I wasn't going to blog anymore tonight because I'm just beat. But I heard a blurb on the radio earlier about the Supreme Court throwing out the Child Online Protection Act, so I naturally had to look into it when I had a chance (which is now).
SCOTUSblog has the story in which the Supreme Court, in my unlawyerly opinion, makes an excellent decision.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the 5-4 majority in Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union, noted that the Court today was being asked to pass upon the validity of a law passed in 1998, on the basis of facts developed in a federal court case in 1999. Kennedy said that the factual record in the case “does not reflect current technological reality,” and he added tellingly that this was “a serous flaw in any case involving the Internet.” At the time of the court hearing, he added, there were 36.7 million Internet hosts; now there are 233.1 million. “It is also reasonable to assume that other technological developments important to the First Amendment analysis have also occurred during that time,” he wrote.
Now naturally the courts are looking at laws not at the internet and computers. I look at it from the perspective of actually attempting to block content. With the current set up of the internet, operating systems, Internet Protocols, etc, etc, etc. It is simply an impossible job. There is no way to get a good handle on it - period.
Yes, you can block "content" with filters, but inevitably those filters are going to block valid content along with missing other content that should be blocked. Ask Dick Armey about this little problem. He's been a vocal supporter of internet filters - only to find his own web site is blocked by many of them because his name is Dick!
To understand where we're at in some sort of context - think of the internet as a small child. We are in toddler hood - possibly even still in infancy and simply crawling. Software and connectivity have gotten far ahead of safety and security. It will take time, money and effort to raise this child to adulthood.
Lawmakers are in the position of being able to make laws about something the do not begin to comprehend. In other words they don't understand how the technology works and it is so easy to say - just pass a law and don't let them do this. They want to make laws to keep people safe (or so they claim) and therein lies the problem. Unlike telephones or televisions, the US has not got control over the internet and unless they want to try and block out other countries - they never will. So, until individual computers can be made in such a way that you the user can have more control over what is and is not displayed while browsing, there will continue to be the possibility that porn will come to your computer.
In the end, this means that parents will have to do some work. (I know such a horrible thought - someone else should take care of this for you, but it's not gonna happen, so suck it up and deal with it). Parents will have to decide whether to allow their kids to surf. They'll have to keep an eye on what they're doing online. They'll have to talk to their kids and make sure they communicate their thoughts and ideas about the porn sites and why they're bad. In other words, they'll have to behave like parents. They'll have to know that their kids will be exposed to things they don't want them to see and hear. And they'll find that for the most part, their kids won't fall apart if they come across this junk.
Passing laws that are impossible to enforce, does no one any good. It makes people complaisant, makes them think they don't have to DO anything because it's all taken care of for them. This is never a good way to live your life or raise your kids. Parenting is an intense, hands on experience. It's never easy and it's not for the faint of heart. So, dig in there and do your job parents. You'll end up with better kids in the end.