Congress Rushes Through Law To Protect The Children... And Make Open WiFi A Huge Liability

from the congress-folks-at-work dept

Congress was apparently busy on Wednesday moving forward with incredibly bad laws that are designed to look good to certain constituents, but are highly questionable in real terms. We already discussed the new PRO IP bill, but the House also rushed through approval of the SAFE Act, which is one of those ridiculous bills that everyone feels compelled to vote for to "protect the children." Only two Representatives voted against the bill (and, yes, for his fans, one of them was Ron Paul). As Declan McCullough's report makes clear, the backers of this bill rushed it through Congress for no clear reason. They used a procedural trick normally reserved for non-controversial laws -- and made significant changes from an earlier version, never making the new version available for public review prior to the vote.

So what's so awful about the law? Well, like most "protect the children" legislation, it goes way overboard in terms of what people are expected to do, and like most legislation having to do with technology, seems utterly clueless about how technology works. The bill would require anyone providing an "electronic communication service" or a "remote computing service" to record and report information any time they "learn" that their network was used for certain broadly defined illegal activities concerning obscene images. That's double trouble, as both the illegal activities and the classification of who counts as a service provider are so broadly defined. McCullough notes that anyone providing an open WiFi network, a social network, a domain registry or even a webmail service probably qualify under the law. Glenn Fleishman describes what the law could mean in practice, points out that anyone who runs an open WiFi network for the public is now basically required to snitch on anyone they think may be doing anything deemed "illegal" in this act, including viewing or transmitting certain obscene drawings, cartoons, sculptures, or paintings. As Fleishman notes, it "sounds like viewing an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog could qualify." Even worse, part of the snitching is that beyond sending a report and the images to the gov't, you're supposed to retain the "illegal" image yourself -- which would seem to open you up to charges of possession as well if you somehow screw up (if you follow everything exactly to the letter of the law, you are granted immunity).

If you don't snitch on anyone suspected of viewing or transmitting these images, then you, as the network "operator" are suddenly liable for huge fines. Honestly, the liability is so big that anyone offering WiFi is probably better off no longer doing so. This is one of those laws that politicians love to pass, because they think it makes them look like they're protecting children -- when all they're really doing is creating a huge and unnecessary headache for all kinds of service providers, from open WiFi operators to social networking sites to webmail offerings. But, of course, it moves forward -- with no public scrutiny and no discussion -- because almost no politician wants to allow a politician to accuse him or her of voting "against" protecting the children.


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  •  
    identicon
    LBD, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 6:59am

    Supreme Court

    Supreme Court will (probably) strike it down. Our current court is actualy very compitent

     

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    Mark D, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 7:12am

    Washingtion

    Isn't Washington great?

     

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    Witty Nickname, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 7:27am

    Ron Paul

    Ron Paul fans don't get to excited. He votes against everything. Literally. Not to say that is nessisarily a bad thing, but he didn't know it was just a bad low, he is just being obstinante.

     

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      Balden, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 8:24am

      Re: Ron Paul

      Not sure exactly what you mean, but he knows what he's doing...

       

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      allergic2u, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 9:04am

      Re: Ron Paul

      I don't know. I'm pretty convinced Dr. Paul knew exactly what he was voting against in this instance. He's not exactly oblivious to technological concepts and indeed is a champion of network neutrality. At the very least he doesn't just regard the internet as a "series of tubes", which is sadly more than we can say for even the lawmakers in leadership positions on committees relevant to intellectual property.

      No, I don't believe Dr. Paul votes "NO" on so many things because he gets off on it. He votes no because the bills he sees do not coincide with his principles as a conservative and a Constitutionally-aware American citizen. And, of course, if you know anything about Dr. Paul and think his principles line up with yours, then looking at his track record of "NO" votes becomes something a little scarier than is worthy of mindless criticism.

       

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      Mike, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 10:17am

      Re: Ron Paul

      Isn't that a little presumptuous on your part? Did you actually confer with Rep. Paul?

       

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      LBD, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 12:44pm

      Re: Ron Paul

      Anything wrong with voting against everything?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 4:57pm

      Re: Ron Paul

      >>but he didn't know it was just a bad low, he is just being obstinante.

      You know this, how?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2007 @ 5:45am

      Re: Ron Paul

      Check your facts - There are many times that RP has voted yes.
      http://www.vote-smart.org/voting_category.php?can_id=296
      And if by obstinate you mean "not easily controlled or overcome", as for example, by lobby groups, then we could use a few more of those.

       

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      andshewas, Dec 7th, 2007 @ 6:09am

      Re: Ron Paul

      How do you know what Dr. Paul thinks? He absolutely does not vote "against everything." You should investigate his voting record so you don't end up looking like a moron on public forums.

       

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      Wizard Prang, Dec 10th, 2007 @ 7:29am

      Close but no cigar...

      He votes against anything that is not specifically authorized in the Constitution.

      An admirable trait for a public servant, methinks... and, apparently, so do his constituents, who have voted him in seven (I believe) times.

       

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    BTR1701, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 7:29am

    Ridiculous

    This is absolutely ridiculous. Now private citizens are even being conscripted in these draconian reporting requirements, upon pain of $300,000 fines? Anything to “protect the children”, I suppose. It’s getting so that every time I hear that phrase, I instinctively reach either for my wallet or my gun because it means someone else is about to try and take away either my money or my freedom (or both).

    And this is all based on criteria that the government has left purposefully vague. Pictures of minors (even fully-clothed) that are “overly lascivious”? What the hell does that mean? I guess it’s up to some government bureaucrat to decide you should have reported that picture of the high school cheerleading squad (which you had no idea was even a problem) that passed over your wi-fi network and then hit you with a fine equivalent to the cost of a brand new home for failing to do so.

