July 21, 2006 12:20 PM PDT

Congress targets deceptive 'sex' sites

Web pages that use innocent words like "Barbie" or "Furby" but actually feature sexual content will be subject to felony charges, thanks to a bill the U.S. Senate approved Thursday.

Anyone who includes misleading words or images intended to confuse a minor into viewing a possibly harmful Web site could be imprisoned for up to 20 years and fined, the legislation says.

"I appreciate the willingness of all members to put aside unrelated controversial issues so that we could focus on the core purpose of this bill--protecting children," Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said during the floor discussion. The Senate approved the bill by a voice vote.

Senators target sex

The U.S. Senate has approved a bill targeting some sexually explicit Web sites. Here's an excerpt:

Whoever knowingly embeds words or digital images into the source code of a Web site with the intent to deceive a minor into viewing material harmful to minors on the Internet shall be fined under this title and imprisoned for not more than 20 years...

A word or digital image that clearly indicates the sexual content of the site, such as 'sex' or 'porn,' is not misleading...

The term 'source code' means the combination of text and other characters comprising the content, both viewable and nonviewable, of a Web page, including any Web site publishing language, programming language, protocol or functional content, as well as any successor languages or protocols.

The 163-page Child Protection and Safety Act (click here for PDF) represents the most extensive rewriting of federal laws relating to child pornography, sex offender registration and child exploitation in a decade. Supporters say it's necessary to protect the nation's youth.

An earlier version of the measure had already cleared the U.S. House of Representatives, which is expected to approve the revised version next week. President Bush endorsed the bill Friday, saying it will provide "law enforcement officials with the tools they need to track those who prey upon children."

If the bill becomes law, it's not clear which Webmasters would become federal felons. Sites like Kontraband.com, which show Barbie and Ken dolls having simulated sex, could be in trouble, depending on how prosecutors and juries interpret the language.

A key phrase in the legislation promises prison time only if a Webmaster has the "intent to deceive" a casual visitor. David Greene, staff counsel for the nonprofit First Amendment Project, says it could pass constitutional muster if used against Web sites that trick minors into viewing off-color sexual material.

Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor who has written a legal textbook on the First Amendment, said the "intent" requirement is crucial. Judges could go either way on deciding whether the legislation is constitutional or not, Volokh said.

"It becomes difficult to prove and difficult to predict what a jury will decide, because it's a question of what your purpose was" in creating the Web site, Volokh said.

In addition, the Child Protection and Safety Act (named for Adam Walsh, who was abducted and murdered at 6 years old) would

• Punish the intentional Internet sale or distribution of "date rape drugs" with a new federal crime that would carry a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison. The list of offending drugs would include gamma hydroxybutyric acid (sometimes called liquid ecstasy), ketamine and flunitrazepam (better known under the trade name Rohypnol).

• Specify that anyone who must register under the proposed law's requirements would no longer enjoy any electronic privacy. Such a person must make his "computer, other electronic communication or data storage devices or media" available to police examination without a warrant at any time.

• Force sex offenders to provide a DNA sample, a requirement that many states already have adopted.

• Create a national sex offender registry to be run by the FBI, with "relevant information" on each person. It's supposed to permit geographical lookups based on ZIP code.

• Fund a series of pilot programs, lasting up to three years, to tag sex offenders with tracking devices that would let them be monitored in real time. The devices would include a GPS downlink (to provide exact coordinates), a cellular uplink (to transmit the coordinates to police), and two-way voice communications.

• Begin a study to evaluate the effectiveness of monitoring and restricting the activities of sex offenders. That study would include "limiting access by sex offenders to the Internet or to specific Internet sites."

"This bill will protect children and save countless lives by dramatically improving our efforts against sex offenders and violent criminals," Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, said after the Senate vote. "Too many parents are devastated by an innocent child exploited and harmed by predators lurking in our communities."

Sensenbrenner, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, predicted the House would send the bill to Bush for his signature next week.

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24 comments

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come here furby!
FURBY- bahahahaha
Posted by baswwe (299 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's APATHY like yours, baswwe...
that has led up to [b]UN[/b]Constitutional laws like this being allowed to proliferate! :|

Instead of [i]TROLLING[/i] on message boards, why don't you use your computer to [b]EDUCATE[/b] yourself on what is [b][u]REALLY[/u][/b] going on in this World and with Politics in general???...while you [b]STILL[/b] can! ;)
Posted by btl-jooz (81 comments )
Link Flag
Finally...
Ok everyone get your blowtorches ready.

