Skip to comments.House vote on illegal images sweeps in Wi-Fi, Web sites
Posted on 12/06/2007 2:39:08 PM PST by LibWhacker
The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill saying that anyone offering an open Wi-Fi connection to the public must report illegal images including "obscene" cartoons and drawings--or face fines of up to $300,000.
That broad definition would cover individuals, coffee shops, libraries, hotels, and even some government agencies that provide Wi-Fi. It also sweeps in social-networking sites, domain name registrars, Internet service providers, and e-mail service providers such as Hotmail and Gmail, and it may require that the complete contents of the user's account be retained for subsequent police inspection.
Before the House vote, which was a lopsided 409 to 2, Rep. Nick Lampson (D-Texas) held a press conference on Capitol Hill with John Walsh, the host of America's Most Wanted and Ernie Allen, head of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Allen said the legislation--called the Securing Adolescents From Exploitation-Online Act, or SAFE Act--will "ensure better reporting, investigation, and prosecution of those who use the Internet to distribute images of illegal child pornography."
The SAFE Act represents the latest in Congress' efforts--some of which have raised free speech and privacy concerns--to crack down on sex offenders and Internet predators. One bill introduced a year ago was even broader and would have forced Web sites and blogs to report illegal images. Another would require sex offenders to supply e-mail addresses and instant messaging user names.
Wednesday's vote caught Internet companies by surprise: the Democratic leadership rushed the SAFE Act to the floor under a procedure that's supposed to be reserved for noncontroversial legislation. It was introduced October 10, but has never received even one hearing or committee vote. In addition, the legislation approved this week has changed substantially since the earlier version and was not available for public review.
Not one Democrat opposed the SAFE Act. Two Republicans did: Rep. Ron Paul, the libertarian-leaning presidential candidate from Texas, and Rep. Paul Broun from Georgia.
This is what the SAFE Act requires: Anyone providing an "electronic communication service" or "remote computing service" to the public who learns about the transmission or storage of information about certain illegal activities or an illegal image must (a) register their name, mailing address, phone number, and fax number with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's "CyberTipline" and (b) "make a report" to the CyberTipline that (c) must include any information about the person or Internet address behind the suspect activity and (d) the illegal images themselves. (By the way, "electronic communications service" and "remote computing service" providers already have some reporting requirements under existing law too.)
The definition of which images qualify as illegal is expansive. It includes obvious child pornography, meaning photographs and videos of children being molested. But it also includes photographs of fully clothed minors in overly "lascivious" poses, and certain obscene visual depictions including a "drawing, cartoon, sculpture, or painting." (Yes, that covers the subset of anime called hentai).
Someone providing a Wi-Fi connection probably won't have to worry about the SAFE Act's additional requirement of retaining all the suspect's personal files if the illegal images are "commingled or interspersed" with other data. But that retention requirement does concern Internet service providers, which would be in a position to comply. So would e-mail service providers, including both Web-based ones and companies that offer POP or IMAP services.
"USISPA has long supported harmonized reporting of child pornography incidents to the (NCMEC). ISPs report over 30,000 incidents a year, and we work closely with NCMEC and law enforcement on the investigation," Kate Dean, head of the U.S. Internet Service Provider Association, said on Wednesday. "We remain concerned, however, that industry would be required to retain images of child pornography after reporting them to NCMEC. It seems like the better approach would be to require the private sector to turn over illicit images and not retain copies."
Failure to comply with the SAFE Act would result in an initial fine of up to $150,000, and fines of up to $300,000 for subsequent offenses. That's the stick. There's a carrot as well: anyone who does comply is immune from civil lawsuits and criminal prosecutions.
There are two more points worth noting. First, the vote on the SAFE Act seems unusually rushed. It's not entirely clear that the House Democratic leadership really meant this legislation to slap new restrictions on hundreds of thousands of Americans and small businesses who offer public wireless connections. But they'll nevertheless have to abide by the new rules if senators go along with this idea (and it's been a popular one in the Senate).
The second point is that Internet providers already are required by another federal law to report child pornography sightings to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which is in turn charged with forwarding that report to the appropriate police agency. So there's hardly an emergency, which makes the Democrats' rush for a vote more inexplicable than usual.
