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Censorship

Senate Bill to Subsidize Anti-Censorware Research 182

Posted by jamie
from the rider-to-support-the-perverted-arts dept.
Senators Wyden (D-Ore.) and Kyl (R-Ariz.) introduced the Global Internet Freedom Act earlier this month, setting aside $60 million over two years "to develop and deploy technologies to defeat Internet jamming and censorship." Of course they don't mean libraries and schools in this country -- they're talking about countries like China, as Kyl et al. explain in a National Review article a few days ago. I guess it wasn't confusing enough to (1) subsidize censorware and (2) criminalize researching it -- we also need to (3) subsidize researching it. How about forbidding American corporations from trading censorware goods or services to these "repressive governments," wouldn't that be a good start? Update: 10/30 03:37 GMT by J : Here's the Wired story from early this month on the version that was introduced in the House.

(Sen. Wyden also teamed up last month with Sen. Cox (R-Calif.) on a little bitty resolution standing up for your fair use rights before the tank parade of the DMCA.)

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Senate Bill to Subsidize Anti-Censorware Research

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  • Real Money . . . (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JJ (29711)
    This is just a few congressmen trying to CYA. Sixty million sounds like a lot of money to you and me, but to a government employee, its just a drop in the bucket.
  • The contradiction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rknop (240417) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:49AM (#4555147) Homepage

    The contradiction comes from the fact that our government-- especially Congress-- is not a single-headed entity, but a multi-headed entitiy pulling in lots of different directions. As a result, lots of contradictory noises will get made.

    Indeed, the more often it acts like a single-headed entity pulling in one direction, the scarier it is. We come in danger of "groupthink", and worrying things like expression divergent opinions become labelled as "unpatriotic", and scary laws like the DMCA (which passed without dissent) or parts of the US PATRIOT act (I'm thinking the library stuff here) getting passed.

    -Rob

    • by garcia (6573) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:52AM (#4555174)
      the contradiction is: when the poster said, "How about forbidding American corporations from trading censorware goods or services to these "repressive governments," wouldn't that be a good start?"
    • by Hard_Code (49548) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:54AM (#4555185)
      Unfortunately the same fear and cynicism of politicians actually having concrete goals and real positions (for better or for worse) drives...well, group-Un-think - lots of noise is generated over trivialities and blatent ploys for superficial popularity. I would really hope that meaningful change and change for the better are not mutually exclusive sets. I would gladly trade two robotic teleprompter politicians for two passionate yet diametrically opposed ones.
      • Re:The contradiction (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Ponty (15710) <awc2.buyclamsonline@com> on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @10:15AM (#4555790) Homepage
        Actually Sen. Wyden seems to have a good handle on practicality WRT the Internet. He co-sponsored the CANSPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) bill, the Online Privacy Protection Act which would limit the way web sites and online services collect and disseminate personal information about individuals without their consent, and an encryption bill that allowed the export of 64- and 128-bit software.

        I'm not going to comment on Sen. Kyl.
      • I would really hope that meaningful change and change for the better are not mutually exclusive sets.

        Maybe I'm cynical, but I saw a bumper sticker once that summarizes my view quite well: "Keep America Strong: Vote for Gridlock." The less they do, the better, as far as I'm concerned.

    • by Bingo Foo (179380) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @09:23AM (#4555351)
      There is no contradiction, and the source of the dual policy is not the multi-headedness of government.

      If one understands the concepts of public and private, familial and foreign, sacred and profane; if one acknowledges that these concepts exist concurrently in the world; and if one actually recognizes freedom and repression when presented with them, then one must exercise some subtlety in policy making.

      You are right that "groupthink" can be dangerous in extremes, but agreement about where to go on the majority of issues is what drives civilized society. Labeling popular agreement as "groupthink" in order to dismiss it is intellectuially lazy. It is also intellectual laziness to hold the kind of absolutist positions on "privacy," "censorship," "intellectual property," and "Microsoft" that we all see daily on Slashdot. Your judgment is just tying the ship's wheel to the gunwales and going belowdecks for a nap.

    • by Montreal Geek (620791) <marc@ube[ ]x.org ['rbo' in gap]> on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @09:30AM (#4555383) Homepage Journal
      I don't see any contradiction.

      The fact that a governement wants to encourage restricting avaliable information to the subset it approves (via censorship) is not incompatible to wanting to defeat the same mechanism in place in other places to coerce that subset to be the same as theirs.

      Of course, the US governement would want to make sure that no other country can do the same. This way, the insignificant other 95% of the human race can bask in the greatness that is the (properly sanitized) Internet as defined by them.

      This is all self consistent. (And scary).

      --MH

    • the "contradiction" is a necessary feature of our system of government. that was EXACTLY how the system was designed. it was also designed for the express purpose of accomplishing large things quickly, so that in case of perceived emergencies, the legislature could act as fast as necessary.

      the "contradiction" is actually not as big as some here would like to make it. the key point with library and school "censorship" is that those organizations are educational (or quasi-educational) institutions, and therefore the requirements of free speech do not apply. the government is not making internet-based pornography and hate speech illegal. they're just saying that viewers of it cannot view it on tax dollars.

      again, NO ONE is stopping people from viewing what they want (save for child pornography) at home. it's a question of what constitutes acceptable use of public funds. just as you can be fired for surfing porn at a government job (even off the clock), you are not allowed to surf government-funded computers for porn.

      no big deal. some room for debate, but it's not nearly the colossal hypocrisy that some seem to think.

      jon
    • And just like the hydra, whenever you cut off one head, two more instantly replace it! :/

  • finally (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by tps12 (105590)
    It's about time that the government steps in to protect us from the corporations and right-wing Christians who'd like to own our souls and shield us from all the "evil" pornography (fourth ring of hell reserved for Slashdotters?). I am a hard-core capitalist, but even I can recognize a market failure when I see one. Just as overfishing once lead to mass unemployment and starvation in the Northeast US, the greed of a few supercorporations (the likes of which were never conceived of by the founders of our nation) and the fiery rhetoric of a few rabid Christians have turned us into slaves of exploitative technology. And people are too stupid to provide a good market for anti-censorware products, so we're screwed. This research should set things right again.
    • by Adam Rightmann (609216) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @09:00AM (#4555220)
      what does that say about one's state of grace? As a Catholic, I recognize the sinfulness of pornography (in most cases), yet, when I refuse to succumb to the lure of such lurid depictions, I triump over sin. I would not have that opportunity if my interent connection was filtered, and I would eventually have a weakened moral system.

      The Vatican has one of the world's great collections of erotica (for research purposes), and you would be very hard pressed to find a more moral, less sinful group of men in the world.

      • Somebody please mod this up as funny. I almost split a gut over this one. More moral, oh god, oh god, there goes my gut. Bugger all, how can a group of men that deny their natural desires for sexual release be less sinful and more moral then me. The more you attempt to repress a normal desire the more it controls you.
      • Oh, the vatican has a great collection of erotica eh? That must be why only the priests in America are raping little boys. The ones in Italy get to jerk off to porn instead!
      • what does that say about one's state of grace? As a Catholic, I recognize the sinfulness of pornography (in most cases), yet, when I refuse to succumb to the lure of such lurid depictions, I triump over sin.

        I hear you brother. I am tempted daily by women, booze and drugs, but I too have triumped over sin, a reward much greater than the inebriation such things provide. I will not succumb to the devil - I shall triump over his sinful distractions.

