US Government Pushing For Internet Ratings

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United States Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is pushing to require web publishers to rate their content with the intent of minimizing the damage of the world's greatest threat: PORN.

The Bush administration's proposal would require commercial Web sites to place "marks and notices" to be devised by the Federal Trade Commission on each sexually explicit page. The definition of sexually explicit broadly covers depictions of everything from sexual intercourse and masturbation to "sadistic abuse" and close-ups of fully clothed genital regions.

The proposal also aims to target web publishers broadcasting pornography that embed unrelated keywords in their web pages (i.e. children's cartoons).

The bill is also calling for ISPs to bear some of the burden in enforcing these laws, should they be passed.

During his speech, Gonzales also warned that Internet service providers must begin to retain records of their customers' activities to aid in future criminal prosecutions--a position first reported by CNET News.com--and indicated that legislation might be necessary there as well.

Of course, all of this would presumably only apply to those under the jurisdiction of the US Federal government, but in light of the US government's previous attempts at maintaining control over the Internet, the implications may reach further.

via Slashdot

Comments

WTF's up with pr0n being

WTF's up with pr0n being bad? Those idiots should stop those ultra-violent soaps (the freaking news broadcasts) in stead..

Pointless. If it becomes

Pointless. If it becomes onerous, the adult sites will just switch overseas. The only measurable effect will be column inches for Mr Gonzales, which was presumably the point in the first place

I can't imagine a porn site

I can't imagine a porn site putting childrens cartoons in their content. Children dont' have credit cards and no money to spend. Porn sites *don't* want kids to see their stuff becasue it is not profitable.

Will bombing the shit of

Will bombing the shit of children in frivolous wars still be o.k.?

methinks its not pr0n

On second thought I don't think it's pr0n sites this is about - it's all the other sites where you can find all kinds of "fun stuff, wallpapers, free stuff, and babes" ...stuff like that... occasionally some "erotic" stuff, or some nudity can be found such places..

There's also an awful lot of pr0n on the internet that's not on pr0n sites. But that does not make the idea any less braindead.

asking for trouble

I had a run in with p0rn while searching for ["cartoon character name" wallpaper] earlier this year. I've really got no issue with adult content but when they target phrase like that well you just piss people off. I came across no less than 15 sites targeting hundreds of names of cartoon characters. They weren't pushing the mild stuff they were pushing hardcore niche fetishes, couldn't see where the ROI was from that angle.

I can't imagine a porn site

Quote:
I can't imagine a porn site putting childrens cartoons in their content. Children dont' have credit cards and no money to spend. Porn sites *don't* want kids to see their stuff becasue it is not profitable.

They don't target kids. It's been one of the industries I've targeted at times and have never seen anything like that at all.

However, it looks good in a speech. Portray everyone who puts up an adult site as a child molestor or corrupter of the youth. Just like everyone opposed to the Iraq war supports terrorists and those who believe our phones shouldn't be tapped aid Osama Bin Laden. It's just misleading propoganda, but a lot of people will eat it up.

The porn fight has been going on for awhile with Bush. He's gotten tons of flack from the religious sectors about not going hard after it. The ridiculous 2257 regulations which were found unconstitutional was one of the ways. It's scary though that they could end up one day making it so difficult on people who want to put up adult content, that they just don't bother.

Who was the country giving China a hard time about censorship on the web?

Yes

Quote:
I had a run in with p0rn while searching for ["cartoon character name" wallpaper] earlier this year. I've really got no issue with adult content but when they target phrase like that well you just piss people off. I came across no less than 15 sites targeting hundreds of names of cartoon characters. They weren't pushing the mild stuff they were pushing hardcore niche fetishes, couldn't see where the ROI was from that angle.

I agree with you. However, take into consideration that the 3rd and 4th most searched phrase with Marge Simpson is adult related. Go through all your major cartoon characters and see how many people search adult versions of them. I can't blame people for building sites to target that niche.

However, I think the place to put blame is the search engine. Shouldn't their filters be better? I'm guessing those sites are probably not drawing many links from mainstream sites. I also doubt the content is condusive to mainstream stuff either. If you go on a family tour of a city and the tour guide pulls you up in front of a brothel, who are you going to blame?

