The House overwhelmingly passed a bill that puts a huge onus on individuals and ISPs to report a broad range of images or face $150,000 or $300,000 fines: The bill, if passed, would require anyone offering network access (under a broad definition) to report any images they come across that covers a broad range of potential depictions of abuse of minors or their exploitation. Declan McCullagh notes in his post at Cnet that it’s so broad as to include photographs, drawings, and cartoons that require interpretation as to whether they would meet the test. Sounds like viewing an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog could qualify.What incentives will people see if this bill becomes statute? People who provide free wi-fi could see a very strong incentive to turn it off. Even people who provide wi-fi at a price may see strong incentives to shut it down in order to avoid a potential nighmare from big-brother.
From McCullagh’s report, it’s clear that if you operate, for instance, an open Wi-Fi network from your home, you’re not obliged to monitor other people’s uses of it. However, if you were in any fashion to become aware of behavior circumscribed in this law, you could be fined $150,000 on a first offense and $300,000 on a subsequent one—unless you preemptively report, in which case you’re immune to lawsuits and prosecution. Which means people are going to report a lot more or shut down otherwise free hotspots.
Reporting requires that you provide the images that you saw, which obviously opens people up to charges themselves unless everything is handled extremely carefully as possession of child pornography is a de facto crime that allows for no explanation in much of the U.S.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Glenn Fleishman reports