    And then the way this was passed in the House really bugs me, too. It seems that this is becoming SOP for these guys every time they want to pass a bill that they know the people (you know, the folks they supposedly work for) might oppose. They rush it to the floor for a vote in practically the dead of night, with no committee votes or opportunity for the media to cover it, often even keeping the actual text of the bill under wraps so the other members of Congress can’t read it before the vote is called. They did it with that illegal immigration bill last summer and now they’ve done it here, too.

    These guys are out of control, plain and simple.

     

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      Casper, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 7:49am

      Re: Ridiculous

      And this is all based on criteria that the government has left purposefully vague. Pictures of minors (even fully-clothed) that are “overly lascivious”?


      It means you know have to store every slutty myspace upload that uses your wifi network... great. That won't be considered an invasion of privacy or anything if the parents find out...

       

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    T.J., Dec 6th, 2007 @ 7:32am

    Wait, what?

    How does this protect any children, anywhere? By fining Starbucks because someone sent a picture from MS Paint of a stick man with a weiner, and Starbucks failed to intercept it and save it into their records? Aren't there any more important issues then sitting around, taking away the freedoms this country was based on? I really wish Ron Paul had the support to win the election.

     

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    elmac, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 7:33am

    I cry at the idea that the people running the "free" (I us this very loosely) world are so stupid or that the people they lead are to the point that they let them get away with it. I’d call for a revolution but I’d just end up in violation of the patriot act and disappear never to be heard from again.

     

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    TheDock22, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 7:36am

    Well...

    Businesses who offer WiFi should have the resources to adhere to these new laws. And private people shouldn't have open WiFi anyway...

    What the heck are they thinking up on Capitol Hill though? Don't they realize that when places like MySpace or Facebook allow some predator to stalk a child that the bad publicity in itself will usually force them to hand that information over to police? Maybe they need to pass a stupid parent rule that if your child is online without supervision and you can't name all the people they are talking to, the police will take you out into the street and beat you with a sock full of quarters.

    Seriously, all the "dangers" that are online could be avoided if parents were more involved in their child's life and talked to them more about what is right or wrong on the Internet.

    My parents never policed what I did online, but back when I was child there was no Internet danger! No one tried to stalk me or get me to run away. Things are different now and people need to realize this. Let's actually think of the CHILDREN for once and toss out stupid, pointless laws like this.

     

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      BTR1701, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 7:42am

      Re: Well...

      > And private people shouldn't have open
      > WiFi anyway...

      Why not? Who the hell are you to determine who should and should not have open wi-fi?

       

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        TheDock22, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 7:45am

        Re: Re: Well...

        Because 90% of the people who do it are morons and then complain when they get hacked. Unless you are a computer tech or system administrator who can protect yourself, there is no reason to have an open WiFi connection at your house.

         

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          Casper, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 7:51am

          Re: Re: Re: Well...

          Because 90% of the people who do it are morons and then complain when they get hacked. Unless you are a computer tech or system administrator who can protect yourself, there is no reason to have an open WiFi connection at your house.


          What about the 10% that want to have an open network and do not want to be a cyber cop? This is an absurd argument. Since when did you have to have an excuse to exercise freedoms?

           

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            TheDock22, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 8:05am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...

            What about the 10% that want to have an open network and do not want to be a cyber cop? This is an absurd argument. Since when did you have to have an excuse to exercise freedoms?

            Wow, you are off your game today. I never suggested anyone be a cybercop. I just would assume those 10% would have some sort of firewall setup to keep their systems from being hacked.

            And if you bothered to read the rest of my post I think this bill is absurd. Read before posting.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 8:31am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...

              And if you bothered to read the rest of my post I think this bill is absurd. Read before posting.

              I don't know about Casper, but I could have sworn I read something about "And private people shouldn't have open WiFi anyway...". Even if you're otherwise against the bill that's still an asinine statement.

               

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                TheDock22, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 8:51am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...

                I don't know about Casper, but I could have sworn I read something about "And private people shouldn't have open WiFi anyway...". Even if you're otherwise against the bill that's still an asinine statement.

                The average home user should NOT have an open WiFi because they can not adequately protect themselves against attacks. Just like someone who has never shot a gun before, probably shouldn't own one without some knowledge on how to use it. It's not asinine, it's common sense. So is reading, because I have already posted a response explaining WHY I think the average home user shouldn't have open wifi.

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 9:57am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...

                  The average home user should NOT have an open WiFi because they can not adequately protect themselves against attacks.

                  That's not exactly what you said at first, now is it? And before you go trying to claim that it is, let me remind you that everyone can look right up above to see what you actually said. And it was asinine. Sucks that Techdirt doesn't let you go back and change history, doesn't it?

                   

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                    TheDock22, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 10:19am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...

                    Sucks that Techdirt doesn't let you go back and change history, doesn't it?

                    Yea and it also sucks that cowards can troll the blogs without contributing much of an argument. Debates go back and forth you know. I say something, you respond, I clarify, etc. After the clarification you seem to have nothing more to say, which means your argument is lame.

                     

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                      dorpass, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 10:29am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...

                      "After the clarification you seem to have nothing more to say, which means your argument is lame."

                      Nope. Your so called "clarification" just goes to support the old adage: Never argue with an idiot, he will drag you down to his level and then beat you with his experience. You obviously got experience in spades.

                       

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                        TheDock22, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 10:36am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...

                        Nope. Your so called "clarification" just goes to support the old adage: Never argue with an idiot, he will drag you down to his level and then beat you with his experience. You obviously got experience in spades.

                        Yea, no kidding. But I'm slightly bored today and arguing with idiots kills the time.

                         

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                        Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2007 @ 11:58am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...