LOL! I don’t think this applies to folks having their bandwidth stolen.
Congress has once again conclusively demonstrated how out of touch it is with reality. Emigration has to be seriously considered.
Kudos to Ron Paul for paying attention. This one is even dumber than Sarbanes-Oxley and the Internet gambling ban.
Exploitation of children is wrong, but this law is unenforceable except by shutting down all public (or even semi-private) networks.
>>Make sure your wireless home networks are properly configured — or go to jail!<<
I do that.
But this sounds like it might kill open Wifi.
A weird vote from a weird Congress. Keep your hands off my internet content Pelosi.
This is not about “saving teens”, imo, this is about regulating net communications content.
“There are two more points worth noting. First, the vote on the SAFE Act seems unusually rushed. It’s not entirely clear that the House Democratic leadership really meant this legislation to slap new restrictions on hundreds of thousands of Americans and small businesses who offer public wireless connections. But they’ll nevertheless have to abide by the new rules if senators go along with this idea (and it’s been a popular one in the Senate).
The second point is that Internet providers already are required by another federal law to report child pornography sightings to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which is in turn charged with forwarding that report to the appropriate police agency. So there’s hardly an emergency, which makes the Democrats’ rush for a vote more inexplicable than usual.”
This is pure BS !..a Last desperate act by a useless good for nothing dimRAT congress to pass anything so they can say they had a successful year...No one read this bill, it was never read in Commission even !..then suddenly it is on the HOuse floor and passes overwhelmingly. Talk about taking away people’s freedoms..Yes it clamps down on the worst porn but it also takes a huge bite out of personal freedom and is a set up by the dimRATS to probe even more into people’s personal lives...They will say that if you oppose this you are one of ‘those’ !...Sorry, not one of those and will not be duped....
I don’t see how this would pass the first court test.
It would require the wi-fi providers to become policemen and scrutinize every bit that passes through the wi-fi connection.
Or shut down, or go to a paid subscription so that every user is logged, known, regulated, watched, with an indemnification contract.
I think the bill also broadens the definition of illegal image past child porn (from reading the article, I have not read the bill).
H. R. 3791, go to http://thomas.loc.gov and get a copy.
You couldn’t. I can drive down the street of almost any neighborhood in America and find (inadvertently) open networks on every block. This bill is just going to sweep up a lot of innocent people into Big Brother’s maw.
If I were a legit business offering my customers open wifi, I’d shut it down before hiring people to examine every downloaded image. The only alternative would be to charge your customers, make them open accounts, and store their every mouse click in perpetuity.
That makes no difference. If you are a registered Democrat there is no need for any concern whatsover; Her Highness will not go after you.
OTOH, if you have ANY conservative connections or if you've EVER posted on FR, you'll be prosecuted to the FULLEST extent of the LAW!
Or painting? Yikes. Here on FR in a thread discussing the new Christmas stamp someone posted Leonardo di Vinci's painting of Madonna and Child with a Carnation instead of Luini's The Madonna of the Carnation (which was used on this year's stamp). Leonardo's painting had Jesus naked. Yep, right here on FR "Divine Child Porn".
Imagine the ISP or local Wi-Fi provider of every single Freeper viewing that thread having to examine that painting and determine "Child porn or legitimate artwork".
Damn Rats are undermining American freedom one step at a time.
And they don't want wire tapping "my a$$"..
"In Sable...we remarked that the speech restriction at issue there amounted to " 'burn[ing] the house to roast the pig.' " The CDA, casting a far darker shadow over free speech, threatens to torch a large segment of the Internet community."
"The record demonstrates that the growth of the Internet has been and continues to be phenomenal. As a matter of constitutional tradition, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, we presume that governmental regulation of the content of speech is more likely to interfere with the free exchange of ideas than to encourage it. The interest in encouraging freedom of expression in a democratic society outweighs any theoretical but unproven benefit of censorship."
Yep, it’s totally unenforceable, as you said. But the idiots will probably keep trying though until they get something workable, but no doubt equally objectionable.
Imagine the cities like S.Francisco who are working to cover the entire city area under an open wi-fi connection. How in the world will they monitor an entire city’s internet connections?
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