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2257---What The Hell Is That?


Lucky
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There has been some controversy here about the banning of sexual images, especially penises. Some wonder why a gay male website can't show dick, while at the same time others show lots of it.

 

It seems different webmasters are taking different attitudes towards the law known as 2257 intendeed to "protect" children. It imposes cumbersome burdens on the website to maintain records and it imposes fines that the website has to pay...not us, the free-viewing public.

 

I got most of my info from the National Gay Lesbian Task Force and print here their recommendations:

 

The federal government is proposing regulations that would effectively kill adult social-networking sites. This is being done under the guise of fighting child pornography. You have until September 10 to object to these regulations. It’s easy to do and essential. A sample e-mail comment is at the bottom of this page. Please forward this information to your friends!

 

What’s the Deal?

The Department of Justice is proposing regulations to implement a federal law designed to combat child pornography, known as Section 2257. The law was first enacted in 1998 and was amended in 2006 and significantly expanded to include regulation of the Internet.

 

While many of the regulations pertain to companies that produce adult entertainment magazines and videos (and are extremely burdensome), they would also affect anyone who uses an adult social-networking site. Here’s how:

 

The regulations would require the people running a site to get and maintain personal information from every user (that means you) who posts a “sexually explicit” photo, including your photo ID (driver’s license, passport, or military ID).

The regulations would allow the Attorney General to conduct warrantless searches at will on the sites’ records, including your personal information.

There are few safeguards over what the FBI can do with the information it obtains.

If a site operator fails to comply with the regulations, he or she would face a prison sentence of up to 5 years.

For more detailed information on Sec. 2257, go to http://www.thetaskforce.org/downloads/misc/2257_fact_sheet.pdf.

Obviously, none of this has anything to do with child pornography. Instead, it is a blatant attempt to end the ability of consenting adults to use adult social-networking sites to meet other people for sex. Obviously, if these regulations go into effect, they will kill this industry.

 

What You Can Do

The Department of Justice has published these proposed regulations and the public has until September 10 to comment on them.

 

We need to generate thousands of comments objecting to the proposed regulations – and it’s easy to do via e-mail. Just follow the instructions below.

 

Why We’re Involved

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc. is involved in this fight because we believe sexual freedom is a fundamental human right and we don’t think the government has any place in relations between consenting adults. These regulations are part of our government’s hypocritical and punitive views about sex, sexuality, and reproductive rights. All of this – from abstinence-only sex education programs to the elimination of funding for accurate and explicit HIV prevention programs – fall hardest on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

 

For more information about the organizing, advocacy, and public education work of the Task Force, visit http://www.thetaskforce.org.

 

Take Action Now

Here is a sample letter with the e-mail address you need to send it to (Admin.ceos@usdoj.gov) and the subject you must include in the subject line of your e-mail (Section 2257 Docket No. CRM 104).

 

Please also consider a contribution to keep this advocacy work going.

 

 

 

 

Sample Letter

To: Admin.ceos@usdoj.gov

Re: Section 2257 Docket No. CRM 104

 

 

To the U.S. Department of Justice:

 

 

I am writing to object to the proposed “Section 2257” regulations.

 

These regulations are complicated and burdensome on legitimate businesses, and have very little to do with protecting children and minors from pornography. Their reach — particularly into adult social-networking internet services — is overbroad, unnecessary, and would allow the federal government to search and seize personal records of adult consumers without a warrant; a clear violation privacy and constitutional rights.

 

Specifically, I object to the following provisions:

 

1. The regulations (18 § 2257(b)(1) and ©) would force adult social-networking services to obtain and maintain personal information about their users, including the user's photo ID (driver’s license, passport, or military ID). (I must note that the sites already require users to affirm that they are over 18 years of age.) Many sites have tens of thousands of users and it is simply not possible for them to do this. Moreover, many people who use these sites want to maintain their privacy, for any number of reasons, including the sad fact that they might face discrimination and/or violence if others found out they were using these sites. It is still legal in 31 states to discriminate against someone who is gay or bisexual, and in 41 states if the person is transgender. The combination of the recordkeeping requirements and many users’ fears about providing such information will kill the entire industry.

