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.

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  1. identicon
    brwyatt, 3 Aug 2007 @ 4:49pm

    Do your homework!

    Net Nanny, Watchdog, CyberSeive, iProtectYou, as well as THOUSANDS of others. Heck, many OSs are beginning to have this ability built in! Vista, OSX, Linux all have some form in them (although I know Vista's is limited, and I haven't looked into OSX's much and I'm assuming that Linux would have something).

    Sooo.... tell me again how this would make any changes other than probably making it too easy to tap someone's Internet, help the RIAA screw more people, or become like China or North Korea?

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