New York’s continuing attack on property rights
New York Constitution, Article 1, Section 8: Every citizen may freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right; and no law shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press.
Video games sold in New York state must clearly label ratings for violent content under a law signed on Tuesday, which rights groups criticized as likely unconstitutional.
The New York Civil Liberties Union said that it planned to mount a legal challenge against the law, signed on Tuesday by New York Gov. David Paterson, as it raised free speech concerns.
The group said that similar laws in California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Washington state have been thrown out as unconstitutional.
The U.S. video gaming industry submits to ratings on a voluntary basis, and the system is similar to movie ratings.
The new law says that is it compulsory for games that are already rated to be labeled and also requires that new video game consoles are installed with parent-controlled lockout features by 2010.
As the article says the industry already has a voluntary rating system which everyone uses and all current and even some last generation consoles have parental controls. This law is pointless besides being unconstitutional. Speaking of which:
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has found a novel way to shake down law-abiding broadband companies: accuse them of harboring child pornography and threaten to prosecute them unless they do what he wants. That might just happen to involve writing Cuomo a hefty check.
The latest company to be honored by Cuomo’s personal attention is Comcast, which received a two-page letter on Monday threatening “legal action” on child pornography grounds within five days, if its executives failed to agree to a certain set of rules devised by the attorney general.
In the letter (PDF), the Democratic politico says he wants Comcast and other broadband providers to “volunteer” to take actions “surgically directed” only at child pornography and “not at any protected content.” (He’s targeting Usenet, the venerable pre-Web home of thousands of discussion groups that go by names like sci.math, rec.motorcycles, and comp.os.linux.admin.)
That might be laudable, if it were true. But Cuomo’s ham-fisted pressure tactics already have led Time Warner Cable to pull the plug on some 100,000 Usenet discussion groups, including such hotbeds of illicit content as talk.politics and misc.activism.progressive. Verizon Communications deleted such unlawful discussion groups as us.military, ny.politics, alt.society.labor-unions, and alt.politics.democrats. AT&T and Time Warner Cable have taken similar steps.
Cuomo’s response: “I commend the companies that have stepped up today to embrace a new standard of responsibility, which should serve as a model for the entire industry.” (By that standard of responsibility, an entire library should be burned down if a single obscene book happens to be found on its shelves.)
Usenet has been around forever in internet terms (1980) and is still in heavy use. It along with IRC are where all the “really bad” stuff which happens online lives. These services are often hosted by major ISPs but anyone can setup one. These actions only push those performing these acts further underground. At best it prevents the computer illiterate child porn collector from its digital forms. At worst it’s restricting thousands from their ability to communicate and digitally peacefully assemble.