CHICAGO — The Justice Department's legally mandated call for public comments about the economic and manpower burdens associated with 18 U.S.C. § 2257 concluded yesterday.
While the public comments and the number of them have yet to be made public, one adult industry attorney has made his thoughts for adult entertainment records creation and maintenance be known.
Attorney Joe Obenberger said that he's hoping that he's "just lit a road flare and tossed it at DOJ," requesting further discussion on the economic impact of 2257 using an obscure federal law on determining the necessity for information, 44 U.S.C. § 3508.
"Using a very obscure provision in federal law, I've petitioned the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to conduct a formal hearing into the economic burden of these regulations on not only the adult industry, but on ordinary Americans," Obenberger says. "I did this in face of the statutory obligation imposed on DOJ to assess these costs, and the failure or refusal of DOJ to 'certify' the truth of its pretty-crazy under estimates."
The OMB, Obenberger says, provides oversight over administrative agencies to insure the intent of Congress in the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 is complied with. This law was passed by Congress with the intent of keeping Regulators at bay and has a stated congressional intention of reducing the burden on the public.
In his comments, Obenberger says that "the Justice Department go back to the drafting board to think, perhaps for the first time, honestly about the burden its regulations impose — and to change the regulations to eliminate unwarranted burdens placed on ordinary Americans, on small businesses, on photographers and the press, and on advertisers."
Obenberger went on to say in his comment that "our Department of Justice has made serious criminals out of innocent people is shameful. The enormous human and financial burdens it imposes on private intimacy is shameful as well."
The Justice Department, Obenberger said, has "cavalierly ignored" the fact that the industry has changed over the past 15 years and that adult webmasters operate around "kitchen tables by people with day jobs operating on a shoestring, and with no funds with which to either rent an office or staff it with a full time records custodian."
"The regulations which apply to small time mom-and-pop Internet operations and 19-year-old camgirls living in trailers and supporting themselves by live Internet shows, the 21st century equivalent in many cases of working at a local strip club, and far less tawdry and far less afflicted with the surroundings of crime, are the same regulations written by the Department of Justice to regulate a field that it considered to be dominated by the Cosa Nostra when they were first written."
Obenberger said that he's hopeful that his letter, which includes comments, illustrations of billboards and magazine advertising and Paparazzi images that are all within the sweep of the regulations and a petition for a formal investigatory hearing through the OMB, will get an adequate review from the Justice Department.
"Cross your fingers. Regardless of the outcome, I've lit at least a candle here, and time will tell whether what I've done will have any traction," he said.