United States Senate Considers Mandatory Web Labeling For Sexually Explicit Sites

The United States Senate is considering a piece of legislation that would increase fines and prison sentences for those who fail to label their websites as sexually explicit. The proposed legislation, whose formal title is the Stop Adults' Facilitation of the Exploitation of Youth Act, also popularly called the Internet SAFETY Act, seeks to increase the penalties suggested by the United States Department of Justice. The Internet Safety Act proposes penalties for operators of sexually explicit sites that fail to place “clearly identifiable marks or notices” in the site’s coding or on the site itself. Violators would face substantial prison time and fines above and beyond the five year prison sentence suggested in the original Justice Department proposal. The bill would also create a new crime out of "using misleading domain names to direct children to harmful material on the Internet." Attorney General Alberto Gonzales originally called for the new laws while speaking at an event at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in April. He said a mandatory rating system is necessary to "prevent people from inadvertently stumbling across pornographic images on the Internet." The Internet SAFETY Act was proposed by a group of 9 Republican legislators as a response to what many experts feel is a growing level of abuse and exploitation of children through the Internet. Already, laws are being considered by Congress to require long term data retention by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as a means of tracking and prosecuting violators, though no such measure has been included in the Internet SAFETY Act.

The following questions have been addressed in this article:

What sort of fines and jail time could an offender face?
What are the concerns of the critics of the Internet SAFETY Act?

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