        ... I hope that wasn't in bad taste.

      • Urban Legend (Score:4, Informative)

        by wunderhorn1 (114559) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @10:08AM (#4555743) Homepage
        As a Catholic, you should know better. [snopes.com]

        Troll.

    • Re:finally (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Christianfreak (100697) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @09:35AM (#4555417) Homepage Journal
      This is a troll but I'll bite.

      I am a Christian. I believe that porn is morally wrong (For reasons other than "God said so" but that's a discussion for another day.). I also believe it is wrong to censor porn because some people don't have problems with it. I would love porn to go away but that would require a change in people that view it and I understand that you can't legislate morality people have to be moral on their own.

      Just like we can't bring morality by legislating a technology that can censor, we really shouldn't be legislating against that technology either. We have free speech in the U.S. and nothing should be allowed to come between us and that freedom. But people have the freedom to choose to censor things. I don't want to see porn so I don't go to porn sites. I don't need a technology to censor that because I can choose on my own and I've used the Internet long enough to make sure I don't accidentally do that. What about a child? If we ban censoring technology can parents still get software that that helps keep them from coming across porn? We do need better parents but buying such software should be a parent's choice and it shouldn't be legislated one way or the other.

      That said I'm now going to say its not "right-wing Christians" that are producing or mandating censorware. The people who are doing that corporations which after they develop a technology they come on TV screaming "protect the children" which insites some people, including some Christians to demand it. If censorware is legislated then certain companies make lots of money. So it all comes down to money.

      And finally I'm not rabid I've had all my shots.
      • Oh please (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I am a christian and I enjoy porn.

        Underneath your clothes, you are naked. If you take your clothes off, are you displaying the fruits of evil or good? If god created man, and god's creations are perfect, then the human body is perfect.

        When people have sex, it is to procreate. God made it enjoyable. Therefore, having sex is perfect in god's eyes.

        Watching perfection (naked people having sex) must be okay because:

        1) The naked body is not a sin
        2) Sex is not a sin
        3) Therefore watching naked bodies have sex is not a sin.

        Don't you realize your view is a complete conundrum?

        Or do you have the sick view that God is "testing" you? If God knows everything, he doesn't need to test you.

        Earthly organizations try to control sex and human reproduction because it gives them power. Its not for God's power or glory, he already has that.

        Think. THINK. Don't just believe what some guy in the pulpit tells you what is right or wrong.
      • That said I'm now going to say its not "right-wing Christians" that are producing or mandating censorware. The people who are doing that corporations which after they develop a technology they come on TV screaming "protect the children" which insites some people, including some Christians to demand it. If censorware is legislated then certain companies make lots of money. So it all comes down to money.

        Oops. I now feel bad about using the phrase 'overfunded religious zealots' in another reply. You're absolutely correct, it's corporate not religious interests that are selling the technology.

        I am glad to see that there are people who are capable of both an open mind and respect freedom of speech and religious views, just because some folks aren't, doesn't mean I shouldn't choose my words more carefully ;). Sorry.
      • A well stated explanation of a defensible case.

        But why do we get so hung up in this way (i.e. censorship=stop looking at nude people doing rude things)? My personal disgust is with the levels of violence in the media, and it wouldn't worry me if the glorification of violence was banned. (It would, obviously, worry some other people but fortunately they don't live near me.) However, there is a big difference between stopping kids from watching violent films and stopping your citizens finding out that they live in a repressive police state/anarchy run by gangsters, and finding out what they could do about it. That is what Red China and North Korea practise, and it is a great evil not in any way to be compared with mom not letting her teens look at anal penetration on the internet. Anything that prevents dictators keeping people in ignorance must surely be good for all of us, in the long run.

      • Re:finally (Score:5, Insightful)

        by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @12:25PM (#4556889) Homepage Journal

        I understand that you can't legislate morality people have to be moral on their own.

        Stated more strongly: Enforced morality is of no value.

        We do need better parents but buying such software should be a parent's choice and it shouldn't be legislated one way or the other.

        I also think the knee-jerk /. reaction on this issue is incorrect: The application of censorware at home does not automatically imply lazy/bad parents. Even good parents (I think I'm one, I know my wife is one) can't keep an eye on their children every second of every day.

        Here's an anecdotal example that happened in my home on Saturday: My wife came out of our closet to see an explicit photograph of an anal sex act on the screen of her computer, with our five year-old son trying to figure out what it was (luckily it was an ad and words partially obscured things -- not the "key" parts but enough to make it difficult for my son to figure out what was what).

        She had been in the room just moments before, and what he was doing on the computer was completely innocuous. How did he get there so quickly?

        When she told me, I grabbed my laptop, ssh'd into my router/server, which is running a transparent squid proxy, checked the logs and reconstructed the events.

        What my five year-old had done was:

        • Mispell "disney.com", instead typing "dicney.com" which is a meta-search engine of some sort.
        • He was looking for games, so he clicked on "Games", part of a link entitled "Card Games" (he can't read yet, but there are words he recognizes).
        • He got back a page of search results and clicked one at random, which took him to an on-line casino.
        • Apparently it had either a banner ad or a popup for "sex.com", which he clicked, probably because it was flashy.

        I'm not sure if he clicked something else or if it was just a bunch of popups directly from sex.com (the log gets pretty busy), but a bunch of pretty raunchy stuff came up.

        Elapsed time from the GET of dicney.com to the flood of sexual material, according to the squid timestamps: 18 seconds. Anyone who thinks that it's possible to supervise your children every second of the day has never been a parent, and particularly not a parent of multiple children.

        Now, my older children know a little more about "things", but this one is not ready to deal with sex, and particularly not the raunch that came up. For that matter, the older ones aren't ready to deal with S&M and anal sex, but they've been taught at school that when such stuff starts to come up on the screen the correct response is to "crash" the computer -- meaning hit the power button (since popups spawn popups spawn popups and it's nearly impossible to close them all).

        I'm not quite ready to install censorware yet, but I can certainly see how it would be helpful. At the moment I've just switched the kids from IE to Mozilla and disabled popups. And when they're on the computer and I'm working where I can't see their screen I keep an eye on the squid logs.

        • meaning hit the power button (since popups spawn popups spawn popups and it's nearly impossible to close them all).

          *cough* *cough* Mozilla *cough* *cough*
        • I also think the knee-jerk /. reaction on this issue is incorrect: The application of censorware at home does not automatically imply lazy/bad parents. Even good parents (I think I'm one, I know my wife is one) can't keep an eye on their children every second of every day.

          My apologies, I was refering to parents who don't take the time even try watching what their kids view on the web and instead leave it up to software all the time. My point is that software is a tool, not an end all be-all to social problems :)
        • Re:finally (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Cryp2Nite (67224)
          What my five year-old had done was:
          • Mispell "disney.com", instead typing "dicney.com" which is a meta-search engine of some sort.
          • He was looking for games, so he clicked on "Games", part of a link entitled "Card Games" (he can't read yet, but there are words he recognizes).
          • He got back a page of search results and clicked one at random, which took him to an on-line casino.
          • Apparently it had either a banner ad or a popup for "sex.com", which he clicked, probably because it was flashy.


          Emphasis mine, kid can't read but can (mis)spell disney?

          Good story though
          • Emphasis mine, kid can't read but can (mis)spell disney?

