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
    flesh99, 31 Jul 2008 @ 1:08pm

    Re: there's precedent

    There is no precedent as your analogy is incorrect.

    Sure the store that sells Playboy keeps it behind the counter but once daddy brings it home it is his responsibility to keep his hormone driven thirteen year old from finding it. Parents subscribe to an unfiltered internet and as such they have brought it into their house and it is their responsibility to keep their children away from content that they do not like. Decency on the part of Google/YouTube doesn't play into the equation at all in this case. In fact if they begin to proactively filter content they could lose all sorts of legal protection so it is in their best interest to not do so.

    It is likewise not the government's responsibility to make sure that Google/YouTube doesn't present "bad" content to my children. That responsibility rests solely with me and my wife. I do not want them to legislate where I can hide my Playboys just like I do not them to legislate what YouTube has to filter.

    I don't get it and I do have kids. I have seven of them to be exact and on most issues I may well be one of the most conservative posters on this site. I have ages from 10 years old to literally only 10 days old and I will be damned if I support the government jumping into the business of regulating content on the internet. I will regulate what my children see and if I, or any other parent can't be bothered to do so, then they shouldn't have kids. It's not the government's responsibility and I hope it never is.

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