Government Study Determines That There's Porn Online
from the thanks-for-clearing-that-up dept
Remember how the government basically subpoenaed everyone they could possibly think of to get data to support their argument defending the constitutionality of the COPA (Child Online Protection Act)? Apparently, they used all of that data to crunch some numbers and tell the court that (would you believe it?) there's actually some pornography online. Aren't you glad that plenty of taxpayer money went into figuring that out? Despite what both sides in the case are trying to say about the results, it's not clear that it really says much at all. They found that 6% of queries lead to results that have adult material (and only 1% if filters are turned on) -- but it's not clear what that really means. A query returns tons of results. Is it counted if only one leads to sexually explicit material? If all of them? A certain threshold? The first link? Also, how do they define adult material? While it may be obvious in some cases, in plenty of others it's very much a subjective decision. Finally, the 6% number is still misleading, because most of those searches are probably by adults who are looking for completely legal adult material. If the case is about protecting children, shouldn't the real question be how often adult content is returned when kids do searches? So, in the end, we have the government demanding (and getting) a bunch of data from all sorts of internet and search companies, and then conducting a survey with taxpayer money, to tell us that there's a fair amount of porn online (though not overwhelmingly so) -- but little else of practical use to the actual question at hand, about whether or not the law is constitutional.