I Wish It Were So Simple

If you had asked me 5 years ago how I felt about the government getting involved with porn and the Internet my response would have been simple and to the point -- There's no need for the government to regulate or get involved with the Internet.

My views have changed a bit since then.

My daughter wants nothing more than to become a veterinarian, she's 15 and she studies hard, often using search to find information. So for an assignment she had to find pictures of the musculature systems of various animals. Including bears.

Silly me, said check Google images. So she types in 'bear's muscle system'. Really bad choice for a query. She's pretty mature, and other than a few comments about twisted terms for fetishes she was fine. I was pissed off though. Sorry, but a search for that query shouldn't return pics of hairy guys humping each other.

So I offered to perform the searches for her, and went straight to web search. Where, I clicked on what appeared to be a legitimate listing for musculature systems for bears. A quick redirect later and I'm on a site for gay porn.

And while most porn site owners probably don't want minors without credit cards surfing their sites, many porn sites are in the business of selling traffic. Which is a why a site about Guinea Pig breeding was purchased by someone that redirected users to a site about gay men and small rodents and anal cavities, complete with pictures... Hoax or not, I don't care.

The simple fact is, money is involved and many porn site operators aren't interested in self-governing, they are interested in making money.

I'd like to see some regulation. Not because I'm adverse to porn or people making money, but because with no regulation porn site owners are free to do whatever they wish and currently, whatever they wish, is a bit over the top. Regulation, within reason, is not only a good idea, it will occur. Not because governments want to control every aspect of our lives, but because regulations often make sense.

How many unregulated industries can you name that you wouldn't mind being unregulated? Aviation? Nuclear energy?

Now what if your kid checked out some books at the school library, say a book on the Care of Equines and one on The Habits Of Polar Bears. And every ten pages there was a pic of someone having sex with a horse or two old gray-haired guys humping each other? Would you call the school and complain? Maybe contact the publisher?

And yes, I'm aware that it is the responsibility of parents to educate and protect their children. But that doesn't mean that all others are absolved of all responsibility.

Where does it stop?

I don't think you can compare the regulation of aviation or nuclear energy to that of naked pictures on the web. I also don't see many porn sites listing themselves as "The Habits of Polar Bears". And if I did pick a hardcore book up in the library under the Children's section, I'd be mad at the library, not the guy who wrote the book.

I think one of the common misconceptions is that the porn industry in the US is a bunch of guys working out of an alley devising ways to get kids. Most are legit corporations and regular guys. I've seen more greed and corruption out of other industries than adult.

Another issue is the fact that many of those examples that are used involve sites outside the US. Does the guy in Romania building this site on gerbils really care what Alberto Gonzales thinks? Heck, does the guy in the US who forwards a site on Wilma Flinstone to a porn site really care what the government says? It's illegal already in the US, and I can't imagine that this would change the views of someone who is already not abiding by the laws.

The issue should be had with the search engines. Why can their filters not determine an adult search from a non-adult search? Why isn't there more family safe search engines? Perhaps a billion dollar company like Google could put more emphasis on their filters and less on stupid gimmicky projects that we forget about in a week. Of course the reason is that a good percent of searches on the web are adult related, and if someone can't find those adult sites with Google, they'll move elsewhere.

But my argument isn't just about porn. It's about regulation as a whole on the Internet. Where does it stop after porn? Now that you've opened up the gates to regulation, what happens? Do we block all online casinos in the US? Do we force anti-American sites to be rated and blocked by ISPs? Heck, maybe stop people from buying medicine in Canada online? When you let regulation in the door, they will continue to push more and more.

Also, who regulates this stuff? Do I need to have my site reviewed by a board for putting up a nipple slip picture of Lindsey Lohan? Do I need a license to throw up a scantily clad woman? Their definition of sexually explicit would require ABC to put an image on their Desperate Housewives page right now.

I'm more concerned about the pedophiles preying on children in chats and social networking communities. If you want to tackle an issue online involving kids, that is where you start.

kids know

Kids know all about pr0n. Kids, especially, know a hell of a lot more than their parents know about pr0n.