Thank god congress or for that matter our government and justice system is starting to pass legislation that is in favor of the victim rather than the offender!
Posted by JohnUSAF (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
USAF??
Hey John, remeber that oath to support and defend the contitution of the United States of America you took? Sometimes that means protecting it from the system. This is clearly an over reaction and certainly go's to far. You cant tag people like anamials.
Posted by (15 comments )
Link Flag
Bull
This is exection year grandstanding. Once again if it not "terrorism" it is "Save the Children". And removing the privacy rights of people who have already served their full sentence in downright unamerican. Once again the idiots who vote for the idiots in Congress have proven what sheeple they are. Please government, be my nanny. Please government ruin peoples lives after their they have served their time because they "frighten" me. Damn it, when will the adults in this country, act like adults.
Posted by PzkwVIb (462 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Question:
While I agree with the gist of your satire, I do have a question for you:

Can [u]you[/u] say [b][i]DIEBOLD[/i][/b] or [b][i]CHADS[/i][/b]????????????????????????????
Posted by btl-jooz (81 comments )
Link Flag
Ok
What if the bill dosin't pass? Just make the ISP's block the bad sites!
Posted by computerguy82 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
WRONG!!!! That's CENSORSHIP which is
ILLEGAL under the Bill of Rights:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.billofrights.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.billofrights.html</a>
Posted by btl-jooz (81 comments )
Link Flag
About the only thing I agree with BTL Jooz on
Yes, compelling the ISP's to block the sites would be censorship and I agree it would infringe on the scummy webmasters' right to free speech. (The ISP's blocking them of their own accord would not be censorship as they have the right to limit content contained on the servers they own)

I do not believe that this bill, yes I've read it, is unconstitutional though. It's the 'yelling "fire" in a movie house' situation as far as the misleading tags and pointers go. Porn can cause substantive harm in children's development therefore this should be a punishable offense. If it's porn, call it porn and let the people that actually want it find it easily.

As far as the 'rights' of sex offenders - hey, you lose your right to vote as a convicted felon - I've got no problem with losing your rights to the internet. I would back any candidate with enthusiasm that would propose the death penalty for child molesters and rapists. Barring that, which bleeding heart liberals are never going to let pass, how about sentencing them to life in 'no contact with the outside world' villages in remote regions?

There is no cure for pedaphelia. Our children must be protected from them. The only way to do that is to remove them from society permanantly.
Posted by mrketchfish (26 comments )
Link Flag
What's Next?
Hey, I'm all for penalizing the appropriate sex offenders (especially those who intentionally inflict harm on children), but perhaps a line should be drawn for excessive legislation. Not as an effort to lessen penalties, but to curb this current excessive zealotry of legislatures for punishment.

I find it strange and scary that a man who pats someone on the butt can have their privacy taken away, tagged like a studied animal, two-way monitored, listed by zip code online, registered, and so much more...but severely violent, aggressive offenders who commit similar atrocious acts are free to roam with minimum after-detention penalties.

Sex-offenders have become the standard-bearer of how society will inflict severe punishments openly, without fear of regret. Normally, and still today I can see how parents and society want to protect such predators and their high recidivism liklihood, but I certainly don't want a return to people being drawn-and-quartered.

Think I'm joking? States are already considering death penalites for sex-offenders. The previous poster was correct...election year grandstanding from politicians not fit to decide their OWN discretions, let alone protect anyone's children. p.s. nearly all of these provisions are after-the-fact details, to those who have already offended...typical reactionary B*S
Posted by teeter3000 (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree
It's hard to stick of for the rights of sex offenders, but we let the government start tagging them who's next?
Posted by Bob Brinkman (556 comments )
Link Flag
How do you suppose you'll accomplish this...
....in a timely manner, if at all? Let's see, Congress has dodged
dealing with this issue as far back as 5 years ago when the first
idea of creating a .xxx or .sex domain wast concocted by ICANN
(<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.icann.org/" target="_newWindow">http://www.icann.org/</a>).

Your not going to effectively deal with this issue until you enact
the .xxx and .sex domain names and require sex sites to
register with these domains within 1 year or face stiff penalties.

