SAFE Bill Makes Me Feel Vulnerable

I’ve read a lot of bellyaching today about the SAFE Act.  Mostly people are worried that free WiFi access will disappear from Starbucks, hotels, bars, bike shops, and airports.

But Ars Technica says:

the bill doesn’t require any active surveillance of user behavior, and it won’t affect your local coffee shop’s WiFi, despite what you may have read.

I think this bill is bad, but not just because I’m worried that free WiFi is going away.   I think it’s bad because it is, well, bad.  If strictly enforced, as some fear it will be, it is invasive.  If not strictly enforced, it is worthless.  Why?  Because it doesn’t actually fix anything.

Proponents of the bill say that it is an effort to curb child pornography.  What a noble cause.  The problem is, that this doesn’t actually address that problem.  It only increases the responsibility of providers to report this activity and increases the penalty on them for not reporting it.  I see this all too often at my job, where this type of thing is called a “countermeasure”.  Very telling.  It doesn’t move towards a solution to a problem, only a reaction to it.

No, this bill doesn’t mention coffee shops and restaurants.  But it doesn’t give them exemption either.  One of the sponsors says the intent of the bill is not to punish mom and pop shops offering WiFi. 

It is NOT the intent of the SAFE Act to target Wi-Fi providers but rather the entities that provide the internet to those conduits. 

Then I’m confused.  Why wasn’t it written clearly enough to express its intent?  And if passed into law, who will decide how should be applied?  My guess is the courts–yet another opportunity for judges to legislate from the bench.

By the way, only two members of the House voted against this Bill.  Guess who was one of them.

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Comments

I used to think that there would be free hotspots everywhere, because it’s good business to provide perks for your visitors, tourists, customers, tenants, … But, the SAFE bill (which I hadn’t heard of) and greed seem to make my dream doomed to fizzle. Cape May is going to make the town a hotspot. Since they charge to use the beach and park, do you think the wifi access will be free? Ha Ha Ha Ha. These guys are so greedy that they’re worried that their big money engine (the new hotspot) will actually cause them to invest some money.

Maybe the tourists should just stay away for a year.

The internet’s version of the war on drugs has officially begun…

Very observant Marty. I’m sure this will just as expensive and effective.

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