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"Community Conscious" Internet Service Providers

Tennessee has a proposal to create a “Tennessee community conscious Internet provider” seal to be awarded by the consumer affairs Badgedivision. A bill introduced in the Tennessee General Assembly – HB 2530 – would award a seal to ISPs that:

1) retain IP addresses for 2 years;

2) take down communications that are obscene or harmful to minors;

3) prohibit customers from publishing communications obscene or harmful to minors; and

4) comply and cooperate with law enforcement requests and court orders.

Granted, Tennessee is the “volunteer state”, but if this bill were to pass would ISPs really participate?

Note how the bill links “obscenity” – which is not protected speech under the 1st Amendment – with material harmful to minors –  which could be almost anything, most of which would be protected speech.

This is a trend we’re seeing–using child porn and child online safety as a “trojan horse” into regulating the online behavior of everybody through rules on ISPs. Adam Thierer calls it “deputizing the middleman” — an apt phrase for the kinds of policing that ISPs may be doing in the future based on the regulatory and market pressures they’re seeing today.

Hawaii has a bill pending that would make it a felony for ISPs to knowingly fail to report subscribers who acquire, possess, solicit or transmit images of child pornography.

Forget a “seal of approval” – may as well just throw ISPs a badge.