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
    Joe, 3 Aug 2007 @ 7:57pm

    Parents need to do their job. Leave my tax $ out o

    This is a bogus power grab by government again. I am all for protecting the children, so each parent needs to do their job and quit expecting the government to babysit for them. Be a parent and supervise them. Keep the computer in a common room not in the bedroom.
    I already have protection here. All traffic must go through my caching proxy to hit the net. There is a whitelist of approved sites for the kids. They can not go anywhere else. Real simple really, and very low cost. Old 450mhz used hardware running Linux. Wow what a concept of using old hardware to keep it out of the landfill!
    Running filtering on the machine to filter is a brain dead idea. Too easy to hack around it.

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