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House votes to shut down the Internet

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In a move designed in theory (and I use the term loosely) to combat child porn, the House of Representatives has passed a bill saying that anyone offering an open Wi-Fi connection to the public must report illegal images including “obscene” cartoons and drawings–or face fines of up to $300,000.

CNet reports: “That broad definition would cover individuals, coffee shops, libraries, hotels, and even some government agencies that provide Wi-Fi. It also sweeps in social-networking sites, domain name registrars, Internet service providers, and e-mail service providers such as Hotmail and Gmail, and it may require that the complete contents of the user’s account be retained for subsequent police inspection.”

Maybe I live in a bubble and am sheltered from the real world, but I don’t see too many paedophiles downloading teraflops of kiddie porn at my local coffee house on a Sunday. The effect this law will have on child porn is likely to be negligible at best. The effect this measure will have on free speech will be devastating. Aside from making it very difficult for art students to finish their assignments on Renoir in public, it would make it practically impossible for any business or organization to offer free wi-fi near or in any public place.

This is the stupidest law I have ever heard of, and there have been some real doozys these last few years. The Senate needs to squash this, and the government needs to start listening to people who understand how the web works. Or soon it will be illegal to check emails at home, in case terrorists try to bring toothpaste onto the Internet.

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