Why Lawyers Should Learn How The Internet Works

from the let's-try-this-again dept

Over in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the local district attorney is involved in a lawsuit with two local ISPs. It seems that the district attorney’s office was conducting an investigation into child porn, and discovered that these ISPs let subscribers access some Usenet groups that had child porn. So, because no one took the time to figure out how the internet works, they immediately blamed the ISPs and confiscated their computers. The ISPs have filed a lawsuit pointing out (correctly) that they’re just the service provider. We’ve seen similar cases for years, where lawyers who simply don’t understand how the internet works blame the ISP rather than those actually responsible. Of course, since this case has “child porn” associated with it, the DA seems to be ignoring the absolutely correct explanations for why the ISPs aren’t at fault, and is turning it into a political issue, saying the ISPs should be responsible for searching out and stopping any child porn on their servers. The article makes it sound like the ISPs must have known due to the names of the Usenet groups, but leaves out the sheer number of Usenet groups available, and the fact that these ISPs have nothing specifically to do with Usenet or the content found on Usenet, other than offering access to it for their customers. The article also offers an amusing explanation for what Usenet is complete with lots of “quotation” marks suggesting that this “Usenet” thing is a big “scam”: “a subscriber-based electronic “newsreader,” which allows Internet users to view millions of Internet “articles,” defined as messages, photographs, movies or music.”

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Comments on “Why Lawyers Should Learn How The Internet Works”

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Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

Not just the kiddy groups

I use a couple of newsgroup binary downloaders and I do not go anywhere near the kiddy groups, but I still have to sort through the downloads pretty quickly and delete between 2-4% of the images because the kiddy site people are posting their pictures to LOTS of newsgroups.

My big fear is that some day I’ll forget to delete files immediately after downloading and have to take my PC in for service some place and get busted for pictures that I didn’t intentionally download and did not want in the first place.

thecaptain says:

Re: Not just the kiddy groups

Its insane some of the stuff that gets posted even in the most innocuous of groups.

I used to use an automated binary downloader for game mods and such and sometimes for mp3s and ebooks…but going back to check a few days later I’d have to really clean out the drive. Its disgusting some of the stuff that gets posted every which way…

I’m not against a bit of porn, between,for and featuring consenting adults…its all good. But it seems that the people who post the stuff that gets you into trouble are REALLY aggressive about getting it onto as many hard drives as possible.

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