            Yep. He knows his letters but hasn't shown any interest in learning to read (and he doesn't go to kindergarten until next year). However, he can recognize certain sequences of letters that are "of interest" to him, particularly those required to play games on the computer. He doesn't normally try to type them himself but instead gets one of us or his older brother or sister to help. I guess no one was handy so he decided to try it himself.

            It occurs to me now that there's a good chance that his older siblings had at one point typed "dicney.com" and that it was in the history list and came up before "disney.com" alphabetically. So he may only have typed "di" or even just "d" to get there.

    • Heh, well while this was for some reason modded as insightful (doubtless by moderators who misunderstood the article as well), there is no money earmarked for anti-censorship in the United States.

      The article is about CHINA's censoring of the Internet, and technology that circumvents that...

      Ummm.. anyway, I agree with your ideas, unfortunately, they are not coming to bear in the nation which extols its 'right to freedom speech'. Sad really. I think someone has to get some money behind constitutional matter quickly before these overfunded religious zealots destroy what freedoms we have left in this part of the World..
    • ... who also happens to be somewhat of a Libertarian!

      I'm not interested in enlisting the aid of the U.S. or any other Government in "protecting your soul" from pornography. I'm interested in protecting my soul and the souls of my children from it, as is my responsibility as a parent. I would also like to see the children of America's church youth groups protected from it.

      If you're an adult, and you want to look at the stuff on your time, with your resources and your money, FINE! I might have a debate with you as to why it's bad for your soul to look at it, and why it's bad for society in general, but I won't have the Government Morality Police with me when I do it.

      Having said that, I don't think it's anyone's right to demand tax-payer subsidies so he can exercise his perversion in full view of children at the tax-funded public libraries! If a person purchased "Hustler" and gave a copy to my minor child, he'd end up in prison in 10 seconds flat! Why is it, then, when someone put the same material on the web, it all of a sudden becomes free speech that should be protected for everyone, including children? I'm not saying you are making that argument, but when libraries fight filtering software, what else are they saying but that they are not bound by the law to keep pornography from children, and that all citizens have a right to view it, no matter who is watching, at tax payer expense?

      I use "Dan's Guardian" http://www.dansguardian.org on a locked-down proxy server to help shield my kids from pornography. Therefore, I am exercising my right and responsibility as a parent.

      dochood
      • I'm not saying you are making that argument, but when libraries fight filtering software, what else are they saying but that they are not bound by the law to keep pornography from children, and that all citizens have a right to view it, no matter who is watching, at tax payer expense?
        That is not the argument. Filtering software will inevitably and provably filter non-pornographic material by accident.

        Is any *censorship* worth protecting children, especially when children can be protected in another form, that does not require censorship?

        For example, lets say I write a story and one of the main characters name has a pornographic description of a female organ as part of the name. Think of "scunthorpe" england, etc etc. Is my work deserving to be censored because of it?

        The better solution is to use social solutions to keep kids from porn: seperate areas in the library for computers, children on the internet must be accompied by adult when in the library, etc etc.

        I am as much a libertarian and a Libertarian Party member as anyone on Slashdot. But government mandated censoring of some things - even accidentally - is never okay, under any circumstances. You are being a fine citizen and parent by self-policing yourself and the kids. But its a whole different ballgame when the government steps in.
    • Ok you're a troll but I'll bite...

      I cant believe that in today's society that someone can have such a Racist attitude as yours...

      Yes Christians are easy to blame, but they are NOT the cause... the cause is the freaks trying for a power grab. The whiners that hide behind the curtian of God and Christianity. Just like the terrorists that Hide behind the curtian of Islam.

      The problem is with power freaks, and people, be them athiest, devil worshippers, sadists, pedophiles, politicians, Scientists, or Christians.. it is not right and is only proving to the world that you are not any better than those that opress others when you start screaming "THOSE DAMNED CHRISTIANS!"

      as a good christian man... I promptly tell you to go to hell with your comments about my faith.. But the problem still remains... people who want power over others...

      It's them to blame... not some group that you like to bash on a regular basis...
    • by marhar (66825)
      "...and the fiery rhetoric of a few rabid Christians have turned us into slaves of exploitative technology."



      No kidding? Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates are rabid Christians?

  • US Politics (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PhysicsScholar (617526) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:52AM (#4555171) Homepage Journal
    I've been following censorware/anti-censorware issues for awhile now, both here in the UK and over in the United States.

    The inherent problem lies in the fact that your Senate and Congress members strongly disagree on this whole topic, thusly ensuring several competing acts, some for censorware, and the others totally against such information-reducing software methods.

    Unfortunately, it seems many of the more prominent members are in favor of censorware. For example, Senator John McCain from Arizona has proposed a bill that will force schools to implement filtering in order to receive a federal communications subsidy. This bill has raised awareness of the censorware situation, because many free speech advocates oppose it.
    • Re:US Politics (Score:3, Insightful)

      The inherent problem lies in the fact that your Senate and Congress members strongly disagree on this whole topic, thusly ensuring several competing acts, some for censorware, and the others totally against such information-reducing software methods.

      I completely agree, the dichotomy of democracy is that is represents one of the least stable structures from the point of view of the people actually seen to be running it - presidents, prime ministers - people who can be voted out with relative ease. I'd imagine they look with more than a little jealousy at countries led by people who maintain a more rigid grip on the reigns of power using censorship to great effect.

      The key to it all is the difference between good censorship and bad censorship - the good used to secure the powerbase of the government and keep the people ignorant, the bad used by other governments to do the same thing to their people.

      A recent case this brings to mind is in the UK where the media was gagged from reporting on the details of a case (and in fact gagged from reporting on the gag). The case concerned evidence that the UK government had previously paid Al'queda (back in the 80's) to assassinate Gaddafi - something the government believed the people should not be allowed to know...
      Now, is that because it's better for me not to know that the government used terrorists, or is it the government worried that the fact may reduce their credibility in the current 'war on terror'...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:53AM (#4555175)
    Why should it matter if we sell them censorware or not? The people of China are hardly what one would think of as stupid... if we stopped selling them software they'd write it themselves. Developing ways to get around already established censoring techniques is more important than just not giving them the tools with which to censor
    • "Why should it matter if we sell them censorware or not? The people of China are hardly what one would think of as stupid... if we stopped selling them software they'd write it themselves."

      Good point! And very true. But wouldn't it seem odd for some people in this country to make a living censoring Beijing and Riyadh in the name of profit, while others make a living getting around it in the name of democracy?

      How would that look on the international scene?

      If we did that, next thing you know we'd be doing all kinds of wacky things, like... I don't know... suing tobacco companies and giving the money to tobacco farmers [miami.com]...

      • Good point! And very true. But wouldn't it seem odd for some people in this country to make a living censoring Beijing and Riyadh in the name of profit, while others make a living getting around it in the name of democracy?

        Odd yes, but thats the beauty of this country. The lack of cohesion is proof positive that the most major constraint on the direction of your life is your own self.

  • Um... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by acehole (174372) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:55AM (#4555187) Homepage
    I'm just wondering what happens to the companies that invest in the child protection software?

    Could the whole anti-censorware thing catch up the innocents? What is to stop a pr0n company from saying that it's a form of censorship to block the site (although you'd have to be a really sleazy person to argue it).
    • Re:Um... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ArthurDent (11309)
      although you'd have to be a really sleazy person to argue it

      Unfortunately, because it would only take one person, the chances of this happening is almost certain. In fact, this has been happening in pr0n for years, just not in this context.

