Three Nations, Three Laws

This week has brought several developments on the legal front.

First, a federal judge has put on hold one of the first US “revenge porn” statutes for being grossly overbroad, as predicted by famed industry lawyer Lawrence Walters. The law would have prohibited almost all nude images from being posted online, regardless of consent or intent.

Second, because of a quirk in Spanish law, theater tickets in that country are taxed at a higher rate than adult publications. An enterprising company is using this to its advantage by selling porn with “free” theater tickets included, which ends up costing customers less than the standalone theater tickets.

Finally,  as Stephen Yagielowicz of Xbiz reports, a new set of legal restrictions for adult content goes into effect in the UK on December 1:

The broad strokes are simple: the U.K. is now a laboratory for a bold experiment in ISP content filtering, mandatory online age verification, and the licensing of sites based upon their content.

Questions Remain as U.K. Porn Law Takes Effect

With new adult website regulations hitting the U.K. on Monday, Dec. 1, many porn producers, marketers and distributors are questioning how (or even if) these measures will affect them — and receiving conflicting answers. Read More>>

The Internet Is Still No Place for Children

Despite claims by Comcast and others that the Internet is a really just a big ol’ “school supply” for children, Infosecurity Magazine‘s Tara Seals recently reported on a study by security firm (ISC) 2 which found that “Growing internet use among children is also having a negative impact on education. About 5.1% of 9 to 11-year-olds have been late and 1.8% absent due to late-night web surfing, while a full third (33%) admit that late-night internet use and online gaming has harmed their education.” (emphasis added)

Further, the study shows that almost a fifth of children aged from 9 to 11 have met online strangers in real life, while a whopping 20% of elementary school children have pretended to be 18 or older, although the article doesn’t specifically say they did so to access porn.

The study concludes that:

“Young children appear to encounter less adult supervision online than in the real world, which is encouraging them
to take greater risks than they would in their offline lives,” said Tim Wilson, a school governor and lead volunteer with
the (ISC) 2 Foundation’s Safe and Secure Online program

Despite all this, as DSL Reports notes, the US government continues to forge ahead in throwing billions of dollars at getting as many children online as possible, even though much of the money spent so far cannot be accounted for:

The E-Rate program has doled out nearly $30 billion since its inception in 1998. While much of that money went to quality work connecting the nation’s schools and libraries, much of it was lost in a wormhole of loose government oversight and fraud, resulting in many libraries lacking the bandwidth to serve visitors despite the billions spent in endless, often-untracked subsidies to telecom companies.

Best Product Name Ever

One of the funniest headlines I have ever seen, from the Austrian Times:

Controversy Over Advert For Fucking Hell Beer

According to the article, “An Austrian political party has defended a decision to promote a local beer named after the village of Fucking.” The word “hell” means “light” in German, so it simply means a light beer from the town of Fucking (pronounced foo-king). The European trademark office rejected a complaint that the name was obscene, noting that the English meaning is only a humorous coincidence 😉

"Fucking" Sign

“Fucking” Sign

Net Neutrality and Internet Cost Confusion

A recent video at “Funny or Die” featuring porn stars advocating for Net Neutrality makes an unfortunate mistake when, like Sen. Cruz last week, it conflates open Internet rules with a low-income Internet subsidy. Describing Net Neutrality as allowing the indigent to watch high-definition porn, as this video does, is not helping open-Internet advocates who already face conservative opposition.

A better solution to making US Internet service more affordable would be “unbundling,” or requiring the DSL/cable monopolies to allow competing ISP’s access to the consumer over the “last mile” of their networks. DSL Reports notes that Sonic.Net CEO Dane Jasper advocates this solution:

“Net neutrality violations are only a symptom of limited competition, argues Jasper, something that could be  fixed if the country returned to discarded rules requiring that incumbent ISPs open up their infrastrcuture to competitors.”

Obama Supports Net Neutrality in Strong Statement

Surprising many critics, including myself, President Obama today announced that he strongly advocates that the US FCC reclassify Internet service as a common carrier under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. According to DSL Reports, Obama acknowledged the major role of Internet communications in daily life, stating that “The time has come for the FCC to recognize that broadband service is of the same importance and must carry the same obligations as so many of the other vital services do.”

Net Neutrality advocates will face an unsympathetic Congress. For example, Extreme Tech quotes Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) as calling Net Neutrality “Obamacare for the Internet,” apparently confusing it with the Lifeline low-income telephone program, which does not yet apply to Internet service.

The president’s bold statement comes after open-Internet advocates posted some 3.7 million comments on the FCC’s website and after protestors even blocked the driveway of FCC chairman (and former cable TV lobbyist) Tom Wheeler.

Save the Internet

Save the Internet