Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wordpress does offer a voluntary age verification scheme that is COPA-like

I’ve notice that Wordpress does offer an age-verification plug-in, although it appears to require honesty on the part of the viewer.  The plugin would ask the visitor to verify her age before viewing content.  This would not have completely satisfied the requirements of COPA (Child Online Protection Act) had it been upheld, because it probably can’t verify age fully.  But even credit card or driver’s license verification is far from foolproof anyway.

The link on Wordpress is here.

It’s a good idea to keep track of the capabilities of service providers to provide voluntary verification and filtering schemes, anyway.  All very libertarian. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

UK requires ISP's to default to filtering adult content, a curious recollection of COPA in the US

Britain, with heavy pressure from the Prime Minister David Cameron, has been requiring ISP’s to turn on porn filtering or adult content filtering as a default option.  Parents have to deliberately turn it off if they want to watch adult material themselves.  This could obviously annoy people who do not have children.
The British independent newspaper reported it here July 22, 2013. 
The concept is interesting, because the effectiveness of filters was an important concept in the COPA trial in the United States (in Philadelphia) in the fall of 2006. 

Friday, October 04, 2013

C.P. concerns can lead to cases where hyperlinks are illegal even without content display

Could linking to a website known to be likely to host child pornography, or particularly linking to a url known to load an illegal image, itself be a crime?
Of course, if one has viewed the image, then one has “possessed” the illegal content and already broken the law.  But what if someone linked to such a url on advice of someone else without ever viewing or loading it?  It sounds like a legally perplexing question, although maybe morally abhorrent behavior. But many states would probably interpret this as "knowingly" distributing illegal content/ 
It’s legally disturbing because making  a hyperlink illegal is always dangerous for the Web free-speech environment.  The issue with respect to copyright law was supposedly settled in 2000, where a judge said that a link was essentially like a bibliographic reference or footnote.  But linking to libelous content has the remote risk of making one a libel defendant oneself.  And the original 1996 Communications Decency Act (the ancestor of COPA and source of today’s Section 230) night have made it a crime to link to indecent materials, in some interpretations.  

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Sometimes opening "phishing" emails could result in prosecution for possession of child pornography

On September 23, 2013 I wrote about a Webroot report on the BKA Trojan that can put child pornography through “drive by” on a user’s home computer, creating a possible legal bind.
Recently, I’ve received repeated spam with spoofed senders saying “You should take a look at this picture” as subject line and attachments.  To open such an attachment (maybe even the email itself with HTML enabled) would possibly create a legal risk of falling under the interpretation of “knowing” possession of c.p., at least as the law might be interpreted in many states, because there is enhanced reasonable suspicion that this is what the content will be.  At the very least, if an “illegal” image appeared (and could get backed up in the user’s Cloud quickly), the user might have to completely destroy the computer or erase the hard drive and all backups. 

Such emails should be marked as spam and not opened.  They stopped, and are not even appearing in the spam folder.  Maybe AOL is screening them before they get to my account and sending them of to NCMEC.