Saturday, April 22, 2006


A close-up image of a "fully clothed genital region" -- is it porn?

The Bush Administration seems to think so. The U.S. attorney general wants warning labels on Internet pages containing "sexually explicit material." Those who don't follow the labeling requirement could go to prison for up to five years, under the plan.

As reports, therein lies the rub:
A mandatory rating system will "prevent people from inadvertently stumbling across pornographic images on the Internet," Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said at an event in Alexandria, Va.

The Bush administration's proposal would require commercial Web sites to place "marks and notices" to be devised by the Federal Trade Commission on each sexually explicit page. The definition of sexually explicit broadly covers depictions of everything from sexual intercourse and masturbation to "sadistic abuse" and close-ups of fully clothed genital regions.

"I hope that Congress will take up this legislation promptly," said Gonzales, who gave a speech about child exploitation and the Internet to the federally funded National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The proposed law is called the Child Pornography and Obscenity Prevention Amendments of 2006.

A second new crime would threaten with imprisonment Web site operators who mislead visitors about sex with deceptive "words or digital images" in their source code -- for instance, a site that might pop up in searches for Barbie dolls or Teletubbies but actually features sexually explicit photographs. A third new crime appears to require that commercial Web sites not post sexually explicit material on their home page if it can be seen "absent any further actions by the viewer."
The Clinton Administration tried to impose similar regulations in the 1990s; the proposal fell apart when no one could adequately explain how news sites with sexually explicit content -- stories about rape cases, for example -- would be rated.

Why the renewed push to censor sex on the Internet? To protect the children, of course.

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