By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Could Satantrek have been a hoax? Was the site crushed by Star Trek franchise owner Paramount Studios, which is notoriously lacking in any sense of humor about Trek portrayals? A Star Trek publicist declined comment.
From where we sit, the Church of the Mighty Lamb looks like the Church of the Mighty Scam — but only Pastor Smith, and God, know for sure. And they ain’t talking.
public e-enemy no. 1?
If Senator John McCain’s New Hampshire pitch relied on innocuous ideas like
campaign-finance reform and military pay, in South Carolina last Saturday his shtick was anti-abortion and what he calls his “veritable crusade” against kids’ access to Internet pornography.
To be sure, McCain needed to put on his most hard-right face to counter George W. Bush’s more-conservative-than-thou attack. But at least in the case of Internet censorship, McCain wasn’t just whistling Dixie. For several years, the senator has been pushing for Internet filtering in public libraries and schools. “The leading voice of filtering and blocking legislation in the current Congress,” ACLU associate director Barry Steinhardt calls McCain.
McCain’s original bill, S.1619, also known as “The Internet School Filtering Act,” died in the Commerce Committee. Undaunted, McCain re-introduced essentially the same bill last year as S.97, renamed “The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).” Co-sponsored by that champion of free speech and open-mindedness, Jesse Helms, CIPA requires public libraries, elementary schools and secondary schools to “filter or block access to material that is obscene and to child pornography.” Institutions that do not comply forfeit their federal e-rate funds, which subsidize Internet wiring.
The ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) are troubled by the technical shortcomings of filtering software. Says Steinhardt, “Not only do they block material that is legally obscene, but also perfectly innocent material.”
In 1998, the ACLU successfully represented a group of Web authors whose sites were blocked by Loudoun County, Va.’s use of a filtering package called “X-Stop” in libraries. Among the censored Web-page topics: safe-sex education, books for gay and lesbian teens and the American Association of University Women in Maryland.
McCain staffer David Crane insists filtering technology has vastly improved. “All of the major companies provide menus to their customers that allow them to go through and say, ‘We want to block out drug information, hate speech, violent content, pornography, what have you,’” he says.
“That’s putting way too much faith in the technology,” responds EFF strategic-initiative director Alex Fowler. “With the Internet, you’re talking about a global medium in which you have content in dozens of different languages. There’s no technology that allows the user to have such nuanced control.”
While hardly liberal on Internet filtering, McCain’s opponents stop short of his extreme solutions. Vice President Al Gore has proposed that e-rate schools and libraries “come up with [their] own plan for protecting children from objectionable Internet content.” Even Bush, who has “no problem” with sledgehammer fixes like the TV V-chip, has called for parental, rather than government, controls.