This year there have been tons of stories about attempts by politicians to put in place ridiculously bad laws, all in the name of protecting children. Many of these laws tend to pass, because no politician wants to vote against "protecting the children." However, these laws rarely do much to protect children -- they are simply designed for political purposes, to help politicians claim they're protecting the children in order to get votes. The latest case is no different. We've had a bunch of folks submit the story of John McCain and Chuck Schumer's silly bill to require sex offenders to register their email addresses, which seems to assume that people only have one email address. However, much more troublesome is another, less talked about, aspect of the bill, which would require any site that has user's post illegal images or videos to file a report with a government agency or face up to $300,000 in fines. Based on some readings of the bill, this would mean that if anyone happened to post a comment on your blog that included child pornography, not only would you have to delete it, but you would need to file a report about the incident. On the face of it, the reasoning makes sense. The government certainly would like to know the details of anyone posting child pornography in places. However, the reality suggests that this doesn't make the situation any better. It's just going to be a huge hassle for a lot of people who happen to have sites that allow comments. We get a ton of comment spam that some might consider crosses the line of what's appropriate. Are we going to need to file hundreds of these reports every day to remain in compliance with this law? Does that really help the government, or will it just overwhelm them with useless junk?
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