New Law Would Force Bloggers to Constantly Monitor Outbound Links

Posted on May 17, 2006

A new law proposed by Wisconsin Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner will basically force ISPs to keep a log of people's websurfing activity for a "reasonable amount of time." In addition the law would make bloggers responsible for any links on their sites that send people to a child pornography website. Bloggers could be charged with a felony if their blog was found to "facilitate access to child pornography" through hyperlinks.

CNET reports that "Sensenbrenner's legislation--expected to be announced as early as this week--also would create a federal felony targeted at bloggers, search engines, e-mail service providers and many other Web sites. It's aimed at any site that might have 'reason to believe' it facilitates access to child pornography--through hyperlinks or a discussion forum, for instance."

One major flaw with this law -- other than the obvious invasion of privacy problems -- is that links can change. A blogger can point to a site and that site can later change and become an offensive website -- this usually occurs when the site is abandoned and the domain name is re-registered by someone who redirects the domain name to a pornography website.

A second problem is a blog could receive comment spam that contains links to child pornography or links to another site that then links to a child pornography site. This law could force bloggers to stop allowing links on comments, moderate all of their comments or simply terminate comments. The law follows the recently proposed and overly restrictive DOPA bill that would ban minors' access to blogging services, IMs and social networks at schools public libraries.

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