                        Hey! Dorpass and TheDock22. The dynamic duo! They make a fitting couple.

                         

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                      identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2007 @ 11:55am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...

                      Yea and it also sucks that cowards can troll the blogs without contributing much of an argument.

                      Sounds like you're talking about yourself there. Basically, you just got caught lying (once again).

                      I say something, you respond, I clarify, etc

                      You make an asinine statement. Someone points it out. You try to deny you said it. And so it goes.

                       

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                  identicon
                  BTR1701, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 10:24am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...

                  > The average home user should NOT have an
                  > open WiFi because they can not adequately
                  > protect themselves against attacks.

                  Plenty of people forget to lock their car doors, too. Doesn't mean they shouldn't be allowed to have cars.

                  People forget to secure their homes, also. Doesn't mean there's no reason for them to have a home.

                  People don't always keep up to date with anti-virus software. Doesn't mean there's no reason for them to have a computer.

                  And more to the point, you don't get to decide the criteria by which the rest of us exercise our freedoms.

                   

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                    TheDock22, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 10:32am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...

                    Plenty of people forget to lock their car doors, too. Doesn't mean they shouldn't be allowed to have cars.

                    No, but if their car is stolen they should not complain when they sued because someone commits homicide with their car.

                    People forget to secure their homes, also. Doesn't mean there's no reason for them to have a home.

                    Again, no but they shouldn't complain when a burglar comes into their home, hurts themselves, and sues them for it. (which actually happens)

                    People don't always keep up to date with anti-virus software. Doesn't mean there's no reason for them to have a computer.

                    No, but again they shouldn't complain when they need to pay $80 to have their computer cleaned.

                    If people want to leave their connections open, fine, but they shouldn't be allowed to whine when something happens because of it. And they shouldn't whine if they are sued because of it.

                     

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                      identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 8:59pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...

                      Man, are we really all going to live in the hell that you are defining for us?

                      Why should I be guilty of homicide because someone used my car to do it? They did it. If they told me they were going to do it and I did nothing, sure that is wrong. But otherwise, well, it's twisted and insane to think I should be guilty of homicide.

                      The situations where courts have ruled in favor of burglars hurting themselves in the house they broke into is well, twisted and insane. The voters in the judge's districts should have voted him out of office.

                      Paying $80 to have their computer cleaned is not the same as paying 150,000 for not noticing someone is looking at sick stuff on your network. I don't go through my wife's Internet browsing history. It would take a long time and be boring. Like I could afford to spend the time looking at every image, etc that my customers at a coffee shop looked at to determine if it was legal or not.

                      My having an open Internet connection doesn't make someone look at child porn. They make that choice.

                       

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                      BTR1701, Dec 7th, 2007 @ 8:13am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...

                      > If people want to leave their connections
                      > open, fine, but they shouldn't be allowed
                      > to whine when something happens because of it.

                      Shouldn't be "allowed"? I wasn't aware people needed permission from you or anyone else to complain about anything. Who is going to be doing this "allowing" and what if someone complains without permission?

                       

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                        Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2007 @ 12:59pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...

                        Shouldn't be "allowed"? I wasn't aware people needed permission from you or anyone else to complain about anything. Who is going to be doing this "allowing" and what if someone complains without permission?
                        Having read some of her past posts, I believe she'd love to be a dictator.

                         

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                    TheDock22, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 10:34am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...

                    Besides, I never said the government should step in and force people to lock down their connections. I just said people shouldn't have them open if they don't know the consequences. It's advice, so I'm not trampling on anyones freedoms. I don't think the government should be involved.

                     

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                    Freedom, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 1:01pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...

                    >> The average home user should NOT have an open WiFi...

                    Whether or not you have the right to have an open WiFi is one argument, he is just saying that you shouldn't. If you don't like his opinion ignore it, but he is correct.

                    Having an open WiFi for an average non-technie home user is unwise at best. You can disagree all you want, but as someone that has to clean this stuff up, I can tell you from experience that it's not the best idea in the world without using some additional equipment or setup savvy to protect the internal systems of your home.

                    Besides, if you want to share your connection why not setup a quick WPA password and give it to those that you want to share the connection with. Essentially the best of both worlds and you'll have "trusted users" instead of worrying about someone parked in a vehicle outside your home using it for God only knows what...

                    Not many people leave their houses unlocked. Why you'd like your computers on the front doorstep for everyone to come by and use is beyond me, but it is your right if that's what you want to do...

                     

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              wth?, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 9:12am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...

              Wow, you are off your game today. I never suggested anyone be a cybercop. I just would assume those 10% would have some sort of firewall setup to keep their systems from being hacked. What does getting hacked have to do with anything? The law will still require you to snoop on any "suspicious" connecting through your open network. Your argument is idiotic. And next thing, you are going to say that every mom-and-pop coffee house as well as Starbucks should invest millions into becoming cyber cops. Brilliant.

               

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          identicon
          BTR1701, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 10:19am

          Re: Re: Re: Well...

          > Unless you are a computer tech or system
          > administrator who can protect yourself,
          > there is no reason to have an open WiFi
          > connection at your house.

          Last time I checked, I was the one who gets to decide what I do and do not have at my house and I don't have to justify my reasoning to you or anyone else.

           

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            TheDock22, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 10:39am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...

            Last time I checked, I was the one who gets to decide what I do and do not have at my house and I don't have to justify my reasoning to you or anyone else.

            Well that's a silly statement. I'm sure if you had nuclear weapons at your home you would be going to jail for it.

             

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              BTR1701, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 11:28am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...

              > I'm sure if you had nuclear weapons at
              > your home you would be going to jail for it.

              Ah, the old fallacy of reductio ad absurdum. The last refuge of the intellectually bankrupt.

