A proposed law would impose tremendous reporting burdens on virtually anyone (at least U.S.-based) who maintains a web presence and allows other people to post images. The law might cover written text as well. The bill, according to legal authorities, goes well beyond the bounds of constitutionality. However, what usually happens is that some of the more odious or obviously illegal parts get trimmed away, leaving the bill purportedly constitutional. Some of the discussion of the bill centered around obligations of search engines, which have until now been free of the reporting/recordkeeping obligations imposed on ISP's. It would also impose heavy obligations on this board. (Other boards have closed because of uncertainty of the existing 18 USC 2257 regulations) Here are some details of the proposed law:
Senator: Illegal images must be reported.
Millions of commercial Web sites and personal blogs would be required to report illegal images or videos posted by their users or pay fines of up to $300,000, if a new proposal in the U.S. Senate came into law. The legislation, drafted by Sen. John McCain and obtained by CNET News.com, would also require Web sites that offer user profiles to delete pages posted by sex offenders. In a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, the Arizona Republican and former presidential candidate warned that "technology has contributed to the greater distribution and availability, and, some believe, desire for child pornography." McCain scored 31 of 100 points on a News.com 2006 election guide scoring technology-related votes. After child pornography or some forms of "obscenity" are found and reported, the Web site must retain any "information relating to the facts or circumstances" of the incident for at least six months. Webmasters would be immune from civil and criminal liability if they followed the specified procedures exactly. McCain's proposal, called the "Stop the Online Exploitation of Our Children Act" requires that reports be submitted to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which in turn will forward them to the relevant police agency. (The organization received $32.6 million in tax dollars in 2005, according to its financial disclosure documents.) Internet service providers already must follow those reporting requirements. But McCain's proposal is liable to be controversial because it levies the same regulatory scheme--and even stiffer penalties--on even individual bloggers who offer discussion areas on their Web sites. It is also controversial because it puts the burden on such businesses not only to manually review all images, but to make legal judgments as to "legality," a test which even courts argue about. According to the proposed legislation, these types of individuals or businesses would be required to file reports: any Web site with a message board; any chat room; any social-networking site; any e-mail service; any instant-messaging service; any Internet content hosting service; any domain name registration service; any Internet search service; any electronic communication service; and any image or video-sharing service.