How age and PICS ratings may go down...

Apache apache at
Mon Aug 4 11:05:29 PDT 1997

    Tim May said:

>One way "voluntary" age ratings--very similar to PICS ratings--may be
>mandated is through the kind of "plea agreement" cited below. (I don't
>know if this site is real or not, but the post presents a scenario which
>will become more common, I think.)

In more controlled countries such as Australia which has no
constitutional protections to slow down the removal of individual
freedoms and rights (I won't go into discussion here that we actually
do have such protections inhereted from ancient British law dating
from first settlement, and in any case such arguments are ignored by
the government goons) the scenario is already common and perhaps even
the norm.

>Someone writes something, or has a site, and is busted for some charge.
>(There are many, even with what remains of the First Amendment. Child
>porn, obscenity, the new copyright laws, the Anti-Terrorism Act, etc.) A
>nolo contendre or guilty plea to a lesser charge is entered, with the
>agreement that an age verification system will be used, or a PICS rating,
>etc. And so the government gets the kind of censorship it wants.

Here in Australia this bargaining process has been pre-empted by the
traitors in parliament and in the recent report which mandates
"voluntary" labeling they give you a possible out to charges of having
rude pics, unsuitable language or whatever is the flavour of the week,
passing through your server specified in their version of a voluntary
(mandatory) code. As Irene states in her excellent page on the subject

"Draft legislative proposals have suggested content providers may have
a defense against provision of restricted material to minors by taking
reasonable steps to prevent availability of same. It has been
intimated that labeling may a defense of good intent and content
providers may label material in the hope of having a defense. In fact,
in terms of labeling, a clearer indication of good intent would be
not to label material, thus ensuring it was not made available to
those using properly configured filtering software." 

>(Duncan will likely argue that this is impossible to enforce. Maybe in the
>limit, in the sense that some will fall through the cracks. But the
>dangers to anyone hosting words or pictures on their sites is very real.
>As more and more ISPs drop controversial material--think of several recent
>cases, and perhaps even the case of our own John Young--and as more child
>porn/celebrity nude/obscenity cases are the time the Thomases
>are both out of prison, most sites will likely be heavily editing
>themselves, imposing age limits, and using PICS ratings.)

Many service providers, attempting to stay afloat here, already have
such editing/age and other limits. Here is an extract of the first ISP
contract I examined after reading your post (these conditions appear
to be fairly standard) - Note especially cl4.2 prohibiting access to
"offensive" material which is not defined and would on the face of it
encompass any material, not just rude pictures, that may be offensive
to..well to who knows..:

[See: and note the proudly displayed "We rated
with RSACi" logo on the lead page."

"4. Compliance with Laws and other Conditions of Use  

4.1 The Subscriber acknowledges that use of the Data, Databases,
System and Services may from time to time be subject to certain legal
regulations, conditions (including any license conditions) and
restrictions. The Subscriber shall ascertain and comply with such
regulations, conditions (including any license conditions) or
restrictions including but not limited to those laid down by the
Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) and the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth).   

4.2 Without limiting clause 4.1, the Subscriber and each User shall
not send, access or download any Data which is offensive, defamatory
or which to the Subscriber's or User's knowledge contains any computer
virus or has not been classified or approved in accordance with any
applicable censorship or other laws.   

4.3 Without limiting clause 4.1, the Subscriber and each User shall
not, without proper authorisation, use the System or Services to gain
access to information in a restricted access computer system or to use
a restricted access computer system, or use the System or Services to
contribute to or aid the commission of a crime or to infringe the
rights of a third party."

Furthermore a duty is placed on the _subscriber_ to notify the
provider of the existence of certain material, including the existence
of "offensive" material, computer virii etc. Failure to so notify the
provider may cause you problems if a later search of your hardware or
a search of the providers temp files reveals you accessed such
information. No consulting fees are provided for in the agreement for
the subscribers time and expense providing such valuable data:

"8.1 The Subscriber shall notify the Company immediately upon becoming
aware of: any infringement of any third party's intellectual property
rights as a result of information being made available on a Database
or by use of the System or Services, the existence of any data, code,
program or other material of the kind referred to in clause 4.2 or any
use of the System or Software (by the Subscriber or any other person)
which may infringe clause 4.3."

It would be an interesting exercise to take out an account and
actually "immediately notify the Company" of such material. In just a
few hours of work a flood of material could be presented meeting such
a lose definition. Indeed a scan of my netscape cache for the last
couple of weeks would probably be enough to get me a free trip
downtown to visit the local goons with expensive court proceedings
required to attempt to avoid criminal sanctions for rather innocuous
web browsing habits. For an example where there was no evidence at all
against the subscriber but the cops performed a dawn raid on an
unsuspecting student (who was 14 months later found completely
innocent) based on the word of the ISP who was actively browsing
temporary files on the ISP's computer see: It appears now
the student, who suffered immense financial as well as emotional
strain was merely a 'test case' to see how the new (a mere few days
old) net censorship laws would work. No doubt his sacrifice was for
the greater good of us all and to protect the leetle chiiiildren.

What amazes me is the time and money the traitors are prepared to
invest in attempting to prosecute such harmless activity performed in
one's own home. The fact that they are willing to do this indicates
the level of threat we all face from this scum and the level of
response that will be called for to surgically remove this cancer from
our respective countries. The threat in this country is far greater
than many might suspect in other jurisdictions as we are not schooled
in the writings of revolutionaries and early American presidents and
have no national psychosis of revolt nor any constitutional
guarantees (I know even these in the US are being subverted or
attacked but without them it's pretty grim). As can be seen from the
contract already referred to corporations are only too willing to lick
the rim the feeds them as they see no financial gain in attempting to
go against the flow. Indeed such a corporation would, with monopoly
control of telecommunications in Australia, quickly find itself

The only conclusion I can draw is that our government and their
bedmates are very worried that people, through the internet, have the
ability to say (for now but not for long) what they wish about that
government, about anything and get that message out to many people
almost instantaneously. This must be of great concern to control
freaks and those who steal money and other assets with force. It has
always been that way.

Howard Rheingold states in Democracy is About Communication:

"The threat of uncontrollable communications among citizens, not the
pornographic pictures or taboo words that a tiny portion of the online
population publish, is why freedom of expression is under attack.
'Decency' is a smokescreen. It's about power." and "Communication is
Political": "Porno on the Net is a sideshow. The main event, taking
place far from the spotlight, is about who will control and profit
from the new industry that network communication technology makes

Clearly in Australia the bureaucrats at the ABA hope to be a key body
to write their own ticket in this, to them, brave new world. The utter
cluelessness of the government and the ABA can be seen in an earlier
report released in 1996 which is good reading for a laugh where the
ABA clearly has difficulty coming to terms with the difference between
BBS, which until recently was the bogey man the government focused
on, and the net. See: Report on the Investigation into the Content of
On-Line Services dated 30 June 1996 

On age limits:

"14.3 The Subscriber must be a legal person. Any minor seeking access
must do so as a User of a Subscriber's account.  Supervision of such a
User shall be the responsibility of a Parent or Guardian of the minor."

Of course if the parent in question was supervising the minor then the
proposed censorship laws about to go before parliament that will limit
the ability of Australian _adults_ to access information would not be
required (I liked a previous description of this concept in another
article which described it as an "infantocracy").

"You have the rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that
cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the
Great Legislator of the Universe."
..John Adams, Second President of the United States.

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