It sounds like a well-intentioned bill. The U.S. House of Representatives has a piece of legislation making its way through (it passed the Financial Services Committee this week) that would make Internet Service Providers subject to fines for not blocking fraudulent web sites. Specifically, they are targeting bogus financial scams.
Well, who wouldn't want those kinds of sites blocked (besides the criminals committing actual scams)?
Once again, Washington looks like it is still living in the time of Washington.
Here's why this is a bad idea:
- When sites are blocked, it is inevitable that some sites get blocked that really don't fit the blocking criteria. What if it were your business's web site?
- Today it's financial scammers (great!). But what if its a politically motivated criteria in the future? Heaven help the person or organization on a future President's enemies list.
- If an ISP can be held responsible for giving access to rogue financial scam sites, then doesn't it open the door for it to be liable for any web site that inflects damages of any kind. A litigious minded ISP could end up blocking a whole lot of sites and content areas that you don't even realize is now off limits.
Last updated: Nov 5, 2009
RENEE ORICCHIO is a technology writer and former supervising news producer for CNN Financial News. She has been covering the computer industry since 1987. @oricchio