UK Politicians Demand YouTube Vet Content To 'Protect The Children'

from the the-end-of-safe-harbors dept

Various safe harbors for service providers that protect them from the actions of their users make a lot of common sense. It's simply wrong to blame a service provider for the actions of its users. We don't blame the telephone company when someone commits a crime using the phone. And we don't blame the car company for providing the getaway car. Nor do we ask those companies to do anything to block those actions. That's because we all realize how silly that is -- to blame a tool provider for the actions of its users. Yet, for some reason, when we move online, that concept gets confused. While most of the focus has been on safe harbors concerning copyright or defamation, when you toss in a bit of "but think of the children!" it gets even more ridiculous.

We've already seen this with US politicians bullying ISPs into blocking "objectionable" content, even though they have no legal basis for this (and, in fact, such blocking will only make it more difficult to track down those actually responsible). And, now we see it in the UK. UK MPs are claiming that Google needs to vet all of the content uploaded to YouTube "to protect children from harmful content." Seriously.

I guess it's only in the techie community that we recognize that the phrase "to protect the children" is almost always followed by a plan that does the opposite.

The politicians seem concerned that occasionally, questionable content is found on YouTube, and it might take them (gasp!) 24 hours to take it down. Apparently it has not occurred to those behind this demand that perhaps they should be focused on using the content being uploaded to track down those actually responsible for the objectionable (illegal?) content, rather than demanding that Google proactively hide the evidence. Next up, we'll be expecting the report where politicians demand that telephone companies "proactively" review all telephone calls to make sure there is no objectionable content "to protect children."


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 9:31am

    Europe doesn't deserve YouTube...

    Seriously, I guess the "Old World" can't handle this newfangled stuff.

    It's time for Google to "get off their lawn".

     

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  2.  
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    dude, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 9:45am

    You think stupidity at that level doesn't occur here too?
    Wrong there, pal.

     

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  3.  
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    sonofdot, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 9:47am

    We should vet the politicians

    We should vet the politicians before they're allowed to run for elected office.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Boost, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 9:55am

    This sounds familiar....

    Oh yeah, I know, it sounds just like gun control. It doesn't actually work, but people still scream about it anyway...often, to protect the children.

     

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  5.  
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    aaron, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 10:02am

    may be they would learn...

    May be they would learn if victims of DUI's would start holding the bars and car companies responsible. If the government can blame the internet providers, why can't we blame them?

     

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  6.  
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    ScaredMommyHater, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 10:03am

    Dont cover the world in bubble wrap!

    Firstly its not my responsiblity to raise your kid. If I see them lost or hurt somewhere I would certainly do what I could to help as I believe most adults would (its just in our nature as humans). However it is not my responsibility to prevent them from watching, viewing, reading, or believing in anything. That is YOUR responsibility as a parent . . . live up to it! Stop trying to cover the world in bubble wrap to protect your kid, some of us like the view.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous of Course, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 10:07am

    An Objection

    The majority of YouTube content that I've
    seen is harmless fun. Occasionally it
    is excellent. That said, some of the most
    objectionable and harmful content is
    generated by children.

    Beyond video of vicious attacks, animals
    set on fire and other criminal behavior,
    there are the comments. Never read the
    comments if you wish to remain hopeful
    about the future (after all the children
    are our future.)

    I think these MPs would be better serving
    their public by hunting down some of the
    more egregious perpetrators and bringing
    them to justice.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    tabs, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 10:09am

    What the.......

    They won't get this through. they can't get this through, they musn't get this through.

    I know our polititions have only been exposed to the interwebs in the later half of their lives but cmnon,

    listen to your advisors, not your spin doctors, claiming the "Protect the children" vote time and time again will only lead to resentment and loss of power.

    Hopefully our antiquated system will stop this getting through and it will be stopped by the House of lords.

    And if not then it will be appealed again and again and again until it reaches the big boy courts and the law lords better smite this down.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Matt, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 10:09am

    The Vast Universe we call the Internet

    Do they not realize that anyone could setup a website instantly with little to no personal information about themselves. And on this instantly deliverable media platform deliver any and all content to the end-user? targeting specific sites saying they have to moderate their content is removing one needle from a syringe factory, opening the doors and screaming "Come on in children, it's now safe to play." (This would probably sound more funny in a Lewis Black voice).

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    CastorTroy, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 10:10am

    Re: Dont cover the world in bubble wrap!

    My new hero :)

    Seconded, all in favor say AYE!!!

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    DrE, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 10:22am

    But tool baning is more common than you imply

    While agree with the main point of the article, you didn't mention the bane on guns to prevent murder or the bane on drugs to prevent ?? what I'm not sure. Our politicians have previously believed, generally without evidence or in the face of contradictory evidence that banning tools is a good way to control human behavior. This is just another in a long line of public policy for votes rather than public policy for real benefit to society. Sigh...

