Are we moving towards a Nanny Internet? Between network neutrality, laws requiring dating sites to perform background checks and ISPs to rat out their users, laws banning anonymous posting, and cyberbullying legislation, one might argue that the Nanny Internet is shaping up nicely. Or not.
Network neutrality is the idea that ISPs should be forced to charge everybody the same for their Internet use. That means that ISPs could not charge the enormous users of the their Internet access facilities differently than they charge the tiny user. It means they could not tell a large Internet advertiser to pay more for premium content delivery. So instead, they will need to amortize their operating costs against – you got it – their end users. Network neutrality legislation (and make no mistake about it, that is what this is about – passing a law forcing ISPs to charge everybody the same) is presented as “a nondiscrimination law.” Indeed, within the past year there have been at least three different Net Neutrality bills wending their way through the Federal system, all at once.
Then we have the laws that would ban anonymous forum posting, such as the anonymous forum posting law proposed in New Jersey. And, actually, it’s already a Federal crime to use the internet to “to post or email any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other communication which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent, with the intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass another person.” Married couples around the country violate this law on a daily basis.
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On top of this, we have laws in the works that would require online dating sites to perform background checks of their users, laws that would require ISPs to rat out their users by forwarding to a central agency any and all images – even drawings and cartoons – of children if the image could be considered inappropriate, even if the children don’t actually exist in real life, and laws that would make having unsecured wifi a crime.
Now we have several states looking at passing anti-cyber bullying legislation. Yes, you read that right.
Now, I’m the first one to say that bullying is completely wrong. It’s very wrong, and at school you can be suspended for it (although perhaps not often enough). But it’s not illegal. It’s not illegal on the playground; it’s not illegal in the locker room; it’s not illegal in the girls or boys bathroom. Why should it be illegal on the Internet?
Said Senator John Tassoni, who is pushing a cyber bullying law in his home state of Rhode Island, “The kids are forcing our hands to do something legislatively.”
Other states seem to agree. Arkansas recently passed a law requiring schools to address cyber bullying.
South Carolina has a law that also mandates that school districts address cyberbullying.
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Oregon is right now looking at a law requiring all school districts to put into place strict policies against cyber bullying.
Of course, cyberbullying does not primarily occur during school. At least, not if you are keeping children otherwise occupied.
But that isn’t stopping the legislators and states from passing laws attempting to further regulate Internet conduct.
Let’s see… network neutrality, laws requiring dating sites to perform background checks and ISPs to rat out their users and banning anonymous posting, and cyber bullying legislation.
Welcome to the era of the Nanny Internet.
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