 

All of this is overkill given that adult social networking sites were not identified as a problem in the production, distribution and downloading of child pornography in the Department of Justice’s own report on “Child Pornography on the Internet” (May 2006).

 

2. The regulations (18 § 2257(g) and under 28 C.F.R. § 75.5) would allow the Attorney General to conduct unannounced warrantless searches at will on the sites’ records, including reviewing and presumably seizing the personal information on site users. This is an egregious abuse of government authority, an unwarranted invasion of privacy and, in my opinion, a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

 

3. The regulations (28 C.F.R. § 75.5(4)) provide insufficient safeguards over what the government can do with the information it obtains through its searches. This, by itself, has a chilling effect on the ability of people to engage in constitutionally protected activities. As noted above, this is particularly dangerous for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

 

Let me be clear: I believe children need to be protected from coercion into pornography and it is important for the federal government to do all that it can to insure those protections. Sadly, many of the provisions of the proposed 2257 regulations do nothing to address child pornography, but instead are clearly aiming at destroying an industry and ending a legal and valuable way for adults to meet one another.

 

Sincerely, (your name)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

©2007 National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Foundation and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc.

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Yes. We need you on our list of foreign adversaries who pose a direct threat to our liberties by wishing to view the American penis in a naked format.

 

Seriously, the DOJ is not about to settle in and determnie where those emails are coming from because there isn't much doubt that they won't even look at them. What they might do is count them. If there is a huge enough number that make them think they could fall on their electoral asses, then something might be done.

 

But that's what it has always been about. The more noise you make, the more chance you get heard.

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>The regulations would require the people running a site to get

>and maintain personal information from every user (that means

>you) who posts a “sexually explicit” photo, including your

>photo ID (driver’s license, passport, or military ID).

 

This is slightly simplified and covers more than the "you" they address. ID is required to be on file for ANY PERSON PICTURED in these images. So if you post an image of yourself getting your groove on at a street fair, the website is required to have ID on file for EACH INDIVIDUAL IN THE PICTURE. If you post an image of your favorite escort, the website needs *HIS* ID on file.

 

At least they relented on the requirement that the ID be issued by the US Government. For a time there, porn companies couldn't use foreign models!

 

>The regulations would allow the Attorney General to conduct

>warrantless searches at will on the sites’ records, including

>your personal information.

 

The reality is it allows them to shut down any site they don't like.

 

>What You Can Do

>The Department of Justice has published these proposed

>regulations and the public has until September 10 to comment

>on them.

>

>We need to generate thousands of comments objecting to the

>proposed regulations – and it’s easy to do via e-mail. Just

>follow the instructions below.

 

The rest of this is targeted at individuals. If any of you are running a business where this may impose an undue burden, put you out of business, or prevent you from opening a business, the Free Speech Coalition gives guidelines here, including costs to include in forecasting the real impact:

 

http://www.freespeechcoalition.com/FSCView.asp?action=preview&coid=1073

 

(They'll even help you write your letter.)

 

This is real, folks.

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Deej and I are in agreement on this one. It is important. It also means that we won't be able to go to Manhunt and similar sites and see pix of naked dick.

 

Manhunt has pinned the Task Force's note to the top. Perhaps it is important enough to pin here as well, but given the minimal response to this thread, maybe not.

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I don't think anyone really cares, until it becomes final and then they'll wonder where all their favorite websites went. <sigh>

 

Here's a letter the Free Speech Coalition sent to members today. Their offer for help is extended only to FSC members, but it gives you an idea what kinds of help is needed.

 


 

Dear FSC Members,

 

Just a reminder, there are only a few days left to participate in DOJ's public comment period for the proposed 2257 rules and regulations. The Department of Justice will accept comments through September 10, 2007.