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 10:28am

    Question for you all....

    a. Do you support gun control?
    b. Do you support internet content control?

    Please answer in YES or NO.

    Me: YES and YES

    (I agree current methods suck and we need better methods. But the intention itself isn't bad)

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Stephen Christian, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 10:33am

    Re: This sounds familiar....

    It's knife control that's needed to protect the children. Then it will be rock control and then fingernail control and finally nerf control.

    The British are so nutty about protecting the children you can't even have kids appear in video games (like Fallout 2) in case you virtually abused the virtual kids. Dunno if that craziness still holds but I'd bet it does.

    In reality, though, the politicians know exactly what they're doing. Techies are acquiring too much power. Politicians are giving them smack-downs. Common sense doesn't play a part in a smack-down -- just watch pro-wrestling.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    udamdirtyape, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 10:39am

    Who decides whats objectionable?

    What exactly harms children? I'd say most of the vapid, senseless tripe on television harms children. I'd say inattentive and disinterested parents harm children. I'd say that the policies of the politicians that are sold to the 'masses of asses' out there on the basis 'protecting the children' harm children. The truth is, policies like these are simply a foot in the door, so that someday the powerful, and the politicians they own can quickly remove from public view what harms them, and their continued hegemonic aspirations.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    udamdirtyape, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 10:42am

    Re: Question for you all....

    No, and no.

    (you understand nothing of their intentions, you only think you do.)

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Name, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 10:42am

    Just Block IT by IP

    Just block their entire sets of IP blocks from even accessing YouTube. Maybe a little time off will make them realize what a stupid idea that is. Hell, turn off their Google access too...ya know..for the the children.

     

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  17.  
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    kevjohn, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 10:53am

    Screw 'em.

    I'm tired of doing things 'for the children'. How come no one ever did anything 'for the children' when I was a children?? I am going to take a bold stand right here and right now. I am officially against the children, every single one of them. Who's with me?

     

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  18.  
    icon
    WarOtter (profile), Jul 31st, 2008 @ 10:53am

    Graaagh!

    I can't wait to have a kid so I can:
    Keep my house non childproof
    Teach them to ride bikes without a helmet
    Let them learn for themselves that stoves can be hot
    Play full contact sports
    Make them eat their dinner, whether they like it or not
    Beat them when they're bad
    Kick them out of the house on nice days
    Give them slingshots and bb guns
    Let them play at neighborhood construction sites

    "Children are smarter than you think. I don't know any children with two jobs and children." - Bill Hicks

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Evil Mike, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 10:55am

    Re: Re: Dont cover the world in bubble wrap!

    Aye.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    EO, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 10:58am

    there's precedent

    Kiddies: we have laws all over the place to protect children Pick up a law text book, I'm not making this up. The precedent here is quite clear: those who serve as outlets for "adult material" (which is latest euphemism for really raunchy or violent stuff) are held responsible for keeping it out of the reach of children even as they are given license for distributing to adults. Have you visited a convenience store lately? Notice that the "adult" magazines are kept behind the counter. The same thinking applies here: the people who are clever enough to put up a service like YouTube should be clever enough to figure out a way to filter the questionable material from a segment of their users/viewers. And if they can't figure it out, then decency (eeek! and old-fashioned word!) demands that they screen it completely.
    You'll get it once you have kids of your own. Until then, trust an old-fogie on this one.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 10:59am

    Re: Question for you all....

    NO and NO.

    Ignorant schlubb.

    Gun control puts control of your life in the hands of those willing to break the law to get guns, or those whom your government deems to give guns to!

    Internet control puts control of your life in the hands of those willing to break the law to get Internet, or those whom your government deems to give Internet to!

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    udamdirtyape, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 11:13am

    Re: Screw 'em.

    Yes, screw'em... Why don't our governments to stop deficit spending or failing education 'for the children'?

    The truth is they don't give a rats-ass about YOUR children.

    They use 'the children' to further their control over the already-too-child-like minds of the parents of all these precious f'n children.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Nobody, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 11:17am

    Re: Dont cover the world in bubble wrap!

    "If I see them lost or hurt somewhere I would certainly do what I could to help as I believe most adults would (its just in our nature as humans). "

    Actually, that would put you in the serious minority, at least here in the U.S.

    A recent report (couple months back) on the news showed that hundreds of people will walk right by a child in distress (sitting on the sidewalk and crying), without a second thought. This was regardless of age, sex or race of the child.

    The few people that did stop were elderly women (read Grandmas) or other kids that made their parents stop.