Meanwhile I'll create the robots necessary to log the .xxx
and .sex domain as well as the robots that search regular
domains like .com, .org, .gov to ensure that there is no porn
corrupting domains like .com and .net. These robots would
obviously be Government Controlled and abide by rules set forth
by congress in proper meta formatting of these specific sites.

Then someone else can create the software necessary to ensure
that computers are able to effectively block out the
domains .xxx and .sex and report and offending sites to the
proper authorities.

Ahh, the proper authorities! Let's see, Congress can't agree on
Net Neutrality so appointing a proper authority to monitor this
new action will be a feat in it's own.

Should I keep going on? If you going to tackle this battle you
should make sure your ducks are in place. And if you can't deal
with Net Neutrality than I can ensure you that you ducks won't
be place.

Now your starting to understand what I have already know. The
Net issues are the biggest issues you'll ever deal with!

Justin
Posted by OneWithTech (196 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You are SO CORRECT on this!!!
nuff said ;)
Posted by btl-jooz (81 comments )
Link Flag
Witch Hunt Hysteria
I agree that fater anyone has served their time as mandated by
the courts, then leave them the heck alone to rebuild their lives.

How far do you push someone before they snap, and something
happens? According to data I've seen on a VOCAL website,
possibly 40% or more of offenders are factually innocent. They
go to prison because they can't take the stress of the situation,
the accusation, the hell of it, and cave to a deal.

You'll notice that murderers, drug dealers, and habitual drunk
drivers aren't required to go through all this. Why? Because sex
offenders don't want to be in the spot light. Not because of
their alleged crime, but because of the threat of violence against
them. Some have been murdered because of information on
Megan's Law sites. They're become an easy target for politicians
that don't have any issues of substance to campaign with.
Posted by Gromit801 (393 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Exactly RIGHT!!! Here's the how and why...
...the CENSORSHIP has begun:

THIS is the root source of the Megans Law sites you mentioned:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cid/cac/registry.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cid/cac/registry.htm</a>

These links PROVE your point. They also bring up the TRUE agendas at work here.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=1855771&#38;page=1" target="_newWindow">http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=1855771&#38;page=1</a>

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://saltlakecity.about.com/b/a/257300.htm" target="_newWindow">http://saltlakecity.about.com/b/a/257300.htm</a>

Quotes from: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://portlandme.wpadmin.about.com/?comments_popup=257612" target="_newWindow">http://portlandme.wpadmin.about.com/?comments_popup=257612</a>

