Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Now Congress Is Going After File Sharing Networks For Porn

from the hmm.--sense-a-pattern? dept

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

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  • identicon
    dorpus, 28 Jul 2005 @ 9:52pm

    What about pro-government porn?

    This anime painting says that "taxation makes our lives brighter". What if the government acted more like a business, and put out sexy advertisements too?

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

  • identicon
    Anon, 29 Jul 2005 @ 12:53am


    Stevens saying: "People tell me we can't do anything about it. I don't believe that."

    Was Stevens referring to CAN-SPAM or P2P? Does it matter? ;)

    Here's a quick lesson in the Internet, distinguished congress(wo)men. Telling the ENTIRE Internet what you will do about its activity, um, uh... bad move. First of all, it's a global community, and people outside the US don't care what you think about porn. Second, people outside the US don't care what you think about anything. Third, most of those in the US agree with them.

    You come across like trolls, and unlike how you bully witnesses around, your views are farts in the wind online. Your bills are about the same. You could revoke the entire Constitution, and it wouldn't mean a damn thing to a Russian hosted torrent tracker.

    Get a clue, and learn about how to even speak to the medium even before trying to legislate it. Barking orders will only generate backlash... severe backlash.

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

    • identicon
      z0idberg, 29 Jul 2005 @ 2:14am

      Re: Stevens

      backlash? maybe.

      fits of laughter and ridicule? definately.

      They really are clueless. The sad thing is politicians make uninformed comments and policy decisions based on their uninformed points of view the world over. They just get more press in the states.

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

  • identicon
    cuebei, 29 Jul 2005 @ 6:19am

    porn: for the people, by the people

    what these senators don't understand is the people are the ones who want it, otherwise it wouldn't be on file sharing services. Isn't this country suppost to be a country for the people, by the people. If the people want porn (which they obviously do), then why would a any politition try to take that away?

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

  • identicon
    Apaxmez, 24 Mar 2006 @ 9:10am

    I'm really worried about this...

    What if congresspeople are this stupid about everything they decide?
    I think i'm gonna move to Tahiti... nice weather, and too small a country to try to mess with the internet.

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

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