      There needs to be a way to fully protect children from the evils of the 'Net without hindering consenting adults as it were. Myself, I'm a proponent of having a pr0n top level domain that parents could just block or something like that. That makes it easy for parents, and easy for the pr0n industry and their clients. The only catch to all this is that the government would need to place restrictions on where and how the sites could be blocked.

      A tough line to draw, as it always has been and will continue to be in this arena.

      Ben
    • Re:Um... (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      yes, I'm worried about this too.

      We have to keep the children from finding out about sex, or they will just make more children.

      Soon the entire world will be overrun with the annoying little buggers.

      In general, it's pretty damn important that we quickly find a robust technology to allow our government to keep people from looking at stuff God doesn't want them to look at while at the same time preventing the governments of Satan from keeping other people from looking at the things Satan doesn't want them to look at. The easiest thing would be if we could develop Artificial Intelligence that was capable of distinguishing Godly data from data that comes from Satan.
    • Uhhh, blocking sites (even porn sites) is a form a censorship (my sleazieness notwithstanding). Porn is heavily censored in this country, internet or no internet, minors or no minors.
    • although you'd have to be a really sleazy person to argue it

      You mean you'd have to find a really sleazy lawyer to argue it.

      Luckily, we all know that those don't exist, so rest easy.

  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:57AM (#4555193) Homepage
    If you refuse to deal with someone, you can retain a semblance of ethical purity, it is true. But if they don't *need* your business in order to survive, the embargo doesn't accomplish anything in real terms to effect positive change. Companies and nations that have no ethical qualms about dealing with countries that censor their internet will continue to do business with them, and then you run the risk of being the isolationist odd-man out.

    Besides, with the amount of censorship that is allowed to happen in this country, it'd be fairly hypocritical if we refused to deal with other nations that practiced censorship.

    We're #17!!
  • Where did the founding fathers mention that it is the government's job to spend money to subsidize research? Really, this all sounds wasteful of taxpayer dollars that could be better spent uh I don't know, how about just not spending it? Or maybe paying back some of the massive debt?
  • The Library of Congress explicitely stated that "Compilations consisting of lists of Web sites blocked by filtering software applications" was an exception to the DMCA.

    Presumably this extends to the restriction on tools as well, and the researcher in question just wants the courts to explicitely clarify this.
  • by Dunark (621237) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @09:00AM (#4555213)
    Remember Petswarehouse? How about a bill to protect U.S. Citizens from companies that sue people for saying things they don't like?
  • by MosesJones (55544) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @09:00AM (#4555219) Homepage

    Judge: So who ordered you to perform this research ?

    PhD: Err... the US Goverment

    Judge: Are you aware that this breaks the DMCA ?

    PhD: Not really, I mean the goverment asked me to do this, they wouldn't ask me to break the law would they ?

    Judge: US Goverment did you ask this PhD student to break the law ?

    US Goverment: I've never heard anything so ridiculous when would we ever do that ?

    Judge: Nixon ?

    USG: Apart from then

    Judge: Iran-Contra ?

    USG: Apart from then .... continue for two hours

    USG: Anyway the Goverment never got convicted then, so that means we have a precedent...

    Judge: Good point, Mr PhD Student I sentence you to 10 years in prison for violating the DMCA and 5 years for mis-use of federal funds.

    PhD: ?!

    USG: Nice touch.
  • by limekiller4 (451497) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @09:01AM (#4555224) Homepage
    A absolutely love the fact that we, as a country can, with a straight face, seek to prevent our own citizens from seeing certain things and at the same time subsidize methods to defeat such techniques in other countries ...all while maintaining a straight face.

    But then, I guess if we can subsidize murder in other countries when it suits us and then have the chutzpah to call the same done to us as "terrorism," this shouldn't actually come as a shock, should it?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Our terrorists are "freedom fighters" dumb-dumb. If you can't see the difference, then you are obviously unsuited for an American political career.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yeah, I am sure you would be amazed knowing that we allow our soldiers to kill enemy soldiers during the war without any punishment yet try to take care of out troops the best way we can.
      How amazingly unfair , don't you think ?
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I can tell you vote Republican (if you're even old enough).

        The poster wasn't talking about soldiers, but US funded death squads in Central America during the 80's, the US supplying Iraq with chemical weapons in the 80's, selling arms to Iran in the 80's, assassinating a democratically elected leader in Chile in 1973, etc. The United States does not have a real solid history to stand on when preaching to the rest of the world about terrorists.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      " if we can subsidize murder in other countries when it suits us "

      That's called politics dummy.
      If you don't take care of your interests nobody else will.
      Thank God we have people at the top who seem to realize this very basic principle, something a lot of naive idiots like you seem to have problem understanding.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        "if we can subsidize murder in other countries when it suits us "
        That's called politics dummy.

        Your appreciation of politics is either misinformed, excessively cynical, or downright scary.

        Politics is taking care of your interests, of course. Everyone has a right to do that. Things even go over the top once in a while and people die, sure.

        Murder as a national policy rebounds on the ones who originate it. First aggression rebounds. It instantly justifies any action whatsoever which is taken against the aggressor, purely in the name of self-defence.

        The Nazis were arguably taking care of Germany's interests in annexing the Sudetenland, in invading Poland, in creating fortress Europe and in trying to conquer Russia. Every step was, after all, just politics and was in the long term interest of the German people.

        If you can't spot the problem there, then there may be no hope for you.

    • What's the big deal? Since this country has been founded we have both regulated porn and encouraged free speech, especially political free speech. You are seeking to make things like political speech=porn, which the Supreme Court already rejected years ago.

      Also we are not "preventing our own citizens" from viewing porn (as if we are banning it altogether) but saying that you cannot view porn in a taxpayer funded library. You want to get off on porn, do it in your own house. But you have no right to demand it on everyone's dollar.

      If your truely worried about speech, why not worry about something truly substantial like the Unconstitutional Campaign Finance Reform that harms political speech. [aclu.org]

      Brian Ellenberger
      • by limekiller4 (451497) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @10:22AM (#4555858) Homepage
        Brian_Ellenberger writes:
        "What's the big deal? Since this country has been founded we have both regulated porn and encouraged free speech, especially political free speech. You are seeking to make things like political speech=porn, which the Supreme Court already rejected years ago."

        I'm ...trying to ...equate political speech with porn? What??

        "Also we are not "preventing our own citizens" from viewing porn (as if we are banning it altogether) but saying that you cannot view porn in a taxpayer funded library. You want to get off on porn, do it in your own house. But you have no right to demand it on everyone's dollar."

        The hell I don't.

        What qualifies as porn? How about Jock Sturges? Does his work [body-n-mind.com] qualify? Does this page [fetbot.com] make the cut? How about a website on breast reconstructive surgery [breast-imp...ations.com] for post-mastectomy patients?

        And I wouldn't be doing my argument justice if I didn't bring up the thorny but oh-so-necessary "who decides?" question. I guess the most pragmatic answer is 'the politicians' but is obscenity constant -- is a thing offensive by its very nature -- or does it shift with the political tide? Do we want what we can and cannot see be dictated by those who want to get re-elected? Are you prepared to have Fallwell make this decision for you? You can bet your ass that the aformentioned mastesctomy website qualifies in his book.

        Finally, why is it that only your idea of offensive is truly offensive? To the Chinese, our entire view on individual freedom easily qualifies as offensive and probably more harmful to society than even the most strident Republican we have in office views Mr Goatsex.

