Sunday, May 06, 2007

More Bad Anti-Porn Legislation Proposed

In IT Professionals Would Be Required to Report Child Porn Under Proposal at Capitol by Susan Haigh, WTIC reports yet another example of sugar-coated, feel-good, bad legislation being considered by a legislature than is clueless.
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) _ Computer technicians would be obligated to report child abuse just like doctors, teachers and others who work closely with children, under measures being considered by lawmakers in two states.

At least five states _ Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina and South Dakota _ require computer technicians to report child pornography. Connecticut and California are considering legislation that would go a step farther, adding technicians to the list of ``mandated reporters'' who notify authorities about any type of child abuse and neglect.

``Computer usage is a very real part of our culture and daily activities,'' said New Britain Police Sgt. James P. Wardell. ``Laws must change and evolve to reflect this ever-changing technological advancement.''
Officer Wardell is correct, the laws must change but not in this way.

Laws that assume that content found on any computer is the direct result of activity by the owner are out of touch with the "ever-changing technological advancement" officer Wardell cites.

As we've seen in the Julie Amero case, computers now perform life-cycle activity that may be completely unknown and uncontrollable to the user. The fact that an image, link, or even program exists on a computer may be wholly co-incidental to the owner's experience, intent, and lifestyle. To apply the legal concept that possession is 9/10th's of the law would be a miscarriage of justice in every case. In fact the activity of the technician could very well contaminate the customer's drive.

Add to the confusion of how one would acquire the expertise to know without a shadow of a doubt that any image is a real person under the age of sixteen and you have an Orwellian recipe for disaster.

No law is better than a blind, dumb one. Certainly images that suggest existing criminal activity should be reported as a matter of professional and civic duty.On the other hand, requiring the Computer community to suddenly report every instance of pornographic material found on private computers exposes parents of teens and the teens themselves to odious social harm.

The fact of the matter is that young boys will seek out pornographic materials unknown to teachers, parents, and others. This is a natural curiosity that accompanies becoming a man. In a 2005 article called, The secret life of boys, Pornography is a mouse click away, and kids are being exposed to it in ever-increasing numbers by Bella English, the Boston Globe tells us the facts about pornography and teens.
Those who work with adolescents agree that parents who discover their child is downloading porn regularly should be firm without shaming him. Kendrick likens it to obscene rap lyrics or suggestive videos that parents forbid. ''You can say, I understand how you can be very curious about these images, but we don't support people who think of women in these ways. . . . We don't welcome them into our house, not through the boombox or your iPod, not through the radio, or the television, and not through the Internet."

Kendrick might want to add cellphones to that list. Companies such as Playboy and X-rated film producers have announced plans to bring ''adult material" to cellphone carriers, which they ultimately expect to be even more lucrative than Internet porn.

Today, one-third of children between ages 11 and 17 have their own cellphones. The number is expected to increase to nearly 50 percent in two years.

Kids and porn

According to a poll released in March by the Kaiser Family Foundation:

70 percent of teens ages 15-17 say they have accidentally come across porn while using the Internet.

25 percent of the boys admit they have lied about their age to access a website.

76 percent of the teens say their schools have Internet filters on the computers.

33 percent say their home computer has a filter.

Family Safe Media, an outfit that sells Internet filters and other blocking devices, has also compiled research on the topic. It has found:

The average age at which a child is first exposed to Internet porn is 11.

The largest consumer of Internet porn is kids between ages 12 and 17.

12 percent of all websites are porn sites.

25 percent of all search engine requests are for porn.
The article is worth reading. And once you read it, you have to ask yourself if you want every Skippy computer technician turning a mom, dad, or teen to police for felony investigation. And you also have to ask yourself if you want to arm the Skippy's of the world with the power to destroy a family or individual by planting such material on a drive. Political and corporate reputations could be washed away by the simple accusation. And once again, the material may be co-incidental, automatically generated, or planted with few clues as to the truth.

This suggestion for a law is a bad idea and it should be rejected.

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