SAFE Act Passage Panic Overblown

    December 6, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

The Securing Adolescents From Exploitation-Online Act looks scary on a privacy level at first, but is not as fearsome as it appears.

The government did not pick up a blanket license to arrest people with Wi-Fi connections should an illegal image cross their networks, despite the suggestion at Declan McCullagh’s Iconoclast blog that the SAFE Act "sweeps in Wi-Fi, web sites."

All it means, according to George Ou of ZDNet, is such traffic needs to be reported if noticed:

You simply need to report any incidents of child pornography if you happen to come across it. So the only controversial part of the bill that I can see is that it has some retention rules that forces the private sector to retain child pornography images even after they’ve turned over the obscene material.

Retention requirements mean storage, with the requisite expenditures on whatever technology an ISP would need to purchase to store content passing through their networks for evidence purposes.

SAFE does not form a call to monitor everything happening on a network. Ou cited the relevant excerpt from the Act, regarding Protection of Privacy, which noted a service provider is not required to actively monitor a subscriber.

Legal requirements for active monitoring of someone’s traffic have not changed with SAFE’s passage by the House.

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