be less restrictive. While they are less onerous, I think this idea is clearly wrong. Hypothetically, if we imagine that (A) the government has a compelling interest here and (B) that that interest is clearly and precisely identified in the law then (C) COPA would have been less restrictive than filtering, because filtering blocks materials based not on their content, but by their mere resemblance to content that should be restricted. In other words, no matter what your definition is, filtering will throw out more things improperly than human review would.

Over-restrictiveness is purely a matter of how much stuff you block that you shouldn't. Letting some stuff through that you shouldn't (false negatives) may make it look like you are being less restrictive, when in fact you are doubly failing. People who deny there is a public interest at all here may well prefer loosely tuned filters to human review of content, because they are less onerous to use, provided they let as much or more through than human review would. This is because they see no distinction between what the filters are supposed to block and what the filters are supposed to let through. But it doesn't make the decision to use filters right.

The worst thing about filters is their capacity to take away liberty without due process. If law enforcement says your content falls under restricted content, you can challenge this. If your content is silently filtered out by software, you may not be aware of the fact. If you are aware, you may have no means to restore your rights.

Re:I'm not sure the judge is right (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608857)

The worst thing about filters is their capacity to take away liberty without due process. If law enforcement says your content falls under restricted content, you can challenge this. If your content is silently filtered out by software, you may not be aware of the fact. If you are aware, you may have no means to restore your rights.

DoubleClick tried to convince me of this, too. Then I AdBlocked them.
 
/shrug. People can filter anything they want to. It's not "taking away libery without due process" unless the government forces us to use the filters. You can't make anyone configure their browser to be able to view your website, no matter how non-offensive your content may be. If people choose to let a 3rd-party control what is blocked, it's still their right to do so.

Decentralized filtering (2, Interesting)

yuna49 (905461) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608577)

Back when the issue of Internet filtering became a matter of widespread public discussion, some fifteen years ago now, there were suggestions that filtering software be developed that would enable people to subscribe to filtering lists. The expectation was that different groups would have different agendas and thus publish different lists. People wishing to adopt filtering could then subscribe to lists based on their own needs and beliefs; some might choose the Christian Coalition's list, some the list published by Planned Parenthood. Support for this system could be built into browsers through a mechanism like AdBlock, or perhaps better, supported by a DNS-like system in much the same way spam blacklists function today. I thought these ideas had a lot of merit in that they worked the way the Internet has always worked, by decentralizing the decision-making process and putting it in the hands of the end-users. Sadly I've not seen many efforts in this direction over the years since these ideas were first proposed.

There are two clearly distinct issues here (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18608675)

The first one is the idea that there are people that would like to remove all pornography in all forms from the Internet. Unproven except in a few cases of extreme wackiness. I doubt anyone seriously considers this to be an option.

The second point is as uncontrolled as the Internet can be, there is really no limit on what purveyors of filth can do. So you end up with the bukkake fest or the faked dog gangrape scene being shown to a preteen girl. This can seriously affect people's views of sex and their relationship to it, often for a very long time.

There are some that would simply say that if said preteen girl ran across this during a search for material at school that it is her own fault if it turned her off sex for life. I don't find this a particularly valid answer. "Careful surfing" isn't an answer - porn is driven by ad clicks and people will do almost anything to get clicks. Including trying to drag in people that have no interest in eventually paying, just to get the clicks.

Also, all porn isn't some nice friendly Westernized Playboy magazine. There are a number of cultures where seriously degrading and objectifying women is just plain fun. Add in some careful editing and you can have three dogs (unclean animals to start with) having their way with a girl in a school uniform. You might not find it funny and interesting but some folks think this would be great. Would your daughter?

OK, so assuming there is some stuff out there that has no place in a school environment how does one deal with it? Blocking software is mostly stupid because there is no binary determination of "degrading porn" yes or no. The blocking companies seem to also push other agendas as well, filtering out "hate speech" (Republicans) and "profanity" (Democrats). With domain registration in the hands of people that have no responsibility for anything except making money, it isn't even possible to contact the owner of a web site any longer. How does one get a few binary yes/no categories into a web site and enforced today? I don't think there is a good way to do that at all.

This means we will continue to see a lot of bad ad-hoc implementations that try to solve a problem that needs to be moved upstream.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...