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 1:01pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...

              And if you argued any poorer Socraties would have to come back from the dead to punch your nutz

               

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 12:59pm

      Re: Well...

      Businesses who offer WiFi should have the resources to adhere to these new laws. And private people shouldn't have open WiFi anyway... Funny, but I know many small business men, and cyber-cafes in town that would not agree. Or in my town. Or do you assume all businesses are large conglomerates with massive combined incomes? Starbucks is a franchise chain, so starbucks cafes only have as much income as they have, no matter how much the company as a whole makes. So if Micheal's shop (A friend of mine) had to start monitoring the use of their router they'd be in some trouble, financially, because of how much the equipment, time, and employees for that cost. They make less money (After deduction of expenses) then you would think. And they're actually somewhat popular: every time I go in, up until closing, I'm not the only customer. there's always a couple other people there, at least. So, yeah, more costs for franchises! Yay! (Sarcasim)

       

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      identicon
      Ryan, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 8:09pm

      Re: Well...

      Businesses who offer WiFi should have the resources to adhere to these new laws. And private people shouldn't have open WiFi anyway...

      I quite disagree.


      The Internet is the only close to free place left for unsanctioned truth to be spread. It must be owned and controlled by everyone to remain free.

      Businesses will run like hell from providing WI FI to anyone anonymously. They will have to know precisely who you are and have you electrically sign a whole bunch of stuff. Freaky child molesters will get their sick content in some other manner and Free WI FI will be destroyed. By free I don't just mean doesn't cost money to be used but I mean free as in freedom.

      It locks open the door for big brother to always be watching you because you had to tag your Internet presence with your identity.

      Most of us think no big deal, who cares? But what if you no longer have a government that serves the majority of people but instead a powerful minority? In such a situation, how do people work to solve such a crisis if everything they ever do that can be captured and tied to an identity can be used against them? What if it no longer matters if they do anything at all but authority says they did something wrong?

      In a situation where good people try and organize together to gather truth and try and bring it to the masses how can they do it if they are watched and content filtered nonstop by people whose interests are not the same as the masses?

      The Internet is the only free press left. Who owns the news channel you watch? Who owns the print media? Do you know them? They determine what you believe is reality. Why should a billion dollar corporation want you to know truth that doesn't benefit them for you to know? These people live quite different lives than the bulk of humanity. None of us should think they are fit to be our trusted advisers.

      The whole child predator thing is being used to give power over everyone. Our founding fathers believed that noone was an angel. Putting someone in charge doesn't make them one either. Checks and balances is the only way to balance power.

      What checks and balances do we have in a system that is increasingly rigged? Money and media control decides who gets elected. How much money and media control do most of us have? How do you know anything about reality to base who you vote for? Who decides who your choices of who to vote for in the first place are?

      The Internet is the only close to free place left for unsanctioned truth to be spread. It must be owned and controlled by everyone to remain free.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Poster, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 7:37am

    You want to protect the children?

    Protect them stupid laws like this.

     

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    TheDock22., Dec 6th, 2007 @ 7:41am

    Come to think of it...

    Laws like this are aimed at killing the Darwin Theory. Stupid parents = stupid offspring who do stupid things.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 11:44am

      Re: Come to think of it...

      No, laws like this are aimed at making money for the Govt by screwing anyone who might have some money running their own wifi service or like business. And then we'll just call it "protecting the children" in the process so that everyone is "oh yay!" for it.

      By the way, you're dumb, as you comment doesn't really relate to the topic at all. This law would just put innocent people in jail, like most laws made after 1850. I'm not a history buff, so don't bother bashing, but you get the idea.

       

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      Anon, Dec 7th, 2007 @ 4:57am

      Re: Come to think of it...

      Genetics only makes up a small part of a persons I.Q., which is being defined in different ways.

      Your broad, subjective generalization of stupid does not help in anyway.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 7:41am

    So, if everyone who ran an open wifi, or webmail forwarded all obscene emails (spam and whatnot) to the "authorities", wouldn't that A) flood the system, B) make them liable for not following through.

    To be honest, I don't 100% understand what content is in question, but seems like the best way to show how obscene something is, is follow the law to the letter. After 2-3 days, and hundreds of thousands of emails later, perhaps the "theys" will rethink it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 7:41am

    So, if everyone who ran an open wifi, or webmail forwarded all obscene emails (spam and whatnot) to the "authorities", wouldn't that A) flood the system, B) make them liable for not following through.

    To be honest, I don't 100% understand what content is in question, but seems like the best way to show how obscene something is, is follow the law to the letter. After 2-3 days, and hundreds of thousands of emails later, perhaps the "theys" will rethink it.

     

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    No more pictures of my children, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 7:42am

    for Grandma

    So I guess if send pictures of my kids in the bathtub to Grandma both me, my ISP, gmail and Grandma can get fined?

    This is just another fine example of Congress pandering to the public in an election year.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 8:34am

      Re: for Grandma

      So I guess if send pictures of my kids in the bathtub to Grandma both me, my ISP, gmail and Grandma can get fined?

      That can get you sent to prison these days.

       

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    Dan, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 7:44am

    The just don't understand

    This is the sort of legislation that could actually slow America's ability to compete in the communication age. In truth we need to open up the network, cloud, Wi-Fi, whatever you want to call it, so that we can always be connected. The last thing we want is users of Wi-Fi to be concerned that every move they make online is being watched.

    Guarding children is very important, but controlling the means of which child pornography is distributed doesn't stop the act - it only makes it harder to detect by the larger social network.

     

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    Ferin, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 7:44am

    I smeel a smack down

    Something tells me this is gonna go the way of COPA and friends. This law couldn't be worth less if it was written on used toilet paper.