    If that is not the ultimate indication that our society is completely screwed up, I don't know what is.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    jonnyq, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 11:24am

    Re: Re: Dont cover the world in bubble wrap!

    When I see a child crying, I usually assume it's because the other kids didn't play fair... I don't assume the worse. How is that an indication that our society is screwed up?

    What worries me is the people who see a crying child in Walmart and assume he's being abused.

    Though, I do see part of your point - there's nothing wrong with trying to be helpful. But there is something wrong with assuming the worst and causing a situation when none exist.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Me, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 11:32am

    Nice...

    Nice to see that we Yanks don't have the market on idiot techno-phobe politicians quite cornered yet...

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re: Dont cover the world in bubble wrap!

    How is "crying" an idication of distress?

    Children cry all the time. I'll help when I see blood, injury, or fear.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    udamdirtyape, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 11:41am

    Re: Question for you all....

    By the by, the second amendment to the constitution's purpose is not as an anti-crime measure.

    It was designed as an anti-tyranny measure. It seems like everybody in America has lost their minds. We fail to accurately understand own nation's history, and our responsibilities as citizens of this nation.

    We started a war with our parent country because of a few pennies in taxes. We were then an armed nation of individuals working collectively.

    Now we seem to be a nation of cowards, so afraid of the faceless 'other' that we give up essential liberty for a little safety.

    I for one am more afraid of the uncontrolled abuse of power that is coming from our government than every member of AL-queda combined.

    The same goes for internet censorship, they remove first all the unpopular speech, you know, the stuff all the mindless multitudes can all agree is 'dangerous', then they censor a little more and a little more.

    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." ~Thomas Jefferson

    It looks like almost time to 'water the tree.'

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 11:51am

    Re: Re: Question for you all....

    Here here!

    Time will be.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    ScaredMommyHater, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 11:56am

    Re: Re: Dont cover the world in bubble wrap!

    "A recent report (couple months back) on the news showed that hundreds of people will walk right by a child in distress (sitting on the sidewalk and crying), without a second thought. This was regardless of age, sex or race of the child."


    My guess is this is because they were scared of being accused as molesters or abductors. I truly believe there is innate biology in us that makes us “care” to a certain degree about children, be they ours or anyone else’s. To see a large part of society NOT react to help a child in distress would tell me they have been “trained” not to. It’s antithetical to the natural condition (which would be to help).


    I agree that our society is extremely FUBAR when it comes to children (mainly the incredibly ludicrous amount of fear we instill in them constantly). However, I would put the blame for that mainly on the scared mommy brigade and the pandering politicians that exploit their media induced fears.


    My bottom line though is, while I would help anyone’s child to find immediate relief in a crisis, they are not my children and I feel no more beholden to “protect” or “shield” them then that. I am not willing to give up ANY of my freedoms, liberties or even modest enjoyments, to make anyone else’s children ANY safer (even if I thought it would do so, which I don’t in this case). Parents need to understand that their children are precious to them, they are NOT precious to everyone else. Parents can’t simply pass off the responsibility of protecting their children to the general public, we just don’t care as much about them.

     

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  30.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Jul 31st, 2008 @ 12:07pm

    Re: Europe doesn't deserve YouTube...

    Wow, first comment, first woefully stupid and misinformed comment...

    Tell me, PRMan, what do you know about British culture and law? What is it that enables you to distinguish the "fact" that the UK is somehow unable to handle new media while such progressive figures in your own culture such as Jack Thompson "get it".

    Oh, that's right, they don't. This is a story about a few dumbass politicians jumping on a "think of the children" bandwagon, in the same way that Thompson and other anti-videogame/internet lawyers and politicians in the US do. If this were ever to become law (unlikely) and effectively upheld (extremely unlikely), then maybe you'd have a point. Otherwise, keep you outdated xenophobia somewhere else...

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Abdul, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 12:47pm

    Re: We should vet the politicians

    We are doing that almost every election period. Why are people so cynical about the proposal? When elected officials are not doing a thing, we are quick to lambast them for their insensitivities. Now that they are addressing a potential dangerous pattern developing on youtube, we are damning them. Is this not hypocricy at the highest?Top 10 Ways YouTube Has Ruined Life for Good(http://www.internetevolution.com/document.asp?doc_id=155235&F_src=flftwo)

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    flesh99, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 1:08pm

    Re: there's precedent

    There is no precedent as your analogy is incorrect.

    Sure the store that sells Playboy keeps it behind the counter but once daddy brings it home it is his responsibility to keep his hormone driven thirteen year old from finding it. Parents subscribe to an unfiltered internet and as such they have brought it into their house and it is their responsibility to keep their children away from content that they do not like. Decency on the part of Google/YouTube doesn't play into the equation at all in this case. In fact if they begin to proactively filter content they could lose all sorts of legal protection so it is in their best interest to not do so.

