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'Awful' Internet Rules Released 106

Posted by timothy
from the do-your-wuerst dept.
maximus1 writes "NetChoice, a trade group that identifies and fights threats aimed at online communities and e-commerce, released iAWFUL, a list of America's 10 worst legislative and regulatory proposals targeted at the Internet. At the top of the list is a Maine law that would require e-commerce sites to get parental approval before collecting minors' personal information. According to the NetChoice site, 'lawmakers approved the measure despite the fact that Web sites have no means to confirm such consent, and would be effectively forced to stop providing valuable services like college information, test prep services, and class rings.' Coming in second on the iAWFUL list is a city ordinance that would hit Internet users with an extra tax on hotel rooms. Scheduled to take effect in September, the new tax is aimed at consumers who use the Internet to bargain hunt for expensive NYC hotel rooms."
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'Awful' Internet Rules Released

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  • by bmo (77928) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @03:45PM (#29123945)

    That goddamn site design.

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Over?

    --
    BMO

    • It's designed and programmed in Web 2.0
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        If Web 2.0 means popup balloon hyperlinks then Web 2.0 can get F'd in the A.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by el_gordo101 (643167)
          Add intellitxt.com to your hosts file and point it to 127.0.0.1, those annoying-ass pop-up link things will go away forever.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by MartinSchou (1360093)

            If you use Opera, you can also add it to your "Block Content" list - works perfectly as well.

      • It's designed and programmed in Web 2.0

        Spoken like a true corporate suit.

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Slashdot srsly needs to consider having a -1 Whoosh mod.

          • True enough.

            As an aside, a more useful addition would be a "-1 Factually Incorrect" mod. Many's the time I've seen something get to +4 Informative, only to discover the information was incorrect. The only way to offset it without being a dick and crying Troll is to mod it Overrated, which somehow doesn't cut the mustard. You end up with "Score:0, Insightful" comments.

            The counter-argument is that it would invite a whole new level of Mod-trolling, where people express their disagreement to an opinion or in

      • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

        Do you really think that's an excuse?

    • by bishiraver (707931) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @05:54PM (#29125923) Homepage

      Readability bookmarklet is your friend: http://lab.arc90.com/experiments/readability/ [arc90.com]

      • Thanks for the link. I've never heard of this site, but checked it out now and I think its a great Idea. Thanks!
      • by TheSpoom (715771) *

        Good idea, but clearly not fully baked yet: The actual list isn't displayed in the "readability'd" version of the site.

      • by skeeto (1138903)
        Wow, thanks! That's great! I use Vimperator (Firefox Addon) and added a quickmark to it as goR. I just type that and any page becomes readable. Previously, for really awful sites, I would fire up Lynx and read it there.
  • Awful? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CannonballHead (842625) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @03:45PM (#29123957)

    At the top of the list is a Maine law that would require e-commerce sites to get parental approval before collecting minors' personal information.

    Considering the fact that they are (1) a minor and (2) probably have much of the same "personal information" as the parents do, I fail to see how this is bad, actually. Theoretically, the parents are still somewhat responsible for their kids when they are minors. I don't see how enforcing that on the internet as well as in other things (such as getting your ears pierced) is a bad thing. Maybe you want to argue about the parental control in the first place, but it doesn't help to just have inconsistent laws...

    • Re:Awful? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by FooAtWFU (699187) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @03:52PM (#29124093) Homepage
      The problem is that there's basically no way to prove that you have parental approval, so it's essentially barring the websites from doing anything to collect information from minors (in excess of COPPA regulations, and in excess of what it's legal to collect offline, I believe).
      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by supernova_hq (1014429)
        There's also no way for the website to prove that the user IS underage...
      • by Blackhalo (572408)
        "The problem is that there's basically no way to prove that you have parental approval, so it's essentially barring the websites from doing anything to collect information from minors"

        Sooo, I'm not seeing a downside here. Everyone starts claiming to be minor to avoid marketing schemes? Nope, still not seeing a downside.
        • by Blackhalo (572408)
          Moderation -1 100% Overrated Well, that is not very nice. How can it be overrated when it was unmodded? I do not see a problem with prohibiting marketing to anyone who identifies themselves as a minor and a Mod has a problem with that?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      WHY DON'T YOU LINK to the ACTUAL LIST? Instead of an ARTICLE about an ARTICLE about the List?

      http://www.netchoice.org/press/misguided-marketing-restriction-and-online-travel-tax-top-list-of-worst-internet-legislation.html

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There's no way to verify that a person is over 18/21 except via credit card transactions... which most people are hesitant to provided for non-purchases.