        The issue here is not mere pornography. The issue is the tacit assumption and enforcement of the notion that people should be entitled to say what they want BUT other people should not necessarily be able to hear it. The only way for you to get around this is by taking the position that photography does not qualify as speech. Good luck.

        "If your truely [sic] worried about speech, why not worry about something truly substantial like the Unconstitutional Campaign Finance Reform that harms political speech. "

        Ah, the you-must-not-really-be-genuine-in-your-concern-els e-you'd-be-doing-<insert-thing-here>-instead argument.
        • I'm ...trying to ...equate political speech with porn? What??

          Quoting the original article:
          seek to prevent our own citizens from seeing certain things and at the same time subsidize methods to defeat such techniques in other countries

          Define "certain things". "Things" in reference to the US means porn. "Things" in reference to other countries means things like political speech (China). Those are two different "things". It would only be hypocricy if we were trying to allow porn into China while trying to block it here.

          And I wouldn't be doing my argument justice if I didn't bring up the thorny but oh-so-necessary "who decides?" question.

          From Merriam-Webster: "the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement"

          So breast reconstructive surgery does not fall under this definition but playboy.com does. It really is not that hard. Really, there are only a very small number of cases that will fall into the gray area.

          And no, pornography does not "shift with the political tide". Like I said, we have had regulation on this sort of stuff for many years. New York by Gaslight [amazon.com] has some interesting stuff of police in the mid to late 1800's dealing with busting up strip clubs trying to pose as art.

          The issue is the tacit assumption and enforcement of the notion that people should be entitled to say what they want BUT other people should not necessarily be able to hear it. The only way for you to get around this is by taking the position that photography does not qualify as speech. Good luck.

          You can right now view porn in the comfort of your own home. The Chinese cannot read political dissent in the comfort of their own home. That is the difference.

          Noone is seriously trying to ban porn from the Internet. However, a library is a public taxpayer funded place and hence operates under a different set of rules because we all own it. Hence democratic government dictates how the people want to run what is their property. You want a library with free porn? Its a free country, start your own.

          Ah, the you-must-not-really-be-genuine-in-your-concern-els e-you'd-be-doing--instead argument.

          Kinda like what you wrote about:
          But then, I guess if we can subsidize murder in other countries when it suits us and then have the chutzpah to call the same done to us as "terrorism," this shouldn't actually come as a shock, should it?

          Anyway, my point was instead of worrying so much about the right to read porn in a public place, why not worry more about your right to exercise political speech. That is far more imporant than arguing over porn.

          Brian Ellenberger
          • Brian_Ellenberger writes:
            "It would only be hypocricy if we were trying to allow porn into China while trying to block it here."

            Porn and political speech are obviously not identical, and I am not trying to say they are, but I don't see them as being distinct enough to warrant encouraging one and censoring the other. Either you let people express an opinion or you do not. When you begin to draw distinctions based on something as vague and morpheous as "morality" then I itch. And I call this hypocricy.

            Brian_Ellenberger continues:
            "From Merriam-Webster: "the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement""

            Whoa.

            I wrote an email to my girlfriend this morning telling her that the second she walked in the door I was going to kiss her. It was "writing" that was "intended to cause sexual excitement." Gee, I'd better not post that email to the internet. God help any 10 year-old who stumbles across it in the school library! We really do need to shield our kids from this crap, I agree.

            And you're taking the position that the hinge upon which something is either pornographic or not is INTENT?? Then I guess goatse.cx doesn't qualify, does it? I doubt the person taking the picture said, "I'm gonna take this picture because it's gonna turn a lot of people on!"

            Is it still pornographic if I take a picture of a tree with the intent of turning someone on? How do you suggest we filter that one out?

            "Intent." Jumping Jesus on a greased up pogo stick. Ever hear of the phrase "mind police?"

            Brian_Ellenberger continues:
            "So breast reconstructive surgery does not fall under this definition but playboy.com does. It really is not that hard. Really, there are only a very small number of cases that will fall into the gray area." ...and yet you did not attempt to classify the two websites (1 [body-n-mind.com], 2 [fetbot.com]) that I asked about. Please tell me if these qualify as "pornographic" in your book.

            Brian_Ellenberger continues:
            "And no, pornography does not "shift with the political tide". Like I said, we have had regulation on this sort of stuff for many years. New York by Gaslight [amazon.com] has some interesting stuff of police in the mid to late 1800's dealing with busting up strip clubs trying to pose as art."

            Yes, and they've also busted moms for taking pics of their babies, nude, in the tub. In other words, pornography is in the eye of the beholder. Beholders get elected. Beholders get unelected. To say that guidelines for what qualifies as pornographic does not change with the political tide because it is enshrined in law is stupid and naive because it pretends that laws are not interpreted. Gun ownership by individuals was a non-issue under the same laws that it is now being reconsidered under because of [*gasp] political climate.

            And I called your idea stupid, not you, so don't cry "ad hominem."

            Brian_Ellenberger continues:
            "You can right now view porn in the comfort of your own home. The Chinese cannot read political dissent in the comfort of their own home. That is the difference."

            It's a distinction. An irrelevant one, but yes, it's a distinction.

            Brian_Ellenberger continues:
            "Noone is seriously trying to ban porn from the Internet. However, a library is a public taxpayer funded place and hence operates under a different set of rules because we all own it. Hence democratic government dictates how the people want to run what is their property. You want a library with free porn? Its a free country, start your own."

            I'm a taxpayer. I already have.

            When I fund an institution that provides access to information, I have a reasonable expectation that the information be there. I don't believe -- nor have you provided an argument for outside of simply asserting one -- that people have a reasonable expectation to not have information at an informational institution. After all, if they don't want the info, they can just not seek it out. This proves quite clearly that the goal is not protecting anyone (oh, and by the way, when the "for the children" excuse is trotted out, get real suspicious.). I don't need to be protected. And if I feel my daughter needs it, I can be a parent. Oh, perish the thought!

            Brian_Ellenberger continues:
            "Anyway, my point was instead of worrying so much about the right to read porn in a public place, why not worry more about your right to exercise political speech. That is far more imporant than arguing over porn."

            No, it's not. You cannot give up some bit of freedom as irrelevant. It is a toehold for those who wish to oppress. Do you REALLY think I have an itch to surf upskirts.com at my local branch? You, unwittingly, are giving this one up under the assumption that there are bigger fish to fry. There aren't. This is as fundamental as it gets. What qualifies as pornography, regardless of what abstract, nonsensical definition you pull out of a dictionary, is a matter of opinion. And again, an issue you utterly ignored, is that the Chinese consider your idea of freedom as way, way past obscene so your notion of free speech being accessable by all as 'good' and porn being accessable by all as 'bad' is 100% cultural in addition to relative and subjective.

            Oh, I swore I wasn't gonna say it, but what the hell...

            "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

            Do not zip over that sentence. Read it. Then read it again. If you allow "Decency Laws" to exist, then someone who seeks to keep a free people away from information simply needs to find a way to label it as "obscene." You've just made life a whole lot easier for them, haven't you? That's why I like the ACLU -- they don't give a !@#$ whose freedom is being trampled. They understand this core concept, that you cannot give an inch, else you've lost it all.
            • Porn and political speech are obviously not identical, and I am not trying to say they are, but I don't see them as being distinct enough to warrant encouraging one and censoring the other.