 

To comment, we suggest any of the following three options:

 

FSC will assist you in writing your statement for public comments - Email FSC at legal@freespeechcoalition.com, tell us about the burdens that 2257 imposes on your business. We will compile your comments into a document ready for submission and send it back to you with instructions on how to submit. FSC must receive the email by no later than Sunday, September 9, 12:00 p.m. (PST)..

 

Sign on to a group statement prepared by FSC, representing concerned members of the adult entertainment industry (see below). Email us at legal@freespeechcoalition.com and tell us that you would like to sign on to the 2257 proposed Rules and Regulations statement and we will add your company's name and/or your own to the list.

 

Submit your own statement for public comment :

Comments may be submitted electronically to: Admin.ceos@usdoj.gov or by using the electronic form provided on the DOJ website at http://www.regulations.gov .

 

NOTE: Comments submitted electronically must include Docket No. CRM 104 in the subject box.

 

Please help FSC by being a change agent in partnership with us to positively affect these onerous 2257 proposed Rules & Regulations.

 

Thank you for your help,

Diane Duke

FSC Executive Director

 

Industry Statement for 2257 Public Comment Period With regard to the proposed rules and regulations for 18 U.S.C. section 2257, the undersigned members of the adult entertainment industry would like to voice our concern.

 

The proposed rules and regulations in support of 2257 issued on July 12, 2007, will cause considerable burden, both financially and logistically, to the adult entertainment industry. This burden is so onerous that it would force many small companies completely out of business. For those able to stay in business, the proposed 2257 would severely diminish their ability to succeed.

 

The cost to collect and maintain 2257 records, as suggested by the DOJ in its proposed rules and regulations, is astronomical to businesses in the industry, both large and small. Staffing costs to collect records, assure proper documentation and filing processes, updates and maintenance, including cross-referencing requirements are excessive. For larger businesses this record keeping requires new, well-trained staff of a dozen or more plus supervisory personnel to comply. For smaller businesses, hiring additional staff is not an option. Many of the industry's small businesses are one- to two-person operations with a profit margin so thin that the additional expense of record-keeping staff would make the difference between the business being viable and incurring a net loss; thus, eventually causing the business to close.

 

Due to the complexity of 2257's regulations and record-keeping requirements, adult businesses require expensive attorney services to assure compliance and mitigate their risk of 2257 violations. Some larger companies have staff attorneys who do nothing but oversee 2257 record-keeping and compliance. Smaller businesses keep attorneys on retainer and pay for their services from time to time to audit their 2257 records for compliance. Some businesses that cannot afford an attorney do their best to comply with their understanding of the law. Attorney fees for 2257 compliance add a great deal of expense to the cost of operation of an adult business, again cutting into these businesses' net profit - often resulting in a net loss and/or eventual closure. All of the aforementioned businesses live with the added stress of this restrictive law potentially imposing prison time for inadvertently misfiled or misplaced records.

 

Some businesses in the industry are associated with thousands of websites. Some are responsible for literally millions of individual pieces of content. Besides the expense of gathering and maintaining the records, the storage for that quantity of materials is nearly impossible to fathom. Many small adult business owners work out of their homes and do not have the space to store the quantity of records required to comply with 2257. Renting storage space adds additional expense and poses the problem of non-compliance as the records are to be available at the "place of business" when the compliance officer is present.

 

A number of adult businesses have developed and/or purchased software to facilitate compliance. This has proven to be very costly, especially for small businesses. It does nothing to alleviate the previous problems, and, with the proposed regulations requirement of hard copy records, it may prove futile.

 

For small businesses, the requirements for the custodian of records are particularly burdensome. As mentioned previously in this statement, many small business owners of adult entertainment companies work out of their homes. Some have full-time jobs outside of the adult entertainment industry. For adult small business owners, the requirement that the custodian of records be present at the place of business 20 hours a week between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. is unrealistic, often impossible.

