Feeds

CDT attacks anti child-porn law

ISP blocking

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A US civil liberties group has attacked an anti child pornography law because it potentially blocks access to legal sites.

The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) said that a recent Pennsylvania law that forces ISPs to block access to numerous Web sites without adequate court oversight was unconstitutional.

The law force ISPs with Pennsylvanian customers to block subscribers from at least 420 Web sites around the world which supposedly contain illegal photographs. Failure to comply with this law can result in a $5,000 fine.

However, CDT has argued that because ISPs must block Web sites based on their Internet Protocol (IP) address, sites that are completely unrelated to child pornography could also end up being blocked. This is because most Internet Web sites share their IP addresses with many other unrelated Web sites, said CDT.

Indeed, a study by Harvard University researcher, Benjamin Edelman, released on Thursday found that 85 percent of Web addresses ending in .com., .net, or .org share their IP addresses with at least 50 other Web sites.

As such, commented CDT, the law is an unconstitutional restriction on free speech and amounts to punishing everybody in an apartment block because of one tenant's activities.

"Child pornography is abhorrent and cannot be tolerated in a civilised society, but the Pennsylvania ISP law attempts to fight child pornography through means that are unconstitutional and technically flawed," said CDT Associate Director Alan Davidson in a statement. "This law does little to punish the producers of child pornography, but blocking sites that are not pornographic will have serious ramifications for free expression and the stability of the Internet."

Only once has an Internet provider challenged the law, which was introduced in 2002. WorldCom said that while it found child pornography to be repugnant, the introduction of filters on behalf of Pennsylvania citizens would affect all their subscribers in North America from visiting thousands of Web sites "completely unrelated in content and ownership" as the illegal material.

The Pennsylvanian Attorney General, Mike Fisher, has defended the law as an effective method of blocking access to Internet-based child pornography. "It has worked in nearly every case," a spokesman for Fisher told Associated Press.

The spokesperson added that in cases where an illegal Web site shares an IP address with an innocent site, the authorities contact the ISP and orders them under threat of legal action to pinpoint and shut down the illegal pornographic site.

© Newsforge.com

A new approach to endpoint data protection

More from The Register

next story
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Nintend-OH NO! Sorry, Mario – your profits are in another castle
Red-hatted mascot, red-colored logo, red-stained finance books
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?