     

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    Rick, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 7:57am

    It's the God police.

     

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    That Guy, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 8:03am

    Do they get honorary sheriff's badges too?

    In a nutshell this seems like the Govt is forcing individual organizations to perform "wire tap" like services on behalf of the federal government.

    I can understand them passing legislation to make it easy for govt agencies to gather information on suspected offenders, and force the compliance of organizations to assist in that process. However, this amounts to forcing organizations to act as independent law enforcement entities.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 8:39am

      Re: Do they get honorary sheriff's badges too?

      In a nutshell this seems like the Govt is forcing individual organizations to perform "wire tap" like services on behalf of the federal government.
      Our politicians are determined to adopt the ways of the former East Germany. They're practically drooling over the prospects.

       

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    Ed Kless, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 8:07am

    Contradictory Legislation

    This legislation could be right out of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.

     

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    Just Me, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 8:15am

    "...to record and report information any time they "learn" that their network was used for certain broadly defined illegal activities concerning obscene images."

    So don't log anything, don't monitor anything and don't sniff anything and you're in the clear.
    Plausible deny ability right there.
    "I can track what my friends do on my wireless router? I had no idea" and your free to go.
    ...If only...

     

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      Chronno S. Trigger, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 8:30am

      Re:

      Or you can just say "I know I can track what happens on my network I just don't so I have no way of knowing what people are doing."

      Sad to say, that probably won't get you off the hook. One part of this bill is that anyone who douse not comply with this bill will be fined $150,000 the first time and $300,000 the fallowing times. Compliance isn't defined.

      I don't know if I should turn off my internet connection permanently or open up my WiFi and take it to court if they come a' knocking.

       

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    MadJo (profile), Dec 6th, 2007 @ 8:18am

    There goes the chance of municipal Wifi

    And the wifi you sometimes find in airports and hotels.

    And ISPs don't have a safe harbor provision anymore, they now have to know what their customers are sending through there networks.
    Clueless doesn't even begin to describe it. Is the US Congress also affected by the same problem that Universal Music CEOs seem to have? (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20071127/011720.shtml)
    Are they unable to find any experts that could help them make an educated judgement on this issue?

     

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    Overcast, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 8:36am

    When congress says 'Protect the children' - they are specifically talking about THEIR children - not mine, not yours. And they are protecting them by gaining more personal power and money for financial security.

     

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    Nick (profile), Dec 6th, 2007 @ 9:05am

    Let's see them try to pass a law for making the telcos accountable for when someone uses a phone to commit a crime, and requires them to record the conversation. It is the same thing.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 9:33am

    Seems to me like the US government just wants to get free p0rn without bothering to surf for it. =D

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 10:01am

      Re:

      Seems to me like the US government just wants to get free p0rn without bothering to surf for it.

      LOL

      good point

       

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    JDigital, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 10:00am

    Lawsuit?

    So when the government forces me to view, save, and transmit child pornography wouldn't I have a helluva legal leg to stand on being as I'm this deeply religious American? Simply the thought of having to do this is inflicting so much emotional suffering onto me that I can no longer live a happy life...

     

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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Dec 6th, 2007 @ 10:05am

    LOL

    Response by AC #39 has got the be the best comment.
    Absolutely hilarious. I love it.


    ..

    ..

    Probably true too come to think of it ...

     

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    anon, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 10:23am

    missing an opportunity

    Aren't you guys overlooking an opportunity? If the bill passes into law, hang around the local offices of the Congresscriters that voted for it. Most probably have a wireless network, most that vote for it are obviously stupid (I refer you to their vote as evidence) and likely have open wifi. Surf some porn, wait a few days, turn them in, have them get fined. This is called education via negative feedback ... or maybe poetic justice :).

     

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      Brian, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 12:25pm

      Re: missing an opportunity

      Haha...nice. That would certainly be justice although there's probably a loophole or two for institutions like senators.

       

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    Glenn Fleishman, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 10:48am

    "How does this protect any children, anywhere? By fining Starbucks because someone sent a picture from MS Paint of a stick man with a weiner, and Starbucks failed to intercept it and save it into their records?"

    It would have to be a stick figure of a child with a weiner...then you're in trouble. In fact, if you think about what I just wrote, I'll have to report you.

     

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    anon, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 11:10am

    rerererereerer retarded

    I wish ron paul would die in a fire

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 11:19am

    "...report information any time they "learn" that their network was used for..."

    ignorance is bliss

     

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    TerpsFreak (profile), Dec 6th, 2007 @ 11:39am

    Vote The Bums Out Of Office

    Let's continue on with the #1 parenting method in the US which is increasingly disenfranchising our children and destroying the future of the planet.

    How much do we pay those vapid fools in congress to run our country? How could anyone think it's ok to pass laws which further celebrate the ills of society? I don't know, but the odds aren't bad that the "butt wadd" in Nebraska who shot a bunch of people had parents who allowed the media to babysit him instead of actually paying attention to him.

    if (vapid congress = less civil freedom) and (lazy parents = less civil freedom) and (evangelical right wing nuts = less civil freedom)
    then (vapid congress + lazy parents + evangelical right wing nuts) = (group sent to colonize Uranus)

    VIVA LA REVOLUCION!!!!!!

     

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    Matthew, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 11:45am

    Query:

    How does this not fly directly in the face of the safe harbor provision of the DMCA law?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 11:51am

    The reason why it was rushed...

    ...is because the SAFE Act has much more to do with curbing the power of the Patriot Act than anything else. The SAFE Act redefines terrorists and adds in review and report requirements to items like wiretaps. Sadly it also screws all of us that run open wi-fi networks (like the seven in my hotels).

