That’s not technically correct, but it might as well be.
The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill saying that anyone offering an open Wi-Fi connection to the public must report illegal images including “obscene” cartoons and drawings–or face fines of up to $300,000.
That broad definition would cover individuals, coffee shops, libraries, hotels, and even some government agencies that provide Wi-Fi. It also sweeps in social-networking sites, domain name registrars, Internet service providers, and e-mail service providers such as Hotmail and Gmail, and it may require that the complete contents of the user’s account be retained for subsequent police inspection.
Here’s the reason…
Allen said the legislation–called the Securing Adolescents From Exploitation-Online Act, or SAFE Act–will “ensure better reporting, investigation, and prosecution of those who use the Internet to distribute images of illegal child pornography.”
First off, this seems pretty much unenforceable, but I’m sure the federal government will find a way. They always do, regardless of what rights they’re violating. Second, and most importantly, what business is going to want to offer free Wi-Fi if they could get fined by the government for $300,000 because some criminal used their connection for illegal activities? Answer: none. Goodbye free Wi-Fi. It was nice knowing you.
This is just bad law. No two ways about it. You don’t punish the millions for the sins of the few.
By the way, this passed 409 to 2, and Ron Paul voted against it. Good for him.