Stevens demands online porn rating system

Jan 20, 2006

In a week in which the Child Online Protection Act is back in the news, Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, used a committee hearing Thursday to fire a warning toward the adult entertainment industry.

"My advice to your clients is that you better do it soon or we will mandate it," Stevens told Paul Cambria, counsel of the Adult Freedom Foundation, of developing a rating system for online content.

Cambria, the object of derision from several senators, said his industry is trying to take steps toward keeping minors away from adult entertainment.

"We're going to attempt to come up with solutions in helping the filtering process be successful," Cambria said.

Cambria said that his organization represented "a group of very influential producers and distributors" within the adult industry, but that not every pornographer will go along with AFF standards.

He said that most of what his industry does is fully constitutionally protected.

"It's lawful adult expression that is accepted in America in both the marketplace of ideas and the commercial marketplace," Cambria said.

COPA has been hung up in court since becoming law in 1998, challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and others.

The Department of Justice, preparing for the next legal battle, this week subpoenaed Google to provide data that the search engine will not release willingly.

The ACLU contends that COPA is overreaching and that Internet filters do an adequate job of blocking objectionable content from children. The DOJ wants information from search engines to see just how effective filters have been.

Yahoo!, among other search engines, complied with the DOJ's request, which is for information that is general and not user-specific.

Google said in a statement, "Google is not a party to this lawsuit and their demand for information overreaches. We had lengthy discussions with them to try and resolve this, but were not able to and we intend to resist their motion vigorously."

Rebecca Jeschke, spokesperson for the EFF, said Google's stand is "a good statement in the battle for privacy."

She noted the chilling effect that COPA could have.

"One of the fears is that people may not search for information that they want because of Big Brother watching over their shoulder," she said. "It would be a shame if people weren't able to use the Internet the way they would like to."

She noted the EFF Web site offers anonymizing software for users who are concerned for their privacy.

Several senators broached the idea of creating a dot-xxx suffix for pornographic Web sites.

Laura Parsky, deputy assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice, said dot-xxx is not a realistically useful idea.

"There are several issues of practicality and whether it would be effective," Parsky said.

Cambria noted that pornographers could flout the rule by setting up offshore sites. He instead suggested a dot-kids domain, where parents could set their computers to only allow the age-appropriate sites that have a dot-kids suffix.

James Burrus, deputy assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Investigation Division, said that the FBI was doing a good job curbing child pornography within the current legal climate.

"We're doing as best we can," he said. "With additional resources we could expand, but we can work without our present budget."

Burrus said the anti-child pornography effort should be two-pronged.

"In addition to the enforcement side, we think prevention is a key," he said.

James Weaver, a Virginia Tech professor, agreed.

"We must accept that no single solution will be sufficient," Weaver said. "We need multifaceted and innovative approaches to the problem at hand."

Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., used the hearing to revisit a bill she authored last summer that calls for an Internet Safety and Child Protection Trust Fund, which would finance government attempts to crack down on child pornography.

The trust fund would be bankrolled by a 25-percent excise tax on all legal Internet adult entertainment transactions.

"These are not costs that should fall on the backs of ordinary citizens," Lincoln said.

Jeschke said that Lincoln's proposal "seems to impinge upon the rights to possess constitutionally-protected material."

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said that there are problems on the Internet beyond the mere existence of pornography.

"Online pornography is being enabled by spam and by spyware," he said, calling spyware "an insidious problem."

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Microsoft beefs up security protection in Windows 10

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The impact of social media

Sep 25, 2014

Janey Lee, a new faculty addition to Lehigh's Department of Journalism & Communication, is combining her interest in media psychology and political communication with her past career as a Korean journalist ...

Top South America hackers rattle Peru's Cabinet

Sep 02, 2014

The Peruvian hackers have broken into military, police, and other sensitive government networks in Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela and Peru, defacing websites and extracting sensitive data to strut ...

Body by smartphone

Jul 30, 2014

We love our smartphones. Since they marched out of the corporate world and into the hands of consumers about 10 years ago, we've relied more and more on our iPhone and Android devices to organize our schedules, ...

Recommended for you

Microsoft beefs up security protection in Windows 10

2 hours ago

What Microsoft users in business care deeply about—-a system architecture that supports efforts to get their work done efficiently; a work-centric menu to quickly access projects rather than weather readings ...

US official: Auto safety agency under review

15 hours ago

Transportation officials are reviewing the "safety culture" of the U.S. agency that oversees auto recalls, a senior Obama administration official said Friday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been criticized ...

Out-of-patience investors sell off Amazon

15 hours ago

Amazon has long acted like an ideal customer on its own website: a freewheeling big spender with no worries about balancing a checkbook. Investors confident in founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' invest-and-expand ... domain sold for big payout

15 hours ago

The owners of the website have scored a big payday with the outbreak of the epidemic, selling the domain for more than $200,000 in cash and stock.

Hacker gets prison for cyberattack stealing $9.4M

19 hours ago

An Estonian man who pleaded guilty to orchestrating a 2008 cyberattack on a credit card processing company that enabled hackers to steal $9.4 million has been sentenced to 11 years in prison by a federal judge in Atlanta.

Magic Leap moves beyond older lines of VR

20 hours ago

Two messages from Magic Leap: Most of us know that a world with dragons and unicorns, elves and fairies is just a better world. The other message: Technology can be mindboggingly awesome. When the two ...

User comments : 0