     

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    PeopleGeek, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 11:54am

    Open WiFi trouble

    Picture this car wreck.

    100 Senators.
    100 cameras.
    100 linksys wireless routers new in boxes.

    "Okay Old Men. Set up those routers. I need WPA encryption
    and a password that you can remember. You have 2 hours."

     

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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Dec 6th, 2007 @ 12:51pm

    Re #67

    At the rate our governments been going? No. Nothing wrong with it all.

     

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    John, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 3:40pm

    Two points

    1) We're back to the issue of what's "obscene". Not counting the possible copyright issues, is a picture from Playboy obscene or is it art?
    Is a raunchy cartoon of the Simpsons obscene? It's a cartoon.

    Or is the definition of "obscene" going to vary from state to state and from courts to court?

    2) The fact that the law *may* be struck down in court is almost beside the point. This law shouldn't have been passed in the first place. Lawmakers are counting on people to NOT challenge it in court. Sure, some organization (like the EFF) may take up the case, but how long will it be until the case is heard? How long will it take for the law to be struck down (if at all)?

    And in the meantime, how many people will be caught by this law when they're simply adults looking at adult pictures?
    Or is this the first step to censoring the Internet?

     

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    Diana Moneymaker, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 4:40pm

    What the heck?

    In the name of children!? What bull crap.

    Over 400 old farts voted for this? It goes to show that government does not keep up with the times and are destroying our freedom.

    Only two people voted against it. One of those people was Ron Paul.

    Ron Paul 2008!

    -Diana

     

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    Barrenwaste, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 7:59pm

    Yay!

    It is now illegal to surf the internet. What is considered appropriate veiwing material varies from state to state, county to county. This makes things hard enough, but now lets also consider the nature of the internet. At work I have to surf the internet to find new product and new suppliers. In the course of my searches I invariably find great sites for penis enlargement, dating, big breasted women, and any fetish you can think of. This isn't because I am looking for it, this is because many of the people running these sites associate them with words that have no bearing on the subject but because of the nature of search engines send the surfer blissuly into porn ambushes. Now, I also have WiFi, and yes, it is protected, but I also work in a college town. There are two campuses in town and both offer great tech courses. I get hacked everyday. Before this law I didn't really care as the hackers weren't malicious, just mischevious. They'd get a little free internet and some time to cruise an adult site or order 300 pairs of pink underwear for thier football coach. Since my money wasn't touched, my business wasn't touched, I didn't care. Now, under law I have to try to poilice an entire college town? I'm screwed.

     

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    Ryan, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 8:15pm

    Open WiFi is necessary.

    The Internet is the only close to free place left for unsanctioned truth to be spread. It must be owned and controlled by everyone to remain free.

    Businesses will run like hell from providing WI FI to anyone anonymously. They will have to know precisely who you are and have you electrically sign a whole bunch of stuff. Freaky child molesters will get their sick content in some other manner and Free WI FI will be destroyed. By free I don't just mean doesn't cost money to be used but I mean free as in freedom.

    It locks open the door for big brother to always be watching you because you had to tag your Internet presence with your identity.

    Most of us think no big deal, who cares? But what if you no longer have a government that serves the majority of people but instead a powerful minority? In such a situation, how do people work to solve such a crisis if everything they ever do that can be captured and tied to an identity can be used against them? What if it no longer matters if they do anything at all but authority says they did something wrong?

    In a situation where good people try and organize together to gather truth and try and bring it to the masses how can they do it if they are watched and content filtered nonstop by people whose interests are not the same as the masses?

    The Internet is the only free press left. Who owns the news channel you watch? Who owns the print media? Do you know them? They determine what you believe is reality. Why should a billion dollar corporation want you to know truth that doesn't benefit them for you to know? These people live quite different lives than the bulk of humanity. None of us should think they are fit to be our trusted advisers.

    The whole child predator thing is being used to give power over everyone. Our founding fathers believed that noone was an angel. Putting someone in charge doesn't make them one either. Checks and balances is the only way to balance power.

    What checks and balances do we have in a system that is increasingly rigged? Money and media control decides who gets elected. How much money and media control do most of us have? How do you know anything about reality to base who you vote for? Who decides who your choices of who to vote for in the first place are?

    The Internet is the only close to free place left for unsanctioned truth to be spread. It must be owned and controlled by everyone to remain free.

     

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    Archer, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 8:38pm

    today's gov't

    "...of the people, for the people, and by the people" HAH!!
    should read "...of the rich, for themselves, by any means neccessary"

     

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    Ryan, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 8:38pm

    Who governs communication? Who profits from owning

    In the future every household could have a cheap wireless router able to communicate with it's neighbors. You don't need many telecom services if every suburban and urban area's telecommunication infrastructure is provided by it's citizens.

    Almost every house would have a router in a giant mesh network.

    No more paying for Internet access. No more paying for cell phone access.

    The Telecommunications industry doesn't want a world where we don't need them.

    We can provide for ourselves largely but they like siphoning.

    Scaring everyone out of the "business" of providing Internet service is what this law is doing.

    There doesn't have to be a business. If everyone buys a fast wireless router and lets everyone in after downloading a security config from the vendor or trusted source, then you can call your mom anywhere in town for free. You can get a map, you can check email, whatever. And you don't need to pay through the nose to do it.

    You also don't have corporations content filtering you or gathering information about you. Our lives are becoming too tied to network resources for everything we do that involves accessing one to be documented and data mined.

    Any information that "you willingly provide to a third party" be it cookies, purchases, whatever can be shared with Uncle Sam without a warrant or any legal process at all. What if some day Uncle Sam becomes not a nice guy? What if having too much power and control and knowing everyone's business makes him a real jerk?

