by Mike Masnick
Fri, Dec 7th 2007 11:57am
Yesterday we posted on the no-discussion-necessary rapid approval of the SAFE Act, and highlighted some of the more questionable problems in the bill. While the post was pretty clear about why we (and others) believed it covered WiFi (the broadly worded language in the bill, which we had in the post), we've been getting some emails from folks who say that we twisted the legislation out of context. It probably doesn't help that whoever submitted our post to Digg (and got it Dugg onto the front page) did so in a misleading way, making it sound like our post said something it did not. However, with so much interest in this bill, it's worth digging a little deeper. The bill's author quickly responded to the charges by saying that it wasn't intended to cover open WiFi networks, but the bill itself doesn't make that clear -- and the courts tend to go by the text of the law, rather than intent (intent can be helpful, but it's much less important). The author of the original article has a clarifying conversation with the author of the bill, asking him if he'll change the text to make it clear that open WiFi is not covered -- and he gets no promises. Instead, in typical "protect the children" fashion, the guy just goes on about what an awful problem this is. The thing is, no one is denying that child pornography is a terrible thing. What we're worried about is incredibly broadly worded bills that were clearly written and approved in a hurry with little oversight, and which do not appear to take into account the unintended consequences of what they're putting into law.
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