    It is likewise not the government's responsibility to make sure that Google/YouTube doesn't present "bad" content to my children. That responsibility rests solely with me and my wife. I do not want them to legislate where I can hide my Playboys just like I do not them to legislate what YouTube has to filter.

    I don't get it and I do have kids. I have seven of them to be exact and on most issues I may well be one of the most conservative posters on this site. I have ages from 10 years old to literally only 10 days old and I will be damned if I support the government jumping into the business of regulating content on the internet. I will regulate what my children see and if I, or any other parent can't be bothered to do so, then they shouldn't have kids. It's not the government's responsibility and I hope it never is.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Your Gawd and Master, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 1:33pm

    Re: Re: Europe doesn't deserve YouTube...

    I'd like to remind you that we're talking about a law there in the U.K. and you're talking about a single person here in the U.S. I don't know if you see the difference but there's a huge one concerning Jack Thompson's idiocy and the idiocy passed by the UK, Belgium, France, etc. as actual LAW; that takes a lot of people, not just a couple. Sure, we have Cuomo trying to get rid of Usenet or the like but he's got limited scope in the grand scheme of things however these laws being passed in Europe are not so limited.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    udamdirtyape, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Dont cover the world in bubble wrap!

    You hit the nail on the head. Precisely what is going on.

    I have more than once seen a child crying or upset with no parents around and waited for a police officer to assist because I know that in today's climate of fear people simply dont trust each other and they see predators everywhere.

    Media is largely to blame, and I think it is intentional...

    Rather than reporting on real issues of concern for thinking people they distract the public with worthless sensational B.S.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Quick fingers, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 1:45pm

    Re: The Vast Universe we call the Internet

    That Lewis Black voice would also point out that with fewer keystrokes than "y-o-u-t-u-b-e" it's easy to find all of the tawdry sex and horrifying violence one wants. I won't tell those tidy short urls because I'm embarrassed I even know them.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Jake, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 12:39am

    On The Other Hand...

    Unusually for me, I have to defend the politicians on this one. YouTube relies almost entirely on peer-review to enforce its terms of service, but is it really likely that someone is going to report this stuff if they've specifically searched for it? And when it was pointed out to them that a video of three lads setting on a passer-by and beating him nearly to death -apparently with the specific intent of putting it on YouTube- had accrued over seventeen thousand views before anyone complained, their response amounted to, "Not our problem." Regardless of the exact letter of the law, that struck me as being a bit off. I also find it hard to believe that setting up a bot to search for certain keywords and delivering the results to a couple of dozen interns and passing any evidence of criminal activity they turn up on to the appropriate authorities would put much of a dent in their profit margin.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Enrico Suarve, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 4:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Europe doesn't deserve YouTube...

    Are you thick or just ignorant?

    The article even states examples of US politicians abusing the law and then goes on to state that a few politicians in the UK are PROPOSING a change to UK law (which stand naff all chance of being passed if we are all honest)

    Remind me again how a UK politician suggesting changes to the law is worse than US ones actually abusing it? Or is this just "ra ra" flag waving bollocks?

    Personally I think the politicians cited are idiots and as usual going for the lowest common denominator vote but fortunately this sort of idiocy stands little chance of being approved (unlike the much more cancerous anti-liberty crap going through at the moment which we seem to be catching like a bad case of the trots from the good ole US of A)

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    NotOnly, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 8:09am

    Its not only the techies

    "I guess it's only in the techie community that we recognize that the phrase "to protect the children" is almost always followed by a plan that does the opposite. "

    Ask a gay or lesbian techie about past "protect the children" projects. Most of these protection schemes are just witch hunts. Why take up all your time watching and guiding your own kids? Its so much more convenient when you can staple the blame to some innocent person, then walk away feeling good about yourself for doing something to "protect the children".

    Protecting the children from useless parenting would go a lot farther. And if you insist that gays and lesbians always conform to stereotypes, then here's one for you: Get the beercans out of Bubba and Luraleen's hands, and force them to spend more time watching their kids than trying to make new ones.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    دردشه, Jul 8th, 2009 @ 6:52am

    That Lewis Black voice would also point out that with fewer keystrokes than

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    aidanart, Feb 1st, 2013 @ 10:12am

    24 hour vet

    YouTube must do more to screen its content before publication, and protect people from the internet's "dark side", according to MPs.

    Parliament's Culture, Media and Sport Committee claims sites, such as YouTube, which publish material from the public need to start vetting content far more closely.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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