Senate Proposes Giving The FCC Authority To Regulate Internet Content... For The Children

from the but,-of-course dept

Long ago politicians figured out that the way to get controversial or overly broad legislation through Congress was to simply say it's to protect the children. No politician wants to see a commercial from opponents in their next election about how he or she voted against protecting the children. However, it's for that reason that you should look extra carefully at such legislation, as it very rarely actually does much to protect any children, and quite often sneaks in things that are quite dangerous (not just to children). The Senate Commerce Committee has passed a bill, for the children of course, that would push the FCC to investigate next generation "v-chip" technology to allow parents to block their kids from seeing certain content. Now, it's a noble idea -- but in practice... it can be quite troublesome. As Sean Garrett highlights, the law actually is a backdoor way to allow the FCC to regulate online content. Right now, the FCC can only regulate content broadcast over the airwaves, though there have been some efforts underway to give them regulatory say over other content as well. However, doing that directly would be controversial, so this bill lets them sneak the FCC's regulatory authority into the internet tent, for the sake of the children, of course. One section would require the FCC to look into new content controls for all "wired, wireless, and Internet platforms." In other words, it would open the door to the FCC having some regulatory power over all forms of content. That's well beyond the FCC's charter and should be seen as quite problematic, especially since there's a huge difference between broadcast content and communications. Unfortunately, this legislation seems to think that communications networks are no different than broadcast systems.

Filed Under: fcc, for the children, legislation, senate

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  1. identicon
    Overcast, 3 Aug 2007 @ 3:23pm

    What will .xxx accomplish? Who will decide what is .xxx and what is not? What about the companies that already own .com URLs? Must they now give those up for .xxx?

    Would it matter? They could have first choice at - not losing anything, actually it seems they would be gaining, it would open up domain names already taken as .COM now too as well. I mean - so what if you have to give up for Hotbabes.XXX - did you really loose anything? People act like domain names are some kind of gold they've found, when they are simple entries in a DNS database.

    Heck, even with just the simple availability of a whole new set of domains, the market would eventually move over to them. I would much rather see industry step up and take an initiative than for government to dictate more to us all.

    After all, the dictate now who can and cannot be .EDU, .MIL, .GOV - if there are going to be 'regulations' at least give this industry a sensible 'red light' district for it. Why not - it's regulated on Cable, in Stores, and the like as it is now! Don't see why the same standards couldn't just be applied. And rather than try to restrict various top level domain suffixes - just offer incentive to move there - like perhaps age verification services based on .XXX domain access. You could simply have users opt in or opt out at the ISP level and do away with MUCH liability.

    I fail to see any problem with just making more available.

    You would get new search engines tailored to the .XXX domain, more space for sites... everything. It's like just adding another wing to the mall with specialty stores.

    I'm not opposed to porn on the web at all, and more organization wouldn't hurt.

    It certainly beats more censorship.

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