New Bill Would Make Wi-Fi Hotspots, Email Providers, ISPs Responsible for Obscene Content

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The US House of Representatives has a lovely new bill they've just passed that makes everyone responsible for obscenity online if they see it or if it happens to go over their Wi-Fi. It's called the Securing Adolescents From Exploitation Online act (or SAFE, get it?!?), and it's yet another overreaching, reactionary pile of crap from our lovely government. But forget about the huge privacy issues and how the responsibilities it'd place on everyone from hotspot owners to email providers would cripple them, according to a lot of people reporting on it, this'll affect one group above all others: people who are into porn cartoons. Weep for the future!

Yes, despite there being nothing in the bill that specifically references naked cartoons (or Hentai, as they call it in Japan), apparently someone, somewhere realized that cartoon porn falls under the definition of obscenity and realized that their precious wank material was in jeopardy. Mass hysteria!


Let me tell you what the real problem with this bill is, and it has nothing to do with your creepy fetish: if Gmail, for example, is suddenly responsible for everything that passes through its servers, Gmail is dead. There's no way to check every file that everyone emails for child porn (which is the point of this stupid bill), and even if there was it'd be a huge invasion of privacy. And just who would be responsible for keeping the web clean?

That broad definition would cover individuals, coffee shops, libraries, hotels, and even some government agencies that provide Wi-Fi. It also sweeps in social-networking sites, domain name registrars, Internet service providers, and e-mail service providers such as Hotmail and Gmail, and it may require that the complete contents of the user's account be retained for subsequent police inspection


So if anything obscene runs through anything the above parties are responsible for, they get hit with a $300,000 fine. Why don't you just send that douchebag from Dateline to the place where they keep the internet, Congress? He'll be able to sniff out the perverts in no time flat. [SAFE Act via Gadget Lab]