Home > News > Sen. McCain Aims to Expand Federal Obscenity Reporting Law • Bookmark   • Newsletters   • Register Search Options

NEWS STORY

Sen. McCain Aims to Expand Federal Obscenity Reporting Law

Sen. McCain Aims to Expand Federal Obscenity Reporting Law
Get XBIZ News
Dec 12, 2006 3:30 PM PST    Text size: 
WASHINGTON — Speaking at the close of the 2006 legislative term, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he plans to introduce legislation that would extend federal obscenity reporting guidelines to all forms of Internet communication when the Senate reconvenes in 2007.

The proposed law could bring millions of adult and mainstream commercial websites under the same regulatory regime that governs Internet service providers.

Known as the Stop the Online Exploitation of Our Children Act, the bill requires webmasters who operate websites that employ message boards, chatrooms, social networking functions, email or instant messaging services to comply with federal obscenity reporting guidelines. Internet content hosting services, domain name registration services, search engines, electronic communications services and image and video-sharing services also would fall under the purview of the proposed legislation.

Under the proposed law, webmasters would be required to report illegal images — including child pornography and some form of obscenity — to authorities, or face fines of up to $300,000 and possible criminal prosecution.

Webmasters also would be required to preserve records for up to six months of any “information relating to the facts or circumstances” of an incident involving obscenity or child pornography.

“This legislation would reduce the sexual exploitation of our children, and punish those who cause them physical and emotional harm through sex crimes,” McCain said. “In recent years, technology has contributed to the greater distribution and availability, and, some believe, desire for child pornography.”

Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Kevin Bankston expressed concern that laws such as the one McCain has proposed present a “slippery slope.”

“Once you start creating categories of industries that must report suspicious or criminal behavior, when does that stop?” Bankston said.

Bankston added that a vague definition of obscenity means that all websites, particularly those run by smaller operators, face a difficult task when it comes to identifying illegal content.

Free Speech Coalition Board Chairman Jeffrey Douglas told XBIZ the bill smacks of ignorance.

“It would be nice if people who introduced these things knew what they were talking about,” Douglas said. “It is impossible to identify what is or is not obscene. Identifying child pornography when it does not involve pre-pubescent minors is also nearly impossible.”

According to Douglas, McCain’s bill will encourage webmasters to over-report incidents, which would be ineffective for law enforcement and create a chilling effect on constitutionally protected speech.

“Under the law, it would be crazy not to report,” Douglas said.

For ISPs, which are already obligated to report incidents of obscenity and child pornography, the bill contains some good news, according to Kate Dean of the U.S. ISP Association. McCain’s legislation does much to clarify the reporting procedure under for ISPs, Dean said.

In the meantime, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the FBI are expected to continue their calls for mandatory data retention for ISPs in the coming year. Rep. Diana Degette’s office said the Democrat from Colorado plans to introduce legislation in the House early in 2007 that would require ISPs to retain records of users’ online activities.

While the 2008 presidential election is still a long way off, McCain, who has announced his candidacy, looks to be a strong challenger for the Oval Office in the general election, if he can clear a field of more conservative Republican nominees during the primary season.

Douglas said he believes legislation such as this, which he hopes will not gain traction given the change of power in Washington, could be an effort on McCain’s part to use the politics of fear in his Presidential bid.

“It is typical of modern politics to try to motivate voters through fear because a more thoughtful approach to solving the problem is not as immediate,” Douglas said.

More ways to get XBIZ News:  RSS Feeds  |  E-Newsletters  |  Desktop Widget  |  Mobile
Looking for porn star news and behind-the-scene videos? Check out XFANZ.com !

PROFILES & BIOS

Cam World: Q&A With Studio 20’s Andra Chirnogeanu

One of the blue-ribbon studios in the cam biz is Studio 20, which is now a global brand, with locations on both sides of the Atlantic — from Romania to Hollywood, Calif. Of course, with every strong... More »

Cam World: Model of Month Jenny Blighe Is Red-Hot

Have you found out about MyFreeCams sensation Jenny Blighe, the fiery Arkansas redhead? For the past four years, Blighe’s been camming on an almost-daily basis on MyFreeCams, building a loyal fan... More »

Justin Sayne Leather Expands Team, Gears Up for Eventful 2017

When Justin Sayne looks back on 2016, he will likely remember it as a year in which his Arizona-based company, Justin Sayne Leather, grew by leaps and bounds. Important new hires joined the company, Sayne... More »
XBIZ NEWSLETTERS
Stay informed of the latest industry developments. Get XBIZ newsletters delivered to your inbox. Subscribe today!
Enter email address:

* To manage existing subscriptions click here.






POPULAR PRODUCTS & SERVICES
Submit your press release to
multiple news outlets with 1 click.
Subscribe to RSS news feeds or
add free content to your website.
Access XBIZ news and articles
with your mobile device.
Access the latest issues of the industry's leading trade publications in digital form. View online or download for offline viewing.

UPCOMING EVENTS

The European Summit

Mar 04 - Mar 07
Barcelona-Sitges, Spain

The TEA Show

Mar 05 - Mar 06
Hollywood, CA

Phoenix Forum 2017

Mar 23 - Mar 26
Tempe, Arizona

EXXXOTICA Denver

Mar 31 - Apr 02
Denver, CO.
Everyday thousands of business professionals browse XBIZ's industry directory for quality products and services. Not listed yet? Your company could be losing potential new business. Submit your company today!
Use XBIZ RSS feeds to stay informed of the latest industry developments or as a content syndication tool for your website!