      If you require minors to get "parent consent" before submitting a form... it will either be invalidatable (new words are fun) or simply denied by a large portion of the site's traffic. Sure, you need your parents with you to get into an R-rated movie, but said parents are there physically to allow this transaction. This law basically forces everyone to hit

      • by AndrewNeo (979708)

        I had a debit card at the age of 16, and it is processable as credit. It is not a validation method of proving age.

        • Last I checked you can't use a debit card over the internet...
          • by FCAdcock (531678)

            Last I checked I ordered pizza over the internet with one today at lunch.

          • by AndrewNeo (979708)

            Not as a debit card, no. Ones like mine with the Visa or Mastercard logo, however, can be processed as credit cards, however. It has a CVV and everything.

            • by jo_ham (604554)

              I use my Debit card on the internet all the time, as an actual debit card, not as credit.

              • You most certainly do not, unless you have a way of securely entering your PIN.
                • by jo_ham (604554)

                  Well, the money is debited from my account immediately, with no interest payments or further action required from me, exactly as it is when I use my PIN at a terminal in a store.

                  Unless the specifics of the technology are what is at issue here, but in terms of actual user experience, the terms "credit" and "debit" refer to the way you pay for your purchases.

                  • by Zombywuf (1064778)

                    I do love the PR campaign that has successfully convinced so many people that you can only buy things by paying interest on them.

                  • Fees on the back end, what company transports the charge, and what authorization is used to authenticate it are all different.

                    With Credit, the money is not debited immediately. It is authorized immediately and held in pending until it is batched. It is only then that it is taken from the account.

                    When you use your PIN, it comes out immediately. The processing fees are lower on the back end, but the cost of entry is higher for the merchant and the level of risk to a consumer is greater (reference PIN sni

          • SRSLY, WTF ???

            Amazon take debit cards, no problem. I have a corporate AmEx for business expenses and no personal credit cards. If a site won't accept Maestro, they've lost this particular customer.

          • Last I checked you can't use a debit card over the internet...

            You can't use an EFTPOS card over the internet (eg Maestro) but you can definitely use a debit Mastercard on the internet. Also, in Australia at least, you can't get a debit card until you are 18 (with most of the major banks).

          • by jo_ham (604554)

            Last time I check, about 5 minutes ago, when I ordered something on the internet with my debit card, you can, and this is actually being processed as debit, not as credit.

          • To all those that said I was wrong (I could be, I don't use my card all that often), does this apply to ALL debit cards, or only debit-mastercards?

            Mine only says debit (along with the name of my bank) and as far as I knew the card was absolutely useless without the pin number (which only a real moron would put on the internet).
            • by Zombywuf (1064778)

              Buy something with it, see what happens.

              Chip and pin is a joke BTW, you can still charge someones card with only the numbers on the front.

    • Re:Awful? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by natehoy (1608657) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @04:08PM (#29124375) Journal

      Disclosure: I live in Maine.

      There are a few minor problems with a law like this:

      1: Identifying minors. I remember dealing with COPA on the discussion boards I run, and basically I had a checkbox that says "you cannot access this site if you are a minor, check here to certify that you are, in fact, over 18 or the legal age of independence for your country." I routinely had 13 and 14 year olds on the site, who admitted they were underage, who had checked that box. Guess what? People lie. And if a 13 year old had used the site to hook up with an adult for sex, I probably would have shared some liability even though I had no way of knowing the actual age of my users. The Internet happens over great distances, and you don't get to check ID for or personally interview every user.