 

Business owners who have jobs outside the industry would have to quit those jobs to be present. This means that entrepreneurial start-ups are all but impossible for someone who relies on another income during the start-up phase of their small business.

 

As discussed previously, profit margins are so thin for these businesses that hiring someone for 20 hours/week to wait for a potential FBI inspection is not an option. Conversely, being in non-compliance is not an option either, resulting in the business owner being left in a Catch-22 situation with grave consequences.

 

Moreover, business owners who operate their businesses out of their homes are understandably uncomfortable with the idea of FBI agents conducting an inspection in their home, causing undue neighborhood stigma to them and their families when agents appear. Finally, the requirement to post the address for "custodian of records" on content presents an undue burden on small business owners when, as stated, in many cases the location is the owner's residence. This puts the adult business owner and his/her family at potential personal risk.

 

The proposed requirement that the custodial statement be on every page is excessive and impractical. A reasonable interpretation of HR 4472 would allow a hyperlink on every page rather than the full physical address. The proposed regulation requirement could result in scores or even hundreds of addresses visible on each website page.

 

The statute is limited to recordings. There is no legal justification for requiring webcam operators to record any part of their performances. The Department has no authority to require persons to engage in behavior that they would ordinarily not do, in order to bring webcam operators within the scope of a statute.

 

For "secondary producers" (anyone who does not direct-hire talent or hold the camera, actually producing the original content), the proposed regulations are particularly egregious. "Secondary producers" rarely, if ever, come in contact with the performer in the content they are displaying. It is physically impossible for them to "inspect the original ID" of the performers in their content.

 

Therefore it is literally impossible for secondary producers to comply with the statutory requirement. Secondary producers are reliant on primary producers to ship all documentation to them for record-keeping purposes. They are also reliant on the primary producers for initial compliance, yet they have no ability to know if the primary producer's records are accurate. In this situation, the "secondary producer" is at risk of non-compliance, despite having done everything within his/her ability to comply. As mentioned before, some webmasters have thousands of sites and millions of pieces of content; therefore, the mere shipping of these materials would prove cost-prohibitive, both for primary and secondary producers, not to mention the added staff needed for shipping and receiving.

 

We urge the Department to make the rules non-retroactive. No image should be required to be compliant unless it was recorded after the effective date of the regulations. How can a "secondary producer" be expected to know what records to acquire and in what condition to maintain them until the rules are final? What if in the rule-making process, the provision allowing edited identification (eliminating unnecessary personal data) is changed? How can a "secondary producer" rely upon and make significant economic decisions about content acquisition without knowing what the rules are?

 

Even limiting implementation retroactivity to July 27, 2006, would be immensely burdensome to many producers. Producers who in good faith acquired or who will acquire content after July 27, 2006, must now go back and acquire additional documentation or face the loss of that content, resulting in yet another undue financial burden on these businesses.

 

During the previous public comment period for proposed 2257 regulations, the Free Speech Coalition recommended an alternative to the onerous record-keeping requirements proposed by the current and proposed regulations. In this plan, for-profit, third party keepers of records accredited by the government would keep performer information updated and maintained to government standards. Performers would register with a third party keeper of records, performer records would be kept safe, the government would have access to the records when necessary and the adult businesses would be responsible for listing where the performer's records were on file. This alternative would allow businesses to comply without producing the record-keeping nightmare present with the proposed 2257 regulations and inspection regime.

 

As we understand it, the purpose of 2257 is to ensure that underage performers are not being used in adult entertainment productions. The adult entertainment industry has no interest in using underage performers in its productions and, to that extent, has no conflict with a law that is designed to monitor performer ages within the industry.

