Pennsylvania Law Requires ISPs to Block Child Porn

Found this over on Slashdot, which points to a article over on Salon, and thought it was worth posting.

Starting next month, Internet service providers with customers in Pennsylvania will be legally responsible for blocking access to child pornography. The law, with maximum penalties including prison time for repeat offenders, is believed to be the first of its kind.

But by putting the onus on the state attorney general's office to notify ISPs of what should be blocked, the law is expected to have limited success.

"This is a community that already knows it is on the edges of legality and as a result, they don't do things to bring attention to themselves," said Chris Hunter, a free-speech researcher at the University of Pennsylvania.

Under the law, signed last month, prosecutors would, after obtaining a court order, give ISPs a list of Web sites and other items to block. "There's probably more out there than anybody knows, but this probably won't be an effective way of doing anything about it," said John Philip Jenkins, a Penn State professor who has researched Internet pornography issues.

The law carries penalties of $5,000 for the first offense and $20,000 for the second. After that, violators are subject to fines of $30,000 and up to seven years imprisonment.

But ISPs consider the law impractical from a technical standpoint. The law does not require ISPs to actively monitor their service -- only to block specific sites or services when notified. But more technically astute users can often bypass blocks by using so-called proxy services. And while some ISPs now market themselves as "family friendly," they often do so by restricting access to legitimate sites as well.

News source: Salon

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