Since today is a big day, as far as Supreme Court decisions coming out, it’s only fitting that I hit a couple of legal questions.
First, the Supremes did rule that libraries can be forced to use internet filters. Now, personally, I hoped for something better, but thought this would come out this way. (Of course I’m not a legal expert or anything, just a somewhat educated citizen..)The legality of the issue was always going to get caught up in the fact that libraries do choose what to have available and what not to have available in every other media format, so why not make it mandatory to do so with the internet as well? That, I think, is the legal argument that anti-filter forces can’t get around. On the other hand, while it may be constitutional, clearly this is an example of bad law, because filters simply don’t do what they are intended to do very well, and wind up blocking quite a few legitimate information sources.
My guess is the first time a child who is being molested at home and goes to a Public library only to find that he/she can’t access any websites with information about escaping an abusive home because of “keyword” filters, and then she winds up a front page story as either a runaway, or a child death, will be when some serious consideration is given to rewriting the law in the Congress. Unfortunately, current social opinion is that we need to keep pornography from kids at any cost. I don’t think they really think about what the costs might be. Hopefully we never find out.
Secondly, this post about wiretapping laws and recording devices being used in public places is interesting in light of the Dave Matthews concert last week. Dave has a standard policy that anyone can record his live concerts, so there were people at the show with some seriously heavy-duty recording equipment. On top of that, there were plenty of people using their cell phones to let their friends listen in on their favorite songs, etc. On the other hand, no cameras were allowed in at all. I’m betting there were more than 1 cell-phone camera combo’s on hand. My question is, what are the legal complications that are going to come about from all of this mess? Is making a call on your cell during a concert going to be illegal recording of a live event? If you’re given permission to record the event and your equipment picks up random people talking in the audience have you committed an invasion of privacy, or wiretap violation? What if you record their end of a cellphone conversation? If your phone has a cam built in will you have to forfeit it at the gate? Will taking a cell phone that belongs to parents who gave it to their sitter as an emergency number put the venue at legal risk? Or will all of this be written off under the “if you’re in public there is no expectation of privacy”. So whatever is recorded by whomever is fair game then, right? Then why can’t you bring recording devices or cameras into a typical show? There’s going to be some legal cases in this area, don’t you think?
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