If anybody can find pr0n on the web, kids can. If they can't on the web they'll find it on the television or in magazines. The very same magazines their parents thought they had hidden safely away. Kids will find it - they are far more persistant in that respect than any of us old hats.

And when they do... so what? Regardless if the kid is seven, seventeen or seventy, viewing pr0n is hardly harmful.

---

ADDED:

Added after reading next post: If parents want to control the behaviour of their kids that's their right of course. And their problem. So, filter anything you like on your own PCs for whatever reason you like. No problem.

And of course an adult business is a business like any other business. No problem, that's the way it is today. At least where I live. Meaning, it's not a special kind of business, it is no more illegal than selling cornflakes. Selling cigarettes is more restricted - and for good reasons.

Where Does It Start?

>>I also don't see many porn sites listing themselves as "The Habits of Polar Bears"

Just mentioned a site that came up as a result for 'bear's muscle system', and of course the site didn't list itself that way. That was a direct result of the search engine being nothing more than a algo.

You want to know where it stops, I want to know where it begins. I think it should begin with disabusing the notion that there's a right to anonymity.

So let's start with licensing. Want to run a business? You need a license. Not hard to swallow is it? Happens in the Bricks and Mortar world all the time. Want to run an adult business? Well, that comes with some regulations that must be followed.

Let's start with identifying the business. Why not start with TLDs? Want to run an adult business? Has to be whatever.xxx or whatever.adlt Makes it much easier for search engines to filter now eh? And for parents to filter on their PC. Why would that be a bad thing? It isn't, people just like to whine about their 'freedom' which usually means I want to do whatever the hell I want to do and I don't care how it affects anyone else. That's not freedom, that's called being an 'asshole'. Sorry, can't get drunk and drive, can't shoot your neighbor's dog because it barks, can't go to titty bars when your twelve. Regulations. Sometimes known as laws. They provide for recourse if they are violated.

I can hear the whiners now. That would ruin my business, it's not fair. Bullshit. It's perfectly fair and wouldn't ruin anyone's business. In fact, it would open up business in the adult only search engine realm. Want to surf porn? Provide some ID. Happens all the time in the adult business. Wanna buy an adult magazine at a store? Might be asked for ID. No deal if you're twelve and want to buy an adult magazine.

Adult sites should be closed until ID is provided. Pretty freaking simple. Have to show ID to surf porn. Happens in the real world all the time.

Break the laws, suffer monetary penalties. Break them once too often, get your license revoked. Pretty simple, once again, happens in the real world all the time.

>>When you let regulation in the door, they will continue to push more and more.

Says who? Regulations work in the real world and they can work on the Web. You still haven't mentioned why you think regulation is a bad thing. Because it's a hassle? So what. Business owners deal with hassles every day. Income tax is a hassle, wanna do business? Pay yer taxes.

Amazes me when people simply assume something can't work. Most things can be made to work reasonably well. Citing exceptions as reasons for not acting is simply laziness.

Would it stop all the porn on the web? No. Perfect solutions are rare. Don't let the pursuit of perfection impede progress.

So Joe Schmoe wants to bypass all the regs and sets his server up in Tunisia and makes it available to anyone with a mouse. Fine any non-adult search engine that lists it in the U.S. and any other country that wants to join in the Adult Regulation Act. Non-member countries are forced to pay huge sums or risk having TLDs banned from participating countries' search engines. Get with the program and run your business like a business or get out.

>>Do I need to have my site reviewed by a board for putting up a nipple slip picture of Lindsey Lohan?

Nope. Abide by the regulations of the industry you chose to do business in. Just like you would if you wanted to sell liquor or firearms.

Think you have a right to anonymity? Try to catch a flight in the U.S. without I.D.

Whatever happened to making

Whatever happened to making all porn sites have the extension .XXX or some such?

And how do they propose this thing will work for sites outside the US? I was just given a phrase for a cartoon character that showed many porn sites in the results...many from poland.

I don't see how this could be enforced.

Sorry Claus

>>Regardless if the kid is seven, seventeen or seventy, viewing pr0n is hardly harmful.