      2: Logistics. How, precisely, do you go about collecting consent from a parent (assuming the kid tells the truth)? Do you have to physically call every parent when the kid signs up for an account? Is getting verbal consent enough, or do you have to get a signed letter? How do you know it's not forged? What if the kid is located in somewhere other than Maine? Maybe, God Forbid, in another country? This may come as a surprise in Augusta, but kids exist everywhere.

      3: Jurisdiction. If I run a web site in Maine, am I required to collect information on minors living in Maine only, or worldwide? Alabama and Japan are not requiring this parental consent, so I'm now running at a disadvantage compared to a web site running from (say) New Hampshire. How about if I run a website in, say, Dusseldorf or Paris and want to sell to someone in Maine. Do I, as a foreign entity, have to adjust my e-commerce systems to suit Maine law?

      4: Sense. If Little Jimmy gets ahold of his dad's credit card and buys something, well, that sounds like a discipline issue between Jimbo and Dad, doesn't it? Dad either (a) gave consent by handing over the credit card or (b) will be surprised to find out that Jimbo LIED on the form and claimed to be Dad when he bought his stuff.

      #4 is particularly true if somehow the vendor is supposed to know that Jimbo is lying and it's not really his dad making the purchase.

      Other than the fact that it's an unenforceable law governing something that Maine has no jurisdiction over in a way that makes it very hard to do business in or from Maine, and that it's trying to fix a problem that can't be fixed this way, heck, it's a great law.

      • by sjames (1099)

        The upshot is that if my website even offers a way to enter a name and address, I'd be best off blocking everyone in Maine just in case. Nobody wants to find themselves on the wrong side of a "think of the children" law, however innocently. Who knows what some eager beaver prosecutor will decide constitutes "serving teens".

        Since a minor could also conceivably email me his name and address or otherwise post it without invitation, we'd better just de-peer the whole state just to be sure. Sorry about that nate

        • by natehoy (1608657)

          It's OK, I understand and forgive you. Can I still do business with you if I can accurately describe the mating call of the 300-baud modem? That's GOTTA be solid proof. :)

          • by sjames (1099)

            Yes, but I reserve the right to also request that you describe your preferred method to TRY to stop an 8-track from slipping or to fix the horizontal hold on an analog TV :-)

    • I fail to see how this is bad, actually. Theoretically, the parents are still somewhat responsible for their kids when they are minors.

      That's exactly why this is bad. The parents should be responsible for what their kids do on the internet but this law passes that responsibility onto the websites.
    • Idiots like you are the reason so many stupid laws exist.
    • by canajin56 (660655)
      It's not just information, it only applies to HEALTH INFORMATION. And it's not before collecting it, it's before collecting it for marketing aggregation purposes. The guys who wrote this list are the scum of the internet. Pretty much the entire list is "wahh, fucking privacy laws, it should be a crime NOT to collect the medical history of minors and sell it to drug companies."
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        FTFA : "the law now says it's illegal for anyone to 'knowingly collect or receive health-related information or personal information' for marketing purposes from a minor without getting parental consent. The law includes a minor's name and address as personal information that cannot be collected without parental consent"

        This covers a fairly broad range of information, and as it is entirely unenforceable by the web-sites, it sets up e-commerce sites for almost inevitable failure to uphold the law.

        • by Zombywuf (1064778)

          Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, I can't hover up peoples names and addresses to send them junk mail, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • by shredluc (805905) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @03:46PM (#29123963) Journal
    The internet has been a wonderful thing for billions of people since it's inception. Why on earth are legislators trying to make it a quagmire like anything else they touch? Really it's a great example of market based forces and what they can accomplish. Please, for all our sakes, leave it alone.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The internet has been a wonderful thing for billions of people since it's inception. Why on earth are legislators trying to make it a quagmire like anything else they touch? Really it's a great example of market based forces and what they can accomplish. Please, for all our sakes, leave it alone.

      They have their thumbs in every pie but one. You think that letting it sit there, unregulated and unmolested, is even an option in their little iRule brains?

