*update* Millions of commercial Web sites and personal blogs would be required to report illegal images or videos posted by their users or pay fines of up to $300,000, if a new proposal in the U.S. Senate came into law.
The legislation, drafted by Sen. John McCain and obtained by CNET News.com, would also require Web sites that offer user profiles to delete pages posted by sex offenders.
In a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, the Arizona Republican and former presidential candidate warned that "technology has contributed to the greater distribution and availability, and, some believe, desire for child pornography." McCain scored 31 of 100 points on a News.com 2006 election guide scoring technology-related votes.
After child pornography or some forms of "obscenity" are found and reported, the Web site must retain any "information relating to the facts or circumstances" of the incident for at least six months. Webmasters would be immune from civil and criminal liability if they followed the specified procedures exactly.
McCain's proposal, called the "Stop the Online Exploitation of Our Children Act" (click for PDF), requires that reports be submitted to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which in turn will forward them to the relevant police agency. (The organization received $32.6 million in tax dollars in 2005, according to its financial disclosure documents.)
Internet service providers already must follow those reporting requirements. But McCain's proposal is liable to be controversial because it levies the same regulatory scheme--and even stiffer penalties--on even individual bloggers who offer discussion areas on their Web sites.
"I am concerned that there is a slippery slope here," said Kevin Bankston, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. "Once you start creating categories of industries that must report suspicious or criminal behavior, when does that stop?"
Senator John McCain is evil and must be voted out of office at the earliest opportunity. And if Arizona Republicans don't have sense enough to elect someone else, I may just have to pony up some money for his Democratic challenger.
I tell you now, with the Google Cache as my witness, if McCain becomes the Republican nominee, I'll donate money to his Democratic opponent, I'll even man the phones at the nearest Moveon.org phonebank at least once during the campaign...unless that person has supported this piece of legislation. (/rant)