              Well we've been doing it since the country was founded and there is plenty of case law doing just that.

              draw distinctions based on something as vague and morpheous as "morality"

              If all morality is "vague and morpheous" then how can you say it is "wrong" for the library to block porn?

              I wrote an email to my girlfriend this morning telling her that the second she walked in the door I was going to kiss her. It was "writing" that was "intended to cause sexual excitement."

              No. Next question.

              And you're taking the position that the hinge upon which something is either pornographic or not is INTENT??

              Come on, its not that hard for a normal human being to look at a picture or a site and tell whether the site is intended for sexual arousal or another purpose (ex. medical).

              and yet you did not attempt to classify the two websites (1 [body-n-mind.com], 2 [fetbot.com]) that I asked about. Please tell me if these qualify as "pornographic" in your book.

              I looked at body-n-mind.com for about a split second and closed it immediately when I saw naked children in France. Honestly, I didn't look at it long enough to know whether it was porn or not. Obviously there are times when child nudity is porn, and times it is not (baby pictures).

              Briefly pulled up fetbot.com. It is a collection of bondage and fetish gear links. Pictures of people in bondage and stories would probably be pornographic. Simple discussions would not. For example, if you having a discussion on religion and BSDM it would not be porn because it would not be intended to arouse.

              Yes, and they've also busted moms for taking pics of their babies, nude, in the tub. In other words, pornography is in the eye of the beholder. Beholders get elected. Beholders get unelected. To say that guidelines for what qualifies as pornographic does not change with the political tide because it is enshrined in law is stupid and naive because it pretends that laws are not interpreted.

              You are greatly exaggerating the amount that people differ in what they consider porn and what people define as port. Just because someone got busted for something doesn't mean it was right or that they were convicted. If the pics weren't intended to arouse then it wasn't porn.

              Your acting as if one year politicans decide women stripping isn't porn and the next year they decide it is. 99% of the stuff they thought was porn 100 years ago probably is still considered porn. Sure there is this 1% that we have an "Art vs. Porn" debate about.

              "You can right now view porn in the comfort of your own home. The Chinese cannot read political dissent in the comfort of their own home. That is the difference."

              It's a distinction. An irrelevant one, but yes, it's a distinction.


              Why, because it refutes most of your argument? You have the freedom to view as much porn as you like it America. The Chinese are not free to read political dissent. Your comparison of US vs. Chinese is flawed because of this.

              I'm a taxpayer. I already have.

              Then vote for politicans that promise porn in libraries.

              When I fund an institution that provides access to information, I have a reasonable expectation that the information be there.

              So you expect libraries to carry every book in existence?

              that people have a reasonable expectation to not have information at an informational institution.

              Does your library stock Hustler, Playboy, and other porno mags? Does it have a collection of porn videos? Not even a few? But what if you are doing a research paper on feminism and pornography and need research and the library does not have internet access? Don't you have a "reasonable expectation for information at an informational institution."?

              The vast vast majority of the time porn is not used for informational purposes. It is used for sexual arousal and jacking-off. Libraries are intended for use for educational and enlightenment purposes.

              You cannot give up some bit of freedom as irrelevant. It is a toehold for those who wish to oppress.

              Then the United States has been oppressive ever since its founding, since that is how long it has regulated porn.

              And again, an issue you utterly ignored, is that the Chinese consider your idea of freedom as way, way past obscene so your notion of free speech being accessable by all as 'good' and porn being accessable by all as 'bad' is 100% cultural in addition to relative and subjective.

              If everything is cultural, relative, and subjective then why are we debating? I believe the Chinese are wrong because they give no access (public or private) to certain information. And they restrict political information, which should be the least restricted information in a free society. I believe the US is better because although we may restrict some things in publically owned areas (libraries) you can still access these thing in the privacy of your own home.

              Think of your ownership of a library as 1 stake (a vote). You only have 1 vote in how to run the library. If all the other people with stakes did not want porn, it is unfair for you to force it on them. However, you have 100% stake in your house. Therefore you can run it as you like.

              If you allow "Decency Laws" to exist, then someone who seeks to keep a free people away from information simply needs to find a way to label it as "obscene."

              These is where you make your Non Sequitur fallacy. "Decency Laws" restrict what you can do in your own home with your own property. You cannot jump from talking about a publically owned library and a privately owned home. And it does not follow that just because porn is restricted in libraries it will then be restricted in your home.

              Brian Ellenberger
            • Brian_Ellenberger writes:
              "I looked at body-n-mind.com for about a split second and closed it immediately when I saw naked children in France. Honestly, I didn't look at it long enough to know whether it was porn or not. Obviously there are times when child nudity is porn, and times it is not (baby pictures)."

              Two of the three books from that site (complete with the exact same pictures you flinched at) are available at your local Barnes & Noble (and there is no indication that they won't carry the third, it just looks like they don't).

              Radiant Identities [barnesandnoble.com]
              The Last Day of Summer [barnesandnoble.com]

              You're claiming it is "obvious" when a thing is pornography or isn't. Ok, then. Should these images be banned, yes or no? Answer plainly. According to you it isn't a complex question.

              Brian_Ellenberger continues:
              "Briefly pulled up fetbot.com. It is a collection of bondage and fetish gear links. Pictures of people in bondage and stories would probably be pornographic. Simple discussions would not. For example, if you having a discussion on religion and BSDM it would not be porn because it would not be intended to arouse."

              Probably, Brian? "Probably"?? You wrote:

              "Come on, its not that hard for a normal human being to look at a picture or a site and tell whether the site is intended for sexual arousal or another purpose (ex. medical)."

              Apparently it's hard enough for you to get no closer than "probably". Tell me; how do you plan on probably filtering a picture?

              Brian_Ellenberger continues:
              If the pics weren't intended to arouse then it wasn't porn.

              This is wonderful! Tell me, Brian, what part of the picture tells you the photographers intent?

              I dismissed the distinction between obscene and political speech as irrelevant to the argument, Brian_Ellenberger replied:

              Why, because it refutes most of your argument? You have the freedom to view as much porn as you like it America. The Chinese are not free to read political dissent. Your comparison of US vs. Chinese is flawed because of this.

              No, this response knocks down an argument that I never had (strawman attack). I'm not concerned with the distinction because both are encroachments on access to knowledge whose boundaries are determined by someone who feels they know better. Which, as much as I am enjoying your "everyone knows what porn is but I don't know if that was porn [barnesandnoble.com]" contortions, is the real issue.

              "So you expect libraries to carry every book in existence?"

              I expect to have access to the ones they purchased with my tax money. I also expect to be able to use the internet tools that my tax money bought. This is getting silly and your sincerity toward this argument is coming into doubt.

              Lets be specific and stop dancing around this...

              Some libraries have the internet available and paid for with tax money. You are the "moving party." You're requesting a restriction. The onus is upon you to provide a reason to restrict, not for me to provide are reason to not restrict. If you question this, my obvious reply is going to be that everything in the public sector does not start off as being restricted and people have to sue for access (well, maybe ICANN, but that's another rant). So...

              1. On what basis do you wish to restrict certain content?
              2. Who or what body decides what qualifies as being within the restriction bracket?
              3. Will your tool filter ONLY restricted material and if so, how do you plan on accomplishing this?
              4. Why should the responsibility be shifted to the library?
              Brain, meet the brass tacks. Tacks, Brian.

