Senator McCain’s Proposal For The Web

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Senator John McCain, Republican from Arizona has recently introduced legislation that if passed could have major implications on the blogosphere. The proposal called “Stop the Online Exploitation of Our Children Act” would require Web sites to remove user profiles posted by sex offenders. In addition commercial Web sites and blogs would be required to report illegal images or videos posted by their users or face a fine of up to $300,000.

Internet service providers are currently required to follow the reporting requirements. Bloggers with a comment section could face even tougher penalties than ISP’s. Social networking sites will have to take similar measures such as deleting user profiles.

Kevin Bankston , an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation said,” I am concerned that there is a slippery slope here. Once you start creating categories of industries that must report suspicious or criminal behavior, when does that stop?”

While protecting children from predators is more than admirable how will Web sites and blogs be able to enforce such a law? Free Speech Coalition Board Chairman Jeffrey Douglas said, “It is impossible to identify what is or is not obscene. Identifying child pornography when it does not involve pre-pubescent minors is also nearly impossible.”

In a statement on his Web site McCain said,”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.”

Reactions to the proposed legislation have mainly been in favor of protecting free speech and taking a personal responsibility approach. “Again, someone is proposing yet another set of laws to do the job of a parent. Why not make it unlawful for a parent to allow the exposure of their children to obscene, pornographic or predatory material? Content filters and tracking software is available to every parent to control the use of their children’s computers and avoid such exposure.”

In a post with a slightly different view leftcoast wrote,”If this bill does not inhibit free speech, but does indeed put one more impediment between children and predators then I’m all for it.”

Whatever happens with this proposed legislation it will continue to stir serious debate for both sides of the issue.

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Mike is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.

Senator McCain’s Proposal For The Web
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