    • by migla (1099771)

      [I]t's a great example of market based forces and what they can accomplish.

      Fuck force. Especially fuck market based force.

    • by Eil (82413)

      Why on earth are legislators trying to make it a quagmire like anything else they touch?

      Politicians seek to control the Internet because they believe that doing so will grant them more power.

      Businesses seek to control the Internet because they believe that doing so will grant them more money.

      Both are ultimately wrong, because the more you restrict what individuals can do on the Internet, the less useful it becomes to society as a whole.

  • Can we agree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sys.stdout.write (1551563) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @03:46PM (#29123967)
    to stop linking to itworld.com?

    Justification:
    • They use the stupid popup-balloon-when-you-mouse-over-hyperlinks
    • They simply regurgitate press releases with virtually no added content of its own

    Just a thought..

    • Probably not.

      We pretty well have to link to whoever has the original story, don't we?

      I don't know what browser YOU'RE using, but for me, Firefox 3.52 + Adblock PLus 1.1.1 doesn't pop up anything by mousing over anywhere on the original article page.

      • The second link was the original article. That one was great, I have no problem whatsoever. I simply take issue with the first link - that one is pure evil.
        • And by "article" I mean "press release". The itworld.com article was in my opinion simply a recitation of the press release, and furthermore has terrible ECMAScript.
    • by qortra (591818)
      Seconded. Also, did anybody else get "Server is Too Busy" in the balloon ads? Amateur hour.
  • iWow, iThat's iHard iTo iDo.

    But, yeah, nice work.

    • by FooAtWFU (699187)
      In all fairless, just plain awful.com was probably already registered.

      No, I'm not going there to check. It's probably a generic domain name squatter, but I don't want to risk it if I end up being wrong.

    • There's an app for that..
  • Trade groups suck (Score:5, Informative)

    by Publikwerks (885730) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @03:48PM (#29124007)
    The law states its illegal to: "knowingly collect or receive health-related information or personal information for marketing purposes from a minor without first obtaining verifiable parental consent" MARKETING PURPOSES being the operative term here. This looks like a good law to me
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The law states its illegal to: "knowingly collect or receive health-related information or personal information for marketing purposes from a minor without first obtaining verifiable parental consent" MARKETING PURPOSES being the operative term here. This looks like a good law to me

      No kidding. The article struck me as corporate whining.

      "Waaaah...they won't let us market to the kids. WAAAAAAH."

    • Bad Law. [and I have successfully sued telemarketers under the TCPA]

      This means that, if I run an e-commerce site and let my customers sign up for a newsletter or "special offers" by email when they make a purchase, I can be sued when a kid uses dad's credit card to make a purchase and asks to sign up for special offers, even if he lies about his age.

      If this exempted sites using the data from their OWN site to follow up BY EMAIL, it would be different.
      If this only covered health information, it would be diff
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @03:59PM (#29124211) Journal
    Somehow it doesn't surprise me that this list is from a trade group.

    The Top 10 "worst internet laws in America" manages to include nothing related to wiretapping, DMCA, or the like; but does manage to include a bunch of whining about advertisers not being able to aggregate user search information?

    This looks like shiny astroturf for some of the scum of the internet. If you actually care about good laws and freedom, give the EFF a look.
    • by BabyDuckHat (1503839) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @04:39PM (#29124821)
      This isn't from a trade group. It's from a group of ordinary consumers just like you. These informed consumers know that no personally identifiable data is being stored and in the event that it is stored it is only shared with trusted 3rd parties and affiliates. These consumers also appreciate the opportunity to accept valuable offers from reputable online companies. These consumers understand that the personalized marketing communications they receive can make their online experience richer and more engaging. This comment is subject to change at any time without notice.
    • by kabloom (755503)

      What's so wrong about the hotel room tax anyway? It's enforceable, it doesn't put undue burden on companies outside its jurisdiction. They have to get their room rates from the hotels in NYC anyway and have to confirm reservations with the hotels in NYC anyway, so the burden is really on the hotels to give the appropriate pricing information and make sure the tax gets to the right place. And the hotels know where their reservations are coming from.

