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Feds' porn-regs threaten independent sites; Rotten.com's problems
Background on 18 USC 2257:
Information on last-minute deal between Free Speech Coalition and the Feds:
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Rotten.com: our gapingmaw.com site shut by Feds, 2257
Date: Wed, 22 Jun 2005 17:20:07 -0700
From: Xeni Jardin <email@example.com>
To: 'Declan McCullagh' <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Rotten.com: our gapingmaw.com site shut by Feds, 2257
A message on gapingmaw.com (which you could call an industrial-strength
grossout blog of sorts) says:
CENSORED BY US GOVERNMENT 18 USC 2257
Yes, that is correct. The things that used to be here, the very funny
things that you want to read, have been made retroactively illegal by the US
government, in a side-handed attack on the pornography industry.
We might mention that the material here isn't even pornography as you
normally think of it -- this site is just adult humor, in essay format, with
some illustrations. The government is mandating that we meet certain
bookkeeping requirements, ones impossible to meet for this site. Never mind
that those requirements do not actually gain the public anything. This is
the strongest attack on free speech since the passage of the CDA, and oddly,
the media seems to have hardly noticed. The penalty for not abiding by these
bookkeeping requirements is five years prison.
The regulations were promulgated by Alberto Gonzales, US Attorney
General appointed by George Bush. If you voted for Bush, this is your fault.
If you think this country is free, you are sadly mistaken. No nation has
freedom when it is run by religious zealots.
Link to gapingmaw.com, such as it is:
The law in question is ostensibly aimed at preventing the exploitation of
minors in pornography. However, some free speech advocates argue it provides
the conservative Bush administration with far-reaching power to effectively
silence a wide array of websites deemed offensive. Here's the full text:
Link to U.S. Code : Title 18 : Section 2257.
The adult biz advocacy group Free Speech Coalition (FSC) filed a lawsuit
last week challenging 2257, and AVN has more on that: Link.
Xeni Jardin | www.xeni.net
* co-editor, BoingBoing.net
Wired Magazine, Wired News, etc.
* technology contributor: NPR's "Day to Day"
say: /SHEH-nee zhar-DAN/
Mailing list for updates:
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 18 USC 2257 to go into effect at midnight... greatly increases
recordkeeping reqs. for online erotica
Date: Thu, 23 Jun 2005 12:05:54 -0700
From: Joseph Lorenzo Hall <email@example.com>
To: Dave Farber <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Declan McCullagh <email@example.com>
"So now the DOJ has wisely made the world safer by forcing anyone even
remotely connected with publishing erotic images to keep elaborate
files on the true identities of everyone in said images for seven
years. And we're even more secure because law enforcement officers can
wander into adult businesses any time they want, without a court
order, and go through every single file for hours or days at a time."
# On File
By Annalee Newitz, AlterNet
Posted on June 22, 2005, Printed on June 23, 2005
When the US government wants to police what citizens are saying
online, it pulls out the most potent weapon in its arsenal:
bureaucratic regulations. The Department of Justice is currently
pushing two new regs that will generate long-lasting records of what
people are posting and reading. What's particularly dirty about all
this is that it puts the onus of tracking people on private
businesses, rather than in the hands of law enforcement.
How will this tracking regime begin? With a group of unpopular and
often marginal people, of course. You know - pornographers. The DOJ
recently issued a regulation, which goes into effect next week,
updating the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act for the
Internet age. This law, also simply known as 2257, after its number in
the criminal code, requires adult businesses to keep detailed records
proving that all the models they use are over the age of 18.
Incidentally, these records will also contain the real names of
performers, and often their addresses too.
To keep "proper records" under the new version of 2257 (and avoid
steep fines or jail time), you must maintain files that contain every
single erotic image or film you've published, cross-indexed with
age-verification papers for every single performer in them. These
records must be kept for seven years. That's a hell of a lot of hard
drive space if you run a porn site that posts streaming videos. It's
also a logistical nightmare for any site that does reviews of adult
movies or erotic material. Republishing an erotic image - even if
you're doing it simply for the purposes of criticism - requires you to
keep the same age-verification records as the people who created that
image. The law also applies to any Web site that posts "lascivious"
images of naked people or people engaging in "sexual activity."
Joseph Lorenzo Hall
UC Berkeley, SIMS PhD Student
Posted by Declan McCullagh on Jun 27, 2005
in category free-speech
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