Monday, December 18, 2006

Alex Jones' Flunky Watson: Keep Child Porn Online

Kudos to our commenter Jay who points out this bizarre column by Alex Jones' sidekick Paul Joseph Watson.

Republican Senator John McCain has introduced legislation that would fine blogs up to $300,000 for offensive statements, photos and videos posted by visitors on comment boards, effectively nixing the open exchange of ideas on the Internet, providing a lethal injection for unrestrained opinion, and acting as the latest attack tool to chill freedom of speech on the world wide web.

McCain's proposal, called the "Stop the Online Exploitation of Our Children Act," encourages informants to shop website owners to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who then pass the information on to the relevant police authorities.

Comment boards for specific articles are extremely popular and also notoriously hard to moderate. Popular articles often receive comments that run into the thousands over the course of time. In many cases, individuals hostile to the writer's argument deliberately leave obscene comments and images simply to sully the reputation of the website owners. Therefore under the terms of this bill, right-wing extremists from a website like Free Republic could effectively terminate a liberal leaning website like Raw Story by the act of posting a single photograph of a naked child. This precedent could be the kiss of death for blogs as we know them and its reverberations would negatively impact the entire Internet.


Sounds horrible, except when we visit McCain's page on the proposed legislation, it turns out to be nothing like that:

Contrary to what has been reported by some news outlets, the reporting requirements in the legislation would apply only to child pornography. In addition, the bill is in no way targeted at the free speech rights of bloggers or anyone else communicating their views on the Internet.

"For example, the speech rights of bloggers and others online would not be impacted because the legislation does not require the monitoring of users or the content of any communication. Nor does it require online service providers to seek out child pornography on their sites. Rather, it requires online service providers to report child pornography when they become aware of it, either through a report from a subscriber or user, or through a discovery of the material by an employee. As a result, the reporting requirement would protect children while not imposing a financial or administrative burden on online service providers.

"I cherish the rights of individuals to speak freely on the Internet. That right and the ability to exercise it is what makes the Internet the critical innovation that it is. This bill doesn’t interfere with that, but is intended only to ensure that online service providers that find child pornography on their networks report those images to the appropriate authorities."

12 Comments:

At 18 December, 2006 15:35, Blogger Manny said...

Aw geez. It's physically painful to come to the defense of these whackos and terrorist supporters, but one must be fair.

Watson's reaction is not all that atypical of the early reaction in the online press and the blogosphere. People who operate decent-sized web boards or blogs which don't "bump" posts, in particular, are concerned that they could be held criminally liable for nothing more than insufficient monitering of their sites. The fear (and to be fair, I have no idea if this fear is justifed) works like this: suppose some CTist sticks some kiddie porn in one of your posts from way back. You don't check that far back so you don't see it. Couple months later, the Feds are in your office.

I suspect (again, without knowing) that the fear is more dire than any reality which would come from this proposed legislation -- it usually is. But Watson is by no means an outlier in expressing the fear. And given what McCain did to political speech with McCain-Feingold, I don't find his soothing words to the contrary entirely convincing.

 
At 18 December, 2006 16:25, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Manny,

Thanks for the comments.

Shows McVeigh was in military receiving instruction in "explosives and demolition" over a year after official story says he was discharged

 
At 18 December, 2006 16:50, Blogger Alex said...

BG,

Thanks for the comments.

Shows that BG is a "retarded spammer"

 
At 18 December, 2006 16:55, Blogger MarkyX said...

I'm somewhat confused by this bill at the moment.

If someone reports it, do they get automatically fined, or does the "feds" contact the admin say "Yo, pull that shit or we charge you"

It seems like a lot of speculation and fearmongering to me.

 
At 18 December, 2006 19:46, Blogger Manny said...

If someone reports it, do they get automatically fined, or does the "feds" contact the admin say "Yo, pull that shit or we charge you"

Actually, you're off the hook if you didn't personally post it and you report it. The problem (from the blogger or webmaster's perspective) is when they fail to report it or to keep records for a sufficient period of time.

I'd encourage you to look it up yourself at thomas.gov; I'd link it myself but I've never figured out how to create static links from that site. The legislation as currently proposed says,

"(f) Failure to Report-

`(1) KNOWING AND WILLFUL FAILURE- An online service provider that knowingly and willfully fails to make a report required under subsection (b)(1) shall be fined--

`(A) in the case of an initial knowing and willful failure to make a report, not more than $150,000; and

`(B) in the case of any second or subsequent knowing and willful failure to make a report, not more than $300,000.

`(2) NEGLIGENT FAILURE- An online service provider that negligently fails to make a report required under subsection (b)(1) shall be subject to a civil penalty of --

`(A) in the case of an initial negligent failure to make a report, not more than $50,000; and

`(B) in the case of any second or subsequent negligent failure to make a report, not more than $100,000."

But. But a) there is other language in the proposed law which is less clear on the consequences; b) you never know what is really required until a law has gone through the regulatory process (just ask those poor saps who thought SOX wasn't that bad!) and c) many laws are introduced with negotiating points pre-written into them.

So I guess the answer in my mind is that in a strict sense it's not fearmongering of a potential outcome should the bill pass as written, but it's probably an overstatement of the probable outcome.

There's days when the EFF is alarmist, days when it's extremely valuable and days when it's useful. I'd say EFF is 'useful' in this instance.

 
At 18 December, 2006 22:49, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Full 3 hour audio Alex Jones coverage posted to my podcast:

Episode #34: Breaking News about Timothy McVeigh

 
At 19 December, 2006 00:53, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, good points Manny. I'd have to know more before deciding Watson is whacko on this point. When reading the piece, I did note that wherever the bill was actually quoted it didn't sound much like what he said it was. Tho I dig some of their info, Jones and Watson and all the Prison Planet crew do the alarmist mirepresentation thing a lot...

 
At 19 December, 2006 09:48, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Caustic Logic said...

Bingo!

 
At 19 December, 2006 10:14, Anonymous Anonymous said...

bg...

Ran your "breaking news" media through our SIMS Facial Recognition System.

Not even close!

 
At 19 December, 2006 10:37, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SIMS Facial Recognition System.

Tell me more. What is this?

 
At 19 December, 2006 10:52, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a biometric facial regonition software package we use in the casino industry made by L-1 Identity Solutions. It's used by more than 200 casinos around the country. It helps us prevent "losses". That's all I'll say in what we use it for. I'm sure they have a website that can tell you more about how it works.

 
At 04 November, 2007 19:56, Blogger Kasriel said...

Proof that AJ Supports Child Porn, All members, users, and moderators must see this:
http://digg.com/politics/Alex_Jones_Loves_Craves_Supports_Child_Pornography_and_Child_Exploitation

 

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