What's available is more than just two people going at it. Want your seven-year old to stumble over people screwing dead animals? Or having sex with chickens? Or learning that rape is simply 'alternative sex'. The simple fact is that it is all too easy for young kids to stumble over 'porn' when it shouldn't be available to them.

Agree, partially ;-)

I agree about this:

>> The simple fact is that it is all too easy for young kids to stumble over 'porn'

It is very easy for the majority of kids to see pr0n. Internet access is no requirement, and even with internet access, pr0n sites is no requirement at all.

But, I have nothing to say about what should not be available to whom, that's probably where we disagree. Some parents may think that it's OK for their kids to see "this", others "that", and then some will say "nothing at all". For some, all female bodyparts apart from eyes should always be hidden. I don't agree, but I respect these peoples right to have that point of view. I also respect those that have no restraints on this issue.

These areas are of course where parents get the tricky questions, but that's also where the parents have a responsibility to educate. As an example, kids don't learn that rape is alternative sex unless they're told so and that goes unquestioned by people they trust. And I really don't believe they learn that in the first place. Kids don't learn that a chainsaw is for use on other people by watching movies either, do they? But again, that's just my opinion.

What I'm against is regulation. We don't agree about that, as you seem to think it's a good idea. Well, fine with me, I can agree to disagree :-)

I see this as censorship. Honestly, I do. Not as in "pr0n is freedom of expression" - it is, but really it's no more "an expression" than selling cornflakes is. It's just business - like any other business. It's part of the entertainment/media industry, like horror movies, sci-fi, garden tips, or whatever other segment you can think of. Pr0n is no big deal. It's just pr0n.

But, the reason I'm writing in this thread at all is that I find suggestions for laws like this one extremely offensive when I think about the amount of blood and violence shown on public broadcast daily.

How did we get so far freakin out that sex is a crime and violence is not?

My Example

Since I feel it's relevant here's how I stumbled across some p0rn connected to children's searches.

[starfire teen titans wallpaper]SOME SERPS NSFW

For those of you who don't know Starfire is a female character in a superhero group of teen agers known as the Teen Titans. I will say it's my fault for not having adult filter software on the PC at the time, but I don't think that's an especially relevant adult phrase.

Want your seven-year old to

Quote:
Want your seven-year old to stumble over people screwing dead animals? Or having sex with chickens? Or learning that rape is simply 'alternative sex'.

None of those examples are run out of the United States. Beatiality and such is illegal. The guy in the Netherlands running the beastiality porn site doesn't care what George Bush says. It won't stop it on the web, it'll just become a nuisance for the 99% of webmasters who are running legit sites. It's like draining Lake Michigan with a paper cup.

If they want to stop kids from accessing that kind of porn online, they need to find a much better solution than that.

They Can't

Quote:
Whatever happened to making all porn sites have the extension .XXX or some such?

Republicans shot this one down actually. The reason is that if they create a legitimate .xxx TLD, they are in essence giving it credibility as a legitimate business. This has never been about kids, it's been about them trying to get rid of porn.

much better solution

Exactly. And I think one (or more) can be found. The current solutions provided by the politicians are simply knee-jerk reactions to lobbyist demands.

I think regulation, rather than attempts at elimination, is the key.

User Demand

You're comparing Internet porn to narcotics, liquor, and weapons. Alcohol and weapons kill people. I really haven't heard too many people talk about how they viewed internet porn and went on to kill someone. I think this is such a small problem compared to pedophiles and child molesters online. The focus should be on people that hurt others.

There is no solution that will work online. No licenses, regulations, or anything will work. We ban online casinos in the US. Tell me how hard it is to sign up for one? All these regulations will do is force companies to work overseas and send tax dollars overseas. People will still find ways to get in front of kids. Until our government views this as a GLOBAL issue and comes up with GLOBAL solutions, this will just be another joke system in place.

My solution, USER DEMAND. If you want better protection for your children, it is going to have to come through software, search filters, and even ISP filters. Use the search engine that provides the best filters for your family, pick an ISP based on parental controls and filters. When people demand products like this, companies will come through.

