UK Politicians Demand YouTube Vet Content To 'Protect The Children'

from the the-end-of-safe-harbors dept

Various safe harbors for service providers that protect them from the actions of their users make a lot of common sense. It's simply wrong to blame a service provider for the actions of its users. We don't blame the telephone company when someone commits a crime using the phone. And we don't blame the car company for providing the getaway car. Nor do we ask those companies to do anything to block those actions. That's because we all realize how silly that is -- to blame a tool provider for the actions of its users. Yet, for some reason, when we move online, that concept gets confused. While most of the focus has been on safe harbors concerning copyright or defamation, when you toss in a bit of "but think of the children!" it gets even more ridiculous.

We've already seen this with US politicians bullying ISPs into blocking "objectionable" content, even though they have no legal basis for this (and, in fact, such blocking will only make it more difficult to track down those actually responsible). And, now we see it in the UK. UK MPs are claiming that Google needs to vet all of the content uploaded to YouTube "to protect children from harmful content." Seriously.

I guess it's only in the techie community that we recognize that the phrase "to protect the children" is almost always followed by a plan that does the opposite.

The politicians seem concerned that occasionally, questionable content is found on YouTube, and it might take them (gasp!) 24 hours to take it down. Apparently it has not occurred to those behind this demand that perhaps they should be focused on using the content being uploaded to track down those actually responsible for the objectionable (illegal?) content, rather than demanding that Google proactively hide the evidence. Next up, we'll be expecting the report where politicians demand that telephone companies "proactively" review all telephone calls to make sure there is no objectionable content "to protect children."

Filed Under: politicians, protect the children, uk, vet content, videos
Companies: google


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  1. identicon
    EO, 31 Jul 2008 @ 10:58am

    there's precedent

    Kiddies: we have laws all over the place to protect children Pick up a law text book, I'm not making this up. The precedent here is quite clear: those who serve as outlets for "adult material" (which is latest euphemism for really raunchy or violent stuff) are held responsible for keeping it out of the reach of children even as they are given license for distributing to adults. Have you visited a convenience store lately? Notice that the "adult" magazines are kept behind the counter. The same thinking applies here: the people who are clever enough to put up a service like YouTube should be clever enough to figure out a way to filter the questionable material from a segment of their users/viewers. And if they can't figure it out, then decency (eeek! and old-fashioned word!) demands that they screen it completely.
    You'll get it once you have kids of your own. Until then, trust an old-fogie on this one.

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