    Trust your neighbors more. Love your neighbors. Get to know them. They are your people. Not the media, not the government. The media has us all thinking there are murderers and child molesters around every corner. Fear is an enemy of freedom. Your neighbors can watch out for you and your kid. People online can work to bring in the sickos too. Trusting in government absolutely gives it too much power.

    We all need to take care of each other and work together to insure government isn't the only one with the power to make things right or wrong.

     

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    Seth Finkelstein, Dec 6th, 2007 @ 8:42pm

    Wolf-crying

    Look folks, when you see the byline "Declan McCullagh", you should automatically flag any story carrying it with "Take with a whole salt-shaker", with an icon of a big bag of rock-salt

    Here's one rebuttal.

    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20071206-safe-act-wont-turn-mom-and-pop-shops-into -wifi-cops.html

    SAFE Act won't turn mom-and-pop shops into WiFi cops

     

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      MadJo (profile), Dec 7th, 2007 @ 1:21am

      Re: Wolf-crying

      That one rebuttal is poorly written, and relies much on the words of the bill's sponsor, who doesn't even seem to know what the law was about. ("he had to check in with policy staffers before confirming [that the broad interpretation was incorrect]")
      Talk about a shameful piece of journalism!

      Have you even looked at the law itself and tried to interpret it? Did you come to the same conclusions as Ars.Technica?
      If so, then even then it's a bad law, because it has many different interpretations.

       

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    Twinrova, Dec 7th, 2007 @ 3:58am

    New Law Means Nothing Because People Won't Follow

    There are a ton of laws out there regarding the internet and the only ones who are following it are those who feel they can make a profit from it.

    The report said one thing that's true: Politicians passed this law to feel they're doing something to protect the children.

    But the fact is, they're not really protecting children at all. But it's going to take several generations of politicians to figure it out (aka, the kids today grow up).

    It's a shame, really, because the internet had so much potential to be something good. Now it's nothing more than a virus center, ad center, and apparently a place where child pornography runs rampant.

    Of course, this isn't true, but I just don't get why people don't do anything about this crap (The fine idiots of Indiana will definitely get an "earful" of my complaint).

    Folks, spread the love. Write to your politician and let them know they made a HUGE mistake and that they're incredibly stupid about technology.

    I give the internet 5 more years before it becomes something worthless to visit. Much like television and radio.

     

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    Steve, Dec 7th, 2007 @ 5:51am

    Wifi

    I always wonder why Philadelphia scratched the community wi fi program. They decided months ago not to make the entire city wireless.
    I really loved being able to broadcast my Live internet radio show from anyplace I decided to sit an eat lunch. www.blogtalkradio.com/collegeradio

    Back to the tech board to figure out the next craze.

     

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    bneals, Dec 7th, 2007 @ 5:53am

    The bad outweighs the good

    As a member of law enforcement, I can tell you that open wifi presents a huge problem for us. Savy traders of child pornography use these open networks to send illegal images and child pornography. Sorry to say it, but the criminals ruined this for you. Blaming the government for taking something away from you is blaming the wrong party. The government is actually doing what needs to be done.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2007 @ 12:27pm

      Re: The bad outweighs the good

      As a member of law enforcement, I can tell you that open wifi presents a huge problem for us.

      Open WiFi is a huge problem for tyrants. You're the type of "member" that gives law enforcement a bad name. In fact, you're worse than the criminals you're supposedly protecting us from.

      Sorry to say it, but the criminals ruined this for you.

      Then don't say it, because it isn't true. It's the tyrants that are ruining things. My children have much more to fear from the likes of you than they do open WiFi.

      The government is actually doing what needs to be done.

      Oh, sure. "We're from the government and we're here to help. Now hold still, this is for your own good."

       

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    stu, Dec 7th, 2007 @ 5:58am

    FREEDOM

    We make our own freedom and it doesn't go away just because the government tells it to. Its not commonsense to think that people will actually report stuff. Just Government delusions. This isn't the end of anything by a long shot.

     

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    StrangeRanger, Dec 7th, 2007 @ 6:15am

    This is just stupid

    I wish there was a big ole button to push that would just flush away everyone in congress/senate and we could start over.
    I guess I still just don't understand how or why it ever became the service provider's responsibility to POLICE what people do online. Following this "logic" shouldn't we hold Mobil/Exxon responsible when someone gets a speeding ticket or DUI? I mean, they did in fact sell you the gasoline to run your car.

     

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    Mike McKay, Dec 7th, 2007 @ 7:05am

    Police State : Shutting down WiFi in MPLS Librarie

    I spoke to 2 people about this law while it was being pushed through; a guy who owns a small chain of coffee shops in Minneapolis, and a Minneapolis Public Library manager.

    ** Both said that if the law passes, they will simply shut down WiFi and Public Internet Access to avoid liability, which is exactly what Bush and the Congress wants. **

    The Congress, and specifically the current Bush Administration does not want poor people, students, and average Joe Citizen having easy access to information during an election cycle.

    Our elected officials also want to control people’s ability to express themselves and their opinions anonymously as it makes it difficult for private security contractors to find people who post anti-government information, stalk them, and ultimately harm them.

    They want to put scare and ultimately penalize anyone who provides a mechanism for people to access information and possibly express their opinions about our current and future government without the fear of repercussion!

    An appropriate response to the law is for everyone in the US to open up as many wireless access points as possible. Maybe they will round everyone up and put them in Dick Cheney-Halliburton behavioral correction camps.

    This is just one step closer to a police state.

    Thanks Neo-Con Sociopaths.

    Thanks Bush Administration.

    Thanks spineless Congress.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2007 @ 7:40am

    No matter how you twist this, Bush is a dildo, congress is a hand, and we are the PUS. We keep getting screwed!!! What sense does this make ( And we all know the common sense is not common). If you really want to help or protect the kids, help get them off the street, improve schools, educate them with knowledge not junk. This country makes me sick. They are a bunch of smart dumb assholes.