              As a side note -- and I say this with no intention whatsoever of painting you as a closet porn aficianado (child or otherwise) -- but I have serious concerns about people who think that there is something so offensive that *I* shouldn't be able to see it. Who has the problem here? I can, and have, looked through some Sturges books. The pictures are beautiful. I think that "offensive" has nothing to do with the intent of the creator but everything to do with the response of the viewer.

              And yes, even in a library. One problem with your "you can still view it in your home" argument is that you think that everyone in America has a computer and an internet connection. For a very large subset of people you are blocking their only access point.

              I will suggest that you're placing a major burden on an already-stressed resource to attach a very imperfect, technical solution to correct a non-problem whose boundaries are set by political whim. Very bad idea.

          • Does this movie review [playboy.com] get you hot? How about this Marshall Faulk interview? [playboy.com]. This review [playboy.com] of the Cadillac CTS and the Mercury Marauder sure does make me hard!

            Those aren't great examples, but my point is that Playboy isn't particularly pornographic. College libraries stock Playboy microfilm for a reason, and it's not because it's pure porn.

  • Just an idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ninjadoug (609521) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @09:03AM (#4555236)
    How about an interview with a normal everyday user in China (i.e. the chinese version of the average /. reader) asking what it is like to be a computer user/nerd over there
    • Not bad. I believe all this becomes culture specific and more to do with how somebody is brought up. (Burping is an act of appreciation in some part of middle east, where as it is bad manners in some parts of the world. And trust me, having seen best of both the worlds, I can give 100 more examples) We reject 'one size fits all'. It can be easily proven that every culture has different views.
  • by Tsali (594389)
    Being an primary exporter of anti-censorship software and utilities, I find this latest decision a concrete step in the right direction since we have been shut out of the domestic market by legislation. Fortunately, our pro-censorship software and utilities have been in great demand since the Patriot Act has gone into effect.

    I need to pay my lobbiest more money.

    (No, I'm not serious.)

  • Just as long as countering this [afterdawn.com] is one of the target objectives, I have no problem with this project.
  • by Alethes (533985) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @09:12AM (#4555290)
    How about forbidding American corporations from trading censorware goods or services to these "repressive governments," wouldn't that be a good start?

    That will work just about as well as forbidding the export of cryptography to rogue nations. It's assuming those governments are not capable of finding somebody that will either ignore the ban or just find somebody within their own ranks to write the software for them.

    Geez, they could just have students write censoring proxy servers as projects and use the best one to censor the whole nation.
  • A mote in our eye (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ianscot (591483) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @09:16AM (#4555310)

    (1) ...These constitutional provisions guarantee the rights of Americans to communicate and associate with one another without restriction, including unfettered communication and association via the Internet.

    They're talking about Americans and the U.S. Consitution, not Chinese and North Koreans, in the bill's very first point. A sign that the authors know what they're about, here?

    (8) Since the 1940s, the United States has deployed anti-jamming technologies to make Voice of America and other United States Government sponsored broadcasting available to people in nations with governments that seek to block news and information.

    The precedent: Because we've had this sort of arms race, jamming and anti-jamming technologies, over the Voice of America, we should also in principle try to disable jamming technologies on the Web? But apparently only when we're trying to reach the communists with our messages of freedom and light?

    The Voice of America is a broadcast message. Big difference between broadcast and point-to-point media: you can control the VoA's programming, but the reason the internet is "powerful engine for democratization and the free exchange of ideas" -- that's the bill talking again -- is because it isn't a controlled state broadcast, it's a bunch of individuals making choices. That's not some detail about the mechanics of the Web, it's what the Web is. If congress simultaneously puts censorware in schools and passes legislation to defeat it abroad, they just don't get how that cuts both ways.

    • Special Interest is exactly why we have schizophrenic laws like this. I personally can't stand the ideas of strong lobbies. Reducing the strength of them is exactly the kind of campaign finance reform I support...
  • It seems on one hand they want to stop countries from censoring but when you look at it.. doesn;t our own fbi and cia do internet censorshp?

    I seem to recall several websites shut down because the fbi did not like thme..I am talk about those sites shut before any court judgemnt not after..

  • by truthsearch (249536) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @09:20AM (#4555332) Homepage Journal
    (e) LIMITATION ON AUTHORITY- Nothing in this Act shall be interpreted to authorize any action by the United States to interfere with foreign national censorship for the purpose of protecting minors from harm, preserving public morality, or assisting with legitimate law enforcement aims.

    "Preserving public morality." The United States Congress's definition of morality. Because if they mean the foreign countries' definitions of morality, that would counter the entire bill. "Legitimate law enforcement." The United States definition of legitimate law enforcement, which these days is being contested by the public. To China, restricting internet access is a legitimate act of law enforcement. As to morals, I don't know what the Chinese government is thinking, but I would think part of their objection to free internet access is their thought that democracy is immoral. Of course the Chinese government is also afraid of what democratic ideas would do to their careers. But I'm afraid this will be interpreted as yet another abuse by the US of its power in the world.
    • It's performing research, not authorizing use. The research is happening now. The usage can happen later -- but it'll take a separate act of government.

      That seems fine to me, no?
    • They're trying to give themselves cover against their opponents. An opponent tries to say "They want the U.S. government to to pay for research so little yellow people on the other side of the Earth can look at pornography!" The bill sponsors reply, "Not at all! In part (e) we specifically state that this is not what this research it for." Of course the fact is the intent of censorship is irrelevant to the methods of circumvention but you don't want to get into that, especially when the U.S. itself promotes such censorship internally.

      I don't see how this would be an example of the U.S. flexing its muscles. Any country could do such research but the U.S. is practically the only one which is interested in actions.
    • Nothing in this Act shall be interpreted to...

      That sounds vaguely familiar. Hmmm, what was it? Oh yeah, now I remember! It was the DMCA.

      1201(c) Other Rights, Etc., Not Affected. - (1) Nothing in this section shall affect rights, remedies, limitations, or defenses to copyright infringement, including fair use, under this title.

      Yep, that's it! The DMCA does not affect fair use. Remember that.

      Now repeat after me:

      THE..D..M..C..A..DOES..NOT..AFFECT..FAIR..USE.
      THE..D..M..C..A..DOES..NOT..AFFECT..FAIR..USE.

      I can't hear you! Louder this time!

      THE..D..M..C..A..DOES..NOT..AFFECT..FAIR..USE.

      Very good!
      Now, all those people who are attacking the DMCA and yapping on and on about fair use - they are all pirates and liars and bad people, and how do we know that? Anyone? Anyone? We know they are liars and pirates because...

      THE..D..M..C..A..DOES..NOT..AFFECT..FAIR..USE.

      Right answer! Excellent!

      -
  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @09:31AM (#4555389)
    Forbid American Corporations?

    What a stupid idea. This is just the sort of failed concept that was tried with all other sorts of technologies, be it NC Lathes (sold to the Russians by Toshiba), strong crypto (is the US the only country with good mathematicians) or chemical weapons technologies (sold to Iraq by German companies).

    With the Chinese [fortune.com] graduating twice as many engineers as the US, what makes you think they can't do this themselves??

  • What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 1s44c (552956) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @09:31AM (#4555397)
    How about forbidding American corporations from trading censorware goods or services to these "repressive governments," wouldn't that be a good start?

    You want to make the world a more free place by banning stuff? Thats wrong.

