The Communications Decency Act
See also TBTF for 1999-02-01, 1998-12-15, 12-07, 10-27, 10-19, 10-12, 09-14, 07-27, 1997-11-17, 06-30, 03-21, more...
Also on 2/15 John Perry Barlow wrote a Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace. In ringing prose he rejects any role for "meatspace" governments on the Net. Today David Sol Bennahum <davidsol at panix dot com>, author of the newsletter MEME, offers an opposing perspective, one more likely in my view to show us the way out of this forest. Bennahum advances the insight that the Net spans a continuum of communications media from the most public (which will eventually need to be regulated) to the most private (which should remain free). As a Net old-timer, and as an American not completely blind to the resonance Barlow evokes of this country's birth struggle, I sympathize with his plaint that government has no business regulating what it does not comprehend. But I stand with Bennahum in his reasonable call to educate the regulators so that we might eventually and bloodlessly arrive at some workable compromise, which is the mundane glory of democracy.
In the wake of the CDA an offshore Internet service provider has made the first of what I expect to be a minor flood of service offerings directed at U.S. citizens. Vincent Cate <vince at offshore dot com dot ai> from Anguilla offers a $50/month Unix/Web/POP account or an email-only account for $200/year -- see <http://online.offshore.com.ai/>. I would think twice if I were a U.S. citizen intent on going offshore to host a Web site that the CDA might class as "indecent." Could I be prosecuted for transmitting indecent content over a network from Boston to Anguilla as I set up the site? I've read the CDA carefully again and again, and I still can't say for sure.
Anyone on the Net can cause Aqui to capture and repackage my home page. Visit <http://www.aqui.ibm.com/cgi-bin2/fetch/url=http://www.atria.com/~dawson/> and the deed is done -- my home page has been duplicated in some IBM database as <http://www.aqui.ibm.com/cgi-bin2/fetch/url=_1BABK5A83B>, now bearing IBM copyright notices.
Users around the world, named or anonymous, can now make links from my captured home page to any other pages that strike their fancy; others (through Aqui) can see and follow those links. I wrote at the bottom of my page "Copyright, all rights reserved," and the words persist on Aqui's copy. When I post my home page on the Web I expect the world to read it and to forge links to it. The content of my page, including what is linked from it, I expect to be my decision alone. IBM's Aqui takes that decision out of my hands. If that's not copyright violation I don't know what is.
Ka-Ping Yee <kryee at math dot uwaterloo dot ca> tracks how well the W3C members adhere to their own standards. He applies a strict, SGML-based parser to the home page of each of the consortium's organizational members. The results are updated daily. The two companies that place dead last on Yee's list are Netscape and Microsoft -- their home pages, filled with examples of their own attempts to influence the standards process, contain respectively 139 and 154 errors when measured against strict HTML standards. Only six members' home pages fully comply with either HTML 2.0 or 3.0. Here is the whole sad story:
30 - .. :: Number 20 - :: of W3C :: :: members 10 - :: :: :: :: :: :: :: .. 0 ----------------------------- none 1-9 10-29 30-79 80+ Number of HTML errors on home page
The validator Yee uses, at <http://ugweb.cs.ualberta.ca/~gerald/validate/>, is called "Kinder, Gentler HTML Validation." This page optionally runs Weblint on a submitted URL, <http://www.khoral.com/staff/neilb/weblint.html>.
See also TBTF for 1997-09-15, 08-11, 07-21, 07-14, 1996-03-17, 03-10, 02-27, 02-19
>>apple-internet-authoring mailing list: mail apple-internet-authoring-
> email@example.com without subject and with message: subscribe .
>> MEME: mail firstname.lastname@example.org with message: subscribe meme
> firstname lastname . Web home at <http://www.reach.com/matrix/>.