 

However, the proposed 2257 regulations do nothing more than create an insurmountable bureaucracy, spending millions of dollars of government resources on the problem of underage performers in the adult industry which adult entertainment businesses already screen out. Furthermore, as proposed, 2257 effectively dismantles small business models within the industry as well as seriously compromises the profits of many of the industry's larger businesses. We ask that you consider the burdens addressed in this statement and revise the proposed regulations accordingly in order to avoid devastating a vital, responsible, and legal industry.

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Guest zipperzone

I don't want to undermine the seriousness of these posts and I think I understand the consequences if 2257 becomes law. But.....

 

What would prevent the sites from moving off-shore and thumbing their collective noses at the US government.

 

The escorts could still advertise, pictures could still be posted. Am I wrong here?

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You may be right but moving offshore is probably easier said than done for many "pop and mom" websites. I remember when the late HooBoy used to travel around the world with his computers and there were numerous screwups (admittedly some were his own fault like leaving laptops in taxis, etc). Still, the logistics involved do complicate the "offshore" scenario, I would think.

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Guest zipperzone

>You may be right but moving offshore is probably easier said

>than done for many "pop and mom" websites. I remember when the

>late HooBoy used to travel around the world with his computers

>and there were numerous screwups (admittedly some were his own

>fault like leaving laptops in taxis, etc). Still, the

>logistics involved do complicate the "offshore" scenario, I

>would think.

 

While it might get cause some of the little guys to close up shop, I would think that the larger enterprises might find it a viable option. Perhaps its just wishful thinking on my part, but anything that could screw up Big Government gets my vote.

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Thank-you Lucky!

 

The proposed 2257 regulations in my opinion represent one of the largest attempts by the Federal Government to infringe on our 1st amendment rights.

 

For those of your that are uncomfortable sending an email directly, you can support the Free Speech Coalition's Statement at http://www.freespeechcoalition.com/

 

Best Regards, Daddy

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Zipperzone,

 

Unfortunately for a lot of Websites (especially for new Web sites) the cost of going offshore is prohibitive.

 

Hooboy's and now Daddys's have been heavily subsidized by our ISP since 1990 because I'm a part owner of the ISP. The fact that I can do 100% of the hardware and software maintenance (I live within driving distance of the computers) is a major factor that keeps the costs to a minimum.

 

Regards, Daddy

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Thanks, Anton, for sending along the message. Unfortunately you are now on a list, kept personally by Chief Justice John Roberts, of foreigners wanting to tell the US government what to do about penises. Fear not, though, these bad guys will soon be out of office. Well, except maybe Roberts, he has a lifetime appointment!

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>What would prevent the sites from moving off-shore and

>thumbing their collective noses at the US government.

 

Its been tried before, and the courts were not impressed. (Wish I could find the reference, but I can't.)

 

If you truly want to offshore the website, you also have to offshore the personnel and the entire business, particularly banking. Everything has to move.

 

If you live in the US, work in the US, hire talent in the US, accept advertising in the US, sell membership in the US, or otherwise conduct commerce in the US it doesn't matter where your site is hosted. You're a US business and subject to US laws.

 

It's far better to stay home and FIGHT THIS DAMN STUPIDITY, in my opinion.

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I would say that the situation related to online gambling is a somewhat good example of this situation. Even though the sites are not operated in the US the owners of two sites were arrested under state and federal charges.

 

If I recall correctly one was the CEO of a British company operating sites in the Caribbean taking bets from US clients. Of course this action has not put an end to online gambling but it certainly made the companies less profitable. The stocks of these companies crashed when the arrests were made.

 

The US laws are very broad related to online gambling which gives the authorities tremendous leeway in excecuting warrants. The 2257 regs appear to be even broader in scope giving the Feds much more harassment power.

 

All the Feds need are a few high profile test cases to make their point. No doubt they are scouring the internet looking for a few operators to prosecute and drive out of business as example to the other operators.

 

Will this put an end to internet porn? Of course not but it will certainly make it harder to do business and less profitable. Raise the cost of doing business for the operators and some of them will choose to shut down.

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