The e-mail industry learned this. You can't regulate spammers. The only way to stop it is through better services and products. When Google no longer pulls up bad results with porn in a child's search phrase, these people will stop.

uhm...

Gonzales also warned that Internet service providers must begin to retain records of their customers' activities to aid in future criminal prosecutions

Being an ex-employee of the largest ISP in this region I know that this is the real reason for that suggested law. All that talk about children is just for making the pill easier to swallow. Yet another thing about it that pisses me off.

You are correct Claus. They

You are correct Claus. They have been hiding behind the protection of children online for a long time trying to get at people's records or eliminating porn to appease religous groups. The whole Google vs DOJ thing was an attempt to go after the porn industry.

For those who say this won't effect business? How many guys are going to sign up for a porn site now that they know it is being recorded for the government? That's Big Brother if I've ever seen it.

For a government so concerned about our children, it's amazing that "Jessica's Law" has been tied up for so long in the Senate.

Wow, that was quick

Anonymous hate email from someone telling me I'm a 'jerk-ass' for wanting to regulate the Internet. (and no, I don't think it was anyone that posted in this thread, used early teen grammar and spelling) ;)

If my undies got in a twist every time someone said something that went against my personal view, I'd have braided ass hair.

For the record, I don't think any of the current porn legislation being considered has any merit. But I do think regulation is coming to the Internet, and in more countries than the U.S.

And why by the way, are you guys typing pr0n instead of Porn? This site will rank for bigmouth handjobs... ;)

Heh... not me

not me, just for the record.. I think it's totally okay that you have the opinion you have, I just don't agree. The pr0n thing is just a habit - sorry about that, it's a hard one to ditch

*LOL* just re-read that last sentence, but I'll post it "as is" :-)

Bears happen to be...

hairy animals and hairy men. And with one click to strict filtering, your hairy humping bears disappear. The filter worked perfectly. I don't see the problem. Well, in this case, I agree that the cartoon searches showing porn are bad.

Maybe your daughter could specialize in domestic pets, as searches for parrot, dog, and cat (make sure she doesn't use a slang term for a cat) muscle systems don't have any porn.

By the way, my nieces and nephews have MySpace accounts and the stuff their friends write (mostly the girls) would make those bear sites look tame. These girls are 13-16. Real live versions of those nasty Bratz dolls. I think regulation needs to start at home for these kids.

>>regulation needs to start at home

I agree.

>>domestic pets

:) I think horses top her list of interests. The search for bears was a school assignment. I don't typically set filters because I keep the PCs the kids use in living areas of the house where *I* can see what they're doing. And I don't think a glimpse of human anatomy is harmful. I kind of equate search engines to the information highway, and the results displayed as billboards. I don't think a few billboard regulations would kill an industry. And yeah, I'd be a bit upset if explicit graphic billboard ads were placed all over the highways.

Smoeone made a point about the .xxx domain legitimizing the adult industry. People also seem to forget that 'regulations' aren't always trivial rules designed solely to extract cash from business owners. Regulations often provide a degree of safety for business owners. If a biz owner can go into court and prove that regulations and policies were adhered to, they're in a much better legal space than if they have to go into court and admit they operate in an area that is largely devoid of any regulation.

There's a reason people refer to porn as an 'adult business'.

>>How did we get so far freakin out that sex is a crime and violence is not?

Don't know where you live Claus, but violence against another person is a crime where I live. Sex isn't a crime though. ;) And who's talking about criminalization?

heh, you are... I admit to

heh, you are... I admit to being rhetoric though :) Violence is safely served to kids on any TV set but pr0n should not be allowed... I just think priorities could be a bit different :)

Eliminate Religion

... and appease porn lovers.

Historically, religion has caused way more trouble than porn, and all religious material should be kept as far away from children as possible before they start believing in Intelligent Design and other superstitious hysteria.

Slap an XXX on the religious sites just to make the playing field even as their mind control garbage is much worse IMO.

Cafepress...

Slap an XXX on the religious sites just to make the playing field even as their mind control garbage is much worse IMO.

T Shirt worthy

amazing....

Not sure what it is about TW, but there is some powerful mojo in this that draws a certain set of individuals.

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