Wednesday, January 07, 2004


Court ponders Web site-blocking law | CNET News.com  

Court ponders Web site-blocking law | CNET News.com: "Court ponders Web site-blocking law
Last modified: January 6, 2004, 3:53 PM PST
By Declan McCullagh
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

update A federal judge in Philadelphia on Tuesday heard a challenge to a controversial state law that has led to more than 1 million innocuous Web sites being accidentally blocked.
Although the law is only a Pennsylvania state statute, it has an international reach. When the Pennsylvania attorney general used it to force MCI to ban access to some sites with suspected child pornography, the company said it had no choice but to block those Internet addresses for all of its North American subscribers.
Two nonprofit groups, the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), filed suit against Pennsylvania in September. Their lawsuit claims that the state law's 'secret censorship orders' have led to more than 1 million Web sites blocked, nearly all featuring legal material. "

This part isn't necessarily bad, since it seeks to limit the spread of child porn, but the following section, though, is different-

"A URL is neither a person nor a real forum nor a limited commodity," Pennsylvania said. "It is a little string of letters and numbers that acts as a superficial label. URLs are infinite in quantity. Even complete retirement of one will not diminish speech. Speech can always find another URL, and probably (one) pretty close to the out-of-commission string. The new URL will be in the same cyberspace, accessible in the same physical places, as the retired URL."

That last part shows how totally clueless parts of our government are about things relating to the Internet. And that's a BAD thing. URL's are "a little string of letters and numbers that acts as a superficial label"??? Maybe we should have a Constitutional amendment that forces lawmakers to understand what they're talking about before they can pass a law about something. That "superficial" string, as WE all know, is the ONLY thing can specifically identify a web site, outside of the IP address. Since IPv5 and up allows playing games with perceived URL's, the IP is the only final arbiter of a website's location, but that hardly makes a site's URL "superficial"!

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?