     

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    robw, Dec 7th, 2007 @ 8:22am

    Compitent

    Sure, the supreme court may be compitent, but are they competent? I don't recall the consitution giving everyone a 'right to free porn' so I doubt the community internet services are protected by the constitution... therefore the supreme court (being competent) would have no basis for overturning the law.

     

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    Abe, Dec 7th, 2007 @ 9:09am

    well thats capitalism 101 for you! This provision, when it goes into effect it wil dismay many cities like chicago to offer free wi-fi! now we have to pay for wi-fi! has anybody ever payed fpor lisning to the radio, its almost the same signal! NOW THOSE POLITICIANS WHO VOTED YES FOR THIS LAW WILL BE SCREAMING YES WHEN THEY ARE SHOWERED WITH MONEY FROM HUGE COMPANIES LIKE ATT AND COMCAST! ORIVATE SECT COMPANIES THAT ALREADY RIP US OFF!

     

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    n/a, Dec 7th, 2007 @ 9:32am

    wow what was the congress thinking? to protect the children? when they didn't even passed those children insurance bill...?

     

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    radio, Dec 7th, 2007 @ 9:46am

    Lack of control + idiot politicians

    Do they even realize that, unless you're running Ethereal or something of the sort against your WiFi network, or monitoring the logs religiously, that you have no way of knowing what people are surfing? Especially when it comes to images. You get url's and IP's, not image-names and/or obvious references such as "Childporn.jpg" or "HowToMakePipeBombs.gif".

    Politicians who know nothing of the technology they're trying to restrict make me sick. (actually, politicians in general make me sick, just as a rule)

    Using Tor, or some encrypted proxy, and all that supposed control goes out the window anyhow, or are they going to shut down EVERY proxy out there, EVERY program that protects online privacy, legitimately or not? Good luck. When they can monitor brain activity for illegal thoughts, they still won't be happy.

     

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    Rob J, Dec 7th, 2007 @ 10:02am

    Who voted against this!

    Well only two people in congress had the guts to say this is another stupid control that won't work. One is running for President. Ron Paul does vote his talk. It is an unconstitutional law and he voted against it. Guess that says what we need to say to our idiots in congress. Time for a real change in our personal liberties!

     

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    Jason, Dec 7th, 2007 @ 10:41am

    Mikey!

    Mike McKay,

    You're a bit of a nutter, aren't you?

     

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    shdwsclan, Dec 7th, 2007 @ 11:15am

    A lot if it will get struck down.
    It requires the policing of network.....and then there is the part about the drawing which contain no real children being illegal....this was actually struck down by the supreme court a few years ago where caricatures were not considered porn since there were no real children in them...

     

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    J, Dec 7th, 2007 @ 1:05pm

    Well, what's the point of talking about it too much if no one is going to take it seriously? The law exists but is not in effect - it sounds to me like it's a political thing, not something that will effect people's behavior unless they are aware of this new law and sincerely believe that someone will enforce it. Downloading music is illegal, too, but I doubt that it is curbed much by a tiny bit of enforcement - too widespread. You can't do much to fight the tide and I think most people will ignore this and treated it accordingly - as the BS that it really is.

     

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    Coaster, Dec 8th, 2007 @ 9:08am

    in a nutshell...or maybe a nutters shell...

    So, the childrens health insurance thing didn't pass, but teenage pregnancies are up. This must protect our children from competition for the little health care left to them, by ensuring that more of them die. Thank goodness the government is looking out for the children.

    God, I mean, the government, has decided that our children should grow up believing that people are sexless genderless beings, and they are going to be so insulated from those ideas, images, discussions, etc that the entire concept of sex will vanish. They want us to raise our children in a Pleasantville bubble, where they do not learn that there might be other points of view on religion, evolution, war, history, freedoms of speech, the press and thought. They want our children to be so protected against growing up that we will eventually be governed by a generation of blissfully ignorant gender neutral illiterate simpletons.

    "Protect the children" my ass. George Orwell must be spinning in his grave to see how much further we've taken his idea.

    Protecting the children against information. Because the more you know..

    Now you better listen to Mother and Father Government, and quit thinking those individual thoughts, or we'll have to report you.

     

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    take pills die cult, Dec 10th, 2007 @ 9:54pm

    1984 Doublespeak / Newspeak

    Everything they say is the opposite! What they are really saying is "don't protect the children!" "kill the children!" and of couse as always, "kill the poor!"

     

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    b zane, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 6:09pm

    Legal, UnFettered access is EVERYWHERE, and GROWING

    Legal, UnFettered access is EVERYWHERE, and GROWING
    - - - - - - - - - - Jan 2009 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Aw, come on ! ! !
    Download child pornography
    Download copyrighted movies and music via P2P
    Download Warez and abuse your bandwidth
    Send bomb hoaxes, terror or threatening emails.
    Send spam (sexual aids, pharmacy or money laundering scams)
    Are you for real ?
    Most big cities, most towns, motels and coffee shops have, and encourage your unfettered use of their FREE access.
    -
    Most SUPERIOR COURTHOUSES in California provide open on-premises access. I'll bet your state is the same.
    - -
    Check out the emerging Google/San_Francisco partnership.
    This will be *full* coverage.
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/04/08/BUGROI5S5J1.DTL
    - -
    I want fiber speeds via wireless for FREE. Don't You.
    Come on, don't lie to me or yourself.
    - - - - -
    I mean if you own a bank, drug store or employment agency, OK . . .turn on WEP/WAP/anything. But *knock off* the B.S. scare tactics.

     

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