Wednesday, 28 June 2006

Ratings and warnings of "sexually explicit material"

According to a C|Net article, the Senate Commerce Committee approved an amendment to a bill that would require web site operators to place a label on their home pages if the site contains "sexually explicit material" and to "rate 'each page or screen of the website that does contain sexually explicit material' with a system to be devised by the Federal Trade Commission'" ("Senators adopt Web labeling requirement").

There is no hope that a workable system could be based upon that rule. Set aside for the moment the probably-fatal First Amendment concern that "sexually explicit material" is unlikely ever to be defined clearly enough to survive judicial scrutiny and that we would need such a definition for multiple categories of sexually explicit material. The stated purpose of the bill presumes that children do not want to see sexually explicit material. According to the article:

"This will protect children from accidentally typing in the wrong address and immediately viewing indecent material," said Sen. Conrad Burns, a Montana Republican who is the co-founder of the Congressional Internet Caucus.
Have you ever known a child to walk away from something sexually explicit without looking at it? I doubt such a child exists.

Posted at 7:16:12 AM | Permalink

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Topics: Civil Liberties, Cyberlaw
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