    We are going to get freedom by making encryption freely avalible. Not by banning filtering systems.
  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @09:36AM (#4555434) Homepage Journal
    ... that the US government tries to censor the Net at home, if they're funding research like this. The fruits of this research will spread around the world at the speed of electrons. I can easily see a situation in, say, 2006 where a) the US has developed compact, easily distributed anti-censorware tools and got them into China, b) China has realized the futility of trying to control people's Net usage when such tools are available and given up, and c) US Net usage suffers from increasing restrictions that do nothing to slow down the h4x0rz but makes everyone else's life more difficult than it has to be. And then what? Why, then, the friendly folks in China start e-mailing innocuously named files ("vacation_pics_from_Beijing.zip") to their friends and relatives in the US, and ...
  • I guess it wasn't confusing enough to (1) subsidize censorware and (2) criminalize researching it -- we also need to (3) subsidize researching it.

    So now I guess you need to (4) criminalize censorware?

  • by Fjord (99230) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @09:53AM (#4555602) Homepage Journal
    How about forbidding American corporations from trading censorware goods or services to these "repressive governments," wouldn't that be a good start?

    Sure. Let's fight repression with repression. It'll be like a war for peace.

    • >Sure. Let's fight repression with repression. It'll be like a war for peace.

      Sometimes I do have the feeling that this is happening right now. But then I am paranoid anyway.
  • How about forbidding American corporations from trading censorware goods or services to these "repressive governments," wouldn't that be a good start?

    That is a good start. Then immediately thereafter, the senior corporate officers of Cisco and Yahoo, along with the technical staff who were "only following orders" should be delivered to the Hague for trial.

  • Does America not manufacutre most of the firewalls and access software? Perhaps we could do some regulation here first?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @10:16AM (#4555801)
    Contradictions in government are nothing new. Does anyone else find it amusing that the government spends a lot of money to (1) Discourage people from smoking and (2) Subsidise tabacco farmers?
  • (1) subsidize censorware Score one for the bad guys. (2) criminalize researching it Score one for the good guys and introducing a double standard. (3) subsidize researching it Score again for the bad guys and introducing a tripple standard.

    A government that pass that sort of laws is clearly insane. I'm really scared of the people you put in power in the US.

    But then again. Democracy is based on the assumptions that the people a) is informed about what is going on, b) act on that information and vote for somebody that has at least half a clue.

    Those who don't vote deserve the politicians they get...

  • by Britz (170620) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @10:19AM (#4555826) Homepage
    In the release statement of Freenet 0.5 on Slashdot yesterday it was noted that the project needs money. Am I the only one wondering about this coincedence? Since Filesharing is possible over Freenet (among many other anti-censorship uses) it will probabely get nothing.
    • by Decimal (154606) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @10:48AM (#4556044) Homepage Journal
      Wrong kind of "freedom." The part of the U.S. government who is working on the project mentioned in this article wouldn't want anything to do with Freenet because:

      a) They didn't invent it

      b) They can't put backdoors in it

      Besides, the government is a money-eating machine. Do you really think they would look at a decent pre-existing solution when they can burn money researching such things from scratch?
  • by The Importance of (529734) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @10:32AM (#4555917) Homepage
    LawMeme [yale.edu] points out a glaring loophole [yale.edu] in the bill.
    • IANAL. About the Section (e) loophole:

      This section clearly limits the authority of the bill. It does not grant any additional powers that weren't already available. Consider the case if this section had been left out. Now the bill would have had additional authority (to interfere with law enforcement and public morality), and people probably wouldn't even have noticed enough to complain. This "loophole" is a red herring.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    > How about forbidding American corporations from
    > trading censorware goods or services to these
    > "repressive governments," wouldn't that be a good
    > start?

    Maybe we should start with encryption software...wait a minute...
  • Senators Wyden (D-Ore.) and Kyl (R-Ariz.) introduced the Global Internet Freedom Act earlier this month, setting aside $60 million over two years "to develop and deploy technologies to defeat Internet jamming and censorship."

    $60 million huh? Sorry, that's not nearly enough to buy a law legalizing napster.

  • Poster seems to confuse "censorship" and lack an inabilility to see a difference between making an effort to prevent a public library from becoming a porn theatre (which the Supreme Court doesn't consider free speech) and helping China have access to uncensored news sources about what's going on in the world.

    So is the government attempting to limit access to porn in government run-libraries, and protect children using the library from the molestors it attracts (see story below) really no different from helping Chinese dissidents find out what's really going on in the world?

    INTERNET ACCESS DRAWS PORN ADDICTS TO LIBRARIES

    It was a mother's nightmare: A Colorado woman and her 7-year-old daughter visited a public library in suburban Denver. The mother briefly left her daughter in the children's room, but when she returned, she found her daughter sitting in front of a computer, an image depicting male frontal nudity on the screen and a strange man sitting beside her. The girl later told her mother that the man had exposed himself.

    This incident is recorded, along with some 500 other disturbing accounts, in a new exposé of online pornography in public libraries. The report's author, David Burt, said his goal is "to expose the myth that abuse of pornography in America's public libraries is a 'practically nonexistent' problem." Burt, himself a librarian, released his study in March during a press conference for a new bill that would require libraries to protect children from accessing Internet pornography on public-use computers.

    Rep. Robert Franks, R-N.J., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., are co-sponsors of the Children's Internet Protection Act (H.R. 368). The bill specifically requires public schools and libraries that receive federal subsidies for Internet access to use either a "clean" Internet Service Provider or install and maintain effective software filtering.

    The American Library Association (ALA) stands firmly against the bill and has argued that the issue of viewing porn in public libraries has been exaggerated. According to ALA President Ann Symons, "The whole issue of protecting children has been blown way out of proportion by the media and those who seek to promote their own agendas."

    Burt's exposé, however, documents 503 incidents of patrons accessing porn in public libraries. (His 94-page report is available at http://www.filteringfacts.org/da-main.htm.) Nearly half the incidents cited involve children and 20 involve child pornography. Among the worst examples are adults deliberately exposing children to pornography, one incident of molestation, and several attempted molestations.

    Burt said the library-filtering bill is a better response to the problem than the ALA's suggestion that libraries simply cover up the problem by installing "privacy screens" on Internet computers--devices that critics say will turn public computers into private peep shows.

    --Steve Watters

  • Pots, kettles... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gillbates (106458) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @11:42AM (#4556468) Homepage Journal
    And it has insisted that providers including America Online leave open the possibility of turning over names, e-mail addresses, or records of political dissidents if the government of China demands them...

    Is this any different from what the US demands of its ISPs? IIRC, the USAPATRIOT act gives the feds the ability to do all of these things should they believe that it would be "relevant to an ongoing investigation". They aren't even required to show probable cause that the victim is committing, or plans to commit a crime - only that the information would be useful to an "ongoing investigation..."

    At least the Chinese are honest - they don't put up any pretenses about being a free country.

  • by mesozoic (134277) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @12:26PM (#4556903)
    Most Congressmen still don't understand what the DMCA means in terms of restricting technological research. For them, the debate was framed entirely within the context of fighting online piracy, and as far as most of them are concerned, the DMCA fought online piracy very well.

    So now a couple politicians realize that countries like China are using censorware to restrict the inherent freedoms of their citizens--freedoms which the US believes every man has, not just its own citizens--and they want to fund research to help political dissidents get around censorware. I'm willing to bet they have no idea that the DMCA, which they approved, prevents exactly this kind of research from being done in the US.

    If anything, this sort of legislative contradiction is A Good Thing. It may help Congress understand why the DMCA is fundamentally flawed, in both conception and implementation.

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