1. According to data compiled by the U.S. Justice Department, the high recidivism rate of sex offenders is a myth. Sex offenders have an overall recidivism rate of less than 6 percent over three years, and 40 percent of those who do re-offend do so in the first year after their release. More detailed analysis confirms that a sex offenders likelihood of committing a new crime decreases the longer he or she remains free; in other words, if theyre going to commit another crime, it will probably happen in the first few years after their release.
Of course, this sort of data doesnt make for good sound bytes for politicians seeking to foster a get tough image to bolster their chances for election or re-election; but its the truth, as much as they may deny it.
Nonetheless, the supposedly high sex offender recidivism rates that politicians seem to pull out of thin air (when was the last time you heard one cite an actual study to validate the numbers they quote?) have created an environment where the mere presence of an individual who committed a sex crime five, ten, or twenty years ago is enough to cast a community into a state of panic. Given the misinformation and lies of the politicians (and the medias dutiful reporting of same), its no wonder that some, at least, feel that vigilante justice is an appropriate response.
In the end, it all comes down to a simple question: Should our government be in the business of facilitating vigilantism? Certainly the legislators who wrote these laws will argue that that was not their intention, but the effect is the same.
These laws remind me of the attractive nuisance concept in liability law. People who work with potentially dangerous equipment (circular saws, pesticides, chemicals, and so forth) are required to safeguard those items to prevent curious children (and others) from hurting themselves. If a carpenter leaves his circular saw unattended and a child picks it up and cuts himself, the carpenter is liable for costs and damages related to the childs injuries. The argument that it wasnt the carpenters intent that a child pick up and play with his circular saw is irrelevant. By leaving it unattended, he created an attractive nuisance; and he is therefore liable.
Creating a public hysteria about sex offenders, and then publishing their names and addresses on the Web, where anyone can access that information without so much as providing identification, is akin to leaving a power saw unattended. Anyone  stable or unstable, honorable or malicious  can access that information and use it in any way they like. This opens the door not only to vigilantism, but also to innocent people being killed because of mistaken identity.
If this information is to be made public at all (personally, I think it should only be available to law enforcement professionals), then the only safe balance between the publics right to know and the concept of the rule of law is to release the information only to adults who physically walk into a police station, present identification, and make an inquiry about a particular individual. This creates accountability and helps safeguard against random vigilantism.
In other words, if the neighbor down the street seems to be a bit too friendly towards your children and you want to check him out, that seems to me a legitimate use of sex offender registration information. But to simply publish all of this data on the Web, with no safeguards to prevent it from being used irresponsibly or criminally, is unconscionable in a society whose conduct supposedly is based upon the rule of law.
Comment by Bugsy  May 4, 2006 @ 10:01 am
2. Anyone who values their liberties and who has studied history should be afraid - very afraid  of these laws.
Long before Hitler killed the first Jew in Nazi Germany, he paved the way for the wholesale disenfranchisement of human beings by  you guessed it  attacking the rights of sex offenders. From 1933 through 1936, a series of amendments were passed to Paragraphs 173 through 188 of the German Penal Law specifically targeting homosexuals and others determined to be sexual deviants.
The sex offender laws created under the Nazi Third Reich may as well have been the model for Megans Law. They established the first sex offender registry, required sex offenders to register their whereabouts and to wear pink triangles, and established draconian punishments for sex crimes that included long prison terms, loss of voting rights, confinement in concentration camps, and (sometimes) the death penalty. All of these laws were justified by the Nazis in the same way that our present-day politicians justify Megans Law: to protect the children from sexual predators.
Of course, Hitler had other things in mind, as history shows us; and targeting sex offenders was just a way to establish the precedent of wholesale deprivation of human rights in preparation for his later attacks against the people he truly hated.
Its doubtful that the German people would have acquiesced to Hitlers rounding up Jews, Gypsies, Communists, Socialists, trade unionists, and so forth, and sending them off to death camps in 1933 when he first ascended to power. Hitler had to first establish a precedent that some people were subhuman and unworthy of human rights  and he started with the most universally despised group he could find.
Anyone who thinks that this couldnt happen again is delusional. The simple fact is that history shows that you cant single out one group for deprivation of civil rights without weakening those rights for everyone else.
Comment by Liberty Lover  May 7, 2006 @ 8:54 am

To learn more on the TRUE nature of what is going on visit this site:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.geocities.com/eadvocate/issues/?20064" target="_newWindow">http://www.geocities.com/eadvocate/issues/?20064</a>

and go through it with a fine toothed comb.

Needless to say, if any of these links are broken HERE, PLEASE copy and paste them to your browser. These sites DO work at THIS moment.
Posted by btl-jooz (81 comments )
Link Flag
Won't work. This is just election year posturing.
It might stop U.S webmaster, but not international ones. This is as worthless as the the website labeling idea and the .xxx domain.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
INTENT!!!!
The beginning of the law says it all. Sites which use these words for the INTENT of misleading children. That in and of itself sets a burden of proof so high, that this law is self-defeating. But then again, it shows that this is political grandstanding by morons that have no real clue as to what they are talking about.

Just because of this, I think it's time to put up my Furby does Barbie site, and make sure there is a YOU MUST BE 18 To Enter front page. Obviously, my intent is not to confuse kids if I am telling them to stay the F*** away. See, I have no intent of misleading kids, and I can have Furbies bangin' on Barbie all I want.
Posted by bemenaker (438 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Brian,
You make [i]too much[/i] [b][u]SENSE[/u][/b]!!! ;)
Posted by btl-jooz (81 comments )
Link Flag
Get EDUCATED: READ my answers to posts...
[b]EDUCATION[/b] is our only [u]defence[/u] ;) so make sure to bookmark and go through each and every link [I've included] with a fine toothed comb :)
Posted by btl-jooz (81 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Give me a break
I don't think this bill will last either that it will get struck down if someone decides to bring it to a high court

I feel like I'm in China now
Posted by kyle172 (65 comments )
Reply Link Flag
why not get this over with?
Why doesnt Congress just pass an Enabling Act,
make Bush President-For-Life, burn down Congress
(blaming it on political opponents, and forget
to rebuild it), put Cheney in charge of the
Secret Police and gas chambers, abolish the
Constitution, declare Amerika a one-party,
one-religion theocratic dictatorship, and we're all set.
Posted by testor1140 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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