It appears that Democratic Senators have decided that their "moral issue" this week is online porn. How else can you describe three separate stories involving Democratic Senators and porn -- and each one seems equally pointless. There was, of course, the Hilary Clinton against consensual sex in a video game that is just fine when it only promoted murder, carjacking, prostitution and general mayhem. Then there are the Senators pushing for an online porn tax against websites that offer porn. And, now, in the wake of the Grokster decision, some Senators held a hearing to discuss what the various file sharing networks were doing, and Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer seemed quite upset that these file sharing apps didn't filter out porn. Of course, this isn't a Democratic/Republican issue. Republicans, such as Senator Orrin Hatch, freaked out about the same thing a few years ago. And, this particular panel also featured Republican Senator Ted Stevens, who was just as angry at file sharing companies. At this point, it seems like just about any party, regardless of political affiliation has no qualms about making grandstanding announcements about technology they don't understand to make it look like they're solving some sort of problem. It just so happens that, right now, everyone feels they need to stand strong on "moral" issues. Unfortunately, their morals need a lesson in how technology works. Senator Boxer and Senator Stevens came down hard on porn over file sharing networks, with Boxer saying that "it's not going to sit well" if they say it can't be filtered, and, Stevens saying: "People tell me we can't do anything about it. I don't believe that." What this has to do, specifically, with file sharing is anyone's guess. A study by the Government Accounting Office (which you would think the Senators would know about) concluded a while ago that porn on file sharing networks is no worse than porn over the regular internet, but you don't see these Senators screaming that ISPs need to filter out all porn on a regular internet connection. Instead, they pick on file sharing apps, because they're easy targets and allow the Senators to look tough on online porn while not actually doing anything about online porn. The Senators made the ridiculous suggestion that because entertainment industry services don't have porn, obviously file sharing apps can filter it -- suggesting they don't realize the two systems (file sharing and download stores) serve two very different purposes and work in two very different ways. If the issue is dealing with children accessing online pornography -- that's fine. However, unfairly targeting one particular app is pointless.
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