  • by ExE122 (954104) * on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @04:10PM (#29124401) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps the real problem is a lack of understanding. It seems that many lawmakers who try to deal with internet law have next to no technological knowledge about how the internet works, especially when it comes to e-commerce. (this looks like a good place for the obligatory 'tubes' link [wikipedia.org]).

    It seems like a lot of these laws are made with "good intentions" in that they are trying to prevent something they see as wrong: It sounds like the Maine law was trying to control the personal information dispersal of minors, and the law in New York was trying to keep it's residents from evading state taxes. They don't realize that the Maine law destroys a huge teenage market base in an already struggling economy, and that the New York law stifles e-commerce and causes a hastle for everyone outside of the state.

    Unfortunately it looks like a lot of these laws are being proposed by individuals (I had originally written 'old farts' here but deleted it because it's unfair to old people... and to farts) have too narrow of a view to fully grasp the repercussions.

    It's the same old complaint, I know (-1 Redundant) but I guess as long as there's slashdot, there will always be a place to bitch about it.
  • I agree that it is a bad law in the sense that it is difficult for a site to know if a customer is a minor. So this law will only play out in one of two ways in the courts: the majority of lawsuits will be successful, even though it is currently impossible to judge the age of the customer (they can't ask for ID if they look too young, and minors will lie if asked their age); or there will be a glut of lawsuits that will fail because the courts acknowledge that the vendor cannot judge the age of the custome

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by YrWrstNtmr (564987)
      I agree that it is a bad law in the sense that it is difficult for a site to know if a customer is a minor.

      Not merely difficult, but impossible to positively identify who is sitting at the keyboard.

      So the question, in my mind, isn't so much, "is the law good?" The question is, "how can we implement this law effectively?"

      You have one too many words in your question. "Can we implement this law effectively?"
      And the ansewr is "No".
  • NYC Hotel taxes (Score:2, Informative)

    As if taxes on NYC Hotel weren't enough: As of June 2009, the taxes and other fees added to the daily hotel rate are: * New York State Sales Tax = 4% * New York City Sales Tax = 8.375% * Hotel Room Occupancy Tax = $2 + 5.875% * Additional Fee = $1.50
    • I click a link in my rss reader to get to slashdot to see the summary, click though to TFA, and then I have to click through again to the damn list itself. I didn't even make it to the last part. F itworld.
  • stop providing valuable services like [...] class rings.

    Class rings are neither valuable nor a service. Just so's ya know...

    • Not true: If you're seeing a girl who won't quite give it up in your senior year, sometimes giving her your class ring will put her over the edge.

      Thanks again, jostens!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Maybe the girls YOU dated in high school. If one of the girls I dated in high school discovered I had bothered to even get a class ring, she probably would have kicked me in the balls just before breaking up with me and finished it up with kicking me in the balls again.
        • The girls that went to your high school sound unusually not superficial and not follow-the-herd. I think most of the girls at my high school were convinced guys had to get the class ring to graduate.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          huh, I got laid just by implying I might give her my class ring. I didn't ahve a girl friend, but I got laid a lot.

  • Maybe this is just me but I think we should stop forcing websites to conform to each and every states individual laws. We should have a standard that each category of site in the US would have to conform to, but not each state. Certain things obviously would be exempt (like you can't ship alcohol to utah, so sites just plain wouldn't list utah in their shipping info). But I find it absolutely ridiculous that if I were able to pass a law here that says all websites must be in klingon, they have to conform
  • here's what i find awful.

    Is link to stories that aren't actually links to the story. It's a link to some other lame ass website that post the link to the story.

    Here, I will say it slowly for you SFB's (Shit for Brains) that post these things.

    If the link doesn't go to the original story, then you are posting the wrong link.

    That means, if I click on the "Source" link and it goes to some webpage that actually has the "source" link on it, you fail. You suck, and you better get your 4 year old kid to show you

  • and our state's record of proceedings. I highly recommend the exercise. People who have never had the experience have no idea what horrors don't make it out of committee to catch the eye of the news.

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