Congress Steps Up Fight Against Porn

Fri Mar. 17, 2006 4:25 PM EST

Legislation introduced yesterday by Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Max Baucus (D-MT) would require all "adult websites" to have an .XXX domain, allowing parents more power to censor the internet content of their computers. The bill, called the "Cyber Safety for Kids Act of 2006," specifies that any web "communication" including images, articles, recordings or other "obscene matter," including actual or simulated sexual acts and "lewd exhibition of the genitals or post-pubescent female breast" be categorized under the .XXX domain.

Surprisingly, the bill has generated opposition from the Family Research Council, a Christian conservative organization which argues that the bill would facilitate the proliferation of the porn industry by providing it with its own domain in addition to the "cash cow" of .com sites that the industry will never abandon. The FRC believes porn destroys "marital bonds, and pollutes the minds of child and adult consumers," and would rather see the entire industry totally wiped out, rather than relegated to a specific domain. Meanwhile, The Free Speech Coalition, a "trade organization of the adult entertainment industry," opposes the bill on the grounds that it will "ghettoize content-based speech." Well, maybe they should reconsider the names of their sites, and while they're at it, those horribly offensive pop-ups, if they are feeling sensitive to the potential ghettoization of their brand.

A difficult aspect to the Cyber Safety bill lies in the fact that a significant chunk of the $12 billion dollar internet pornography industry originates off-shore, making it considerably more difficult to regulate. Additionally, the .XXX doesn't do very much to curb the creeps and pedophiles lurking in seemingly benign chat rooms. But the bill would help regulate internet usage in libraries and schools by completely nixing .XXX sites altogether. Clearly this is just a step in the right direction, but parents also need to take a more active role and not turn their thirteen-year-olds loose on the internet.

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