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The Internet Censorship Crime Government

Go To Jail For Visiting a Web Site? Top Law Prof Talks Up the Idea (slate.com) 563

David Rothman writes: Eric Posner, the fourth most-cited law professor in the U.S., says the government may need to jail you if you even visit an ISIS site after enough warnings. He says, "Never before in our history have enemies outside the United States been able to propagate genuinely dangerous ideas on American territory in such an effective way—and by this I mean ideas that lead directly to terrorist attacks that kill people. The novelty of this threat calls for new thinking about limits on freedom of speech.

The law would provide graduated penalties. After the first violation, a person would receive a warning letter from the government; subsequent violations would result in fines or prison sentences. The idea would be to get out the word that looking at ISIS-related websites, like looking at websites that display child pornography, is strictly forbidden" There would be exemptions for Washington-blessed journalists and others. Whew! Alas, this man isn't Donald Trump — he is a widely respected University of Chicago faculty member writing in Slate.

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Go To Jail For Visiting a Web Site? Top Law Prof Talks Up the Idea

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:07AM (#51128917)

    Maybe he'll realize why it's a horrendously idiotic idea. Probably not though, people who envision draconian laws always do it believing that they'll never become a victim of their own fuckery.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:20AM (#51129021)

      Adds a whole new dimension, to the clasdic game of Rick-rolling ;-)

    • by vtcodger ( 957785 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @11:16AM (#51129557)

      Jail for those who view proscribed web sites? What could possibly go wrong?

      Well, how about the obvious thing that HTML links typically do not display the actual link, but rather a terse description? Your neighbor's dog barks all night? Send him a link to "Free Porn, and lot's of it" that actually links to violent.deathtoalinfidels.sa. Be sure and wave and smile brightly when he is carted off to the big house. Then call animal control and complain that with your neighbor in jail, the dog will not be adequately cared for.

      Then there's that first amendment thing (not that we americans pay all that much attention it). Possibly someone should slip Posner a false link to one of the many sites displaying the US constitution.

      • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @12:47PM (#51130421) Journal

        Well, how about the obvious thing that HTML links typically do not display the actual link, but rather a terse description?

        That's easy. The law will provide protection from prosecution for people that use a government approved web filter.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @01:01PM (#51130531)

        To add something to your well thought out analysis... once a law was established there would be nothing to stop it from extending into other areas. I'm sure the MPAA/RIAA would love it to be a criminal offense to even visit a P2P website. And why stop there? Once precedent has been set make it a criminal activity to even visit any site the government deems subversive.

        And of course to enforce such laws, you would need to destroy any privacy. Ban VPNs. Ban Tor. Ban encryption. And so on...

        "Protect the children" is always use a method to pass draconian online laws but I don't think the children would want these laws in place once they grow up enough to understand their rights are being stripped away. A rational person would take their chances with a few terrorists and criminals getting away then giving government this sort of extreme power.

      • by The-Ixian ( 168184 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @02:03PM (#51131141)

        Right. A whole new version of swatting is born...

        The thing is, how are you supposed to make any kind of informed decisions if you don't have all of the information.

        We may not like what terrorists have to say, but somewhere deep down there is a grievance or possibly an injustice.

        This is the proverbial slippery slope. Once the government deems a group a terrorist organization, all information about that organization suddenly becomes filtered through approved channels. What if they were misidentified accidentally or purposefully? What if there are multiple "wings" of the same organization, some being non-violent who are just trying to affect change?

        Yeah I don't like this idea at all.

        By all means, put the repeated visitor of the site on a watch list or something, but don't lock them up for viewing proscribed content.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zoomshorts ( 137587 )

      "been able to propagate genuinely dangerous ideas on American territory " , uhmm , this is exactly why we have a Second Amendment. Fascist regimes use things like Motherland, Fatherland and Homeland to drum up support for all these SAME OLD TIRED IDEAS, the ideas are not new at all.

      • "been able to propagate genuinely dangerous ideas on American territory"

        He's quite wrong about that. And even if he weren't, "dangerous" or offensive speech is precisely what the First Amendment particularly protects.

    • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @11:31AM (#51129709)

      That's a variation on the classic imagefap troll.
      Imagefap is a large porn site, and searching for "lolita" will result in a message telling you that you might get investigated for child porn. It is just to scare you away, and also a way to remind people that pedophilia is not welcomed.
      This resulted in trolls tricking people into getting to that page with shortened URLs or misleading instructions.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Other search engines started displaying a warning on searches for "lolita" too, which is unfortunate because it's a real name. There is even a popular French pop artist with that name.

        I was trying to remember the name of a child soap star the other day. She was in an Australian soap and they were always at the pool or the beach, selling that dream lifestyle to dreary Brits. Well, poor actress now has her name forever flagged as child porn now because some guys (who were probably kids at the time) said she w

    • Not only is this absurd on civil liberties grounds, it would be stupid even if you didn't care about civil liberties. Suppose for a moment that you are a famous U of Chicago law professor who doesn't care about the Constitution [wikipedia.org], and you want to stop terrorists. You could send a letter to a potential future terrorist saying "hey we noticed you visited this web site once, and we'll notice if you return to that site", or you could very discreetly log who visits suspicious sites and query for patterns, perhaps
      • His goal is to prevent people from becoming radicalized by preventing them from visiting websites that radicalize people.

        He gives an example of a normal, but lonely, teenager, who found 'friendship' among ISIS advocates, who slowly turned him over to the dark side. Eventually they convinced him to do something illegal, and he was caught, and jailed for 11 years. The article claims that if we had banned him from visiting those web sites, it would have saved him from doing illegal things, and saved him from
        • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

          He's a moron. People were becoming radicalized long before the Internet came along. They even managed to become radicalized under previous historic tyrannical regimes. Deciding to embrace Nazi or pre-Soviet style tactics to suppress dissent and disolusionment isn't going to do squat.

          The idiot should crack open a history book, or perhaps acknowledge that such things as books exist.

    • by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @01:49PM (#51131003) Homepage Journal

      No, he's right some websites are dangerous and need to be banned for the people's own good. We should start with banning any website that promotes authoritarian ideas, those are the most dangerous to a free society, it should be terrorism so that they get no trial and a felony so that they can't vote. And we should ban all lawyer's websites, those incite people to cause financial harm to others. Anyone who calls a lawyer over the phone needs to be put on a watchlist.

    • Maybe he'll realize why it's a horrendously idiotic idea. Probably not though, people who envision draconian laws always do it believing that they'll never become a victim of their own fuckery.

      And are usually right too. Draconian laws aren't used to maintain order, they're used to maintain social hierarchy - they're basically tools for the powerful to hide their oppression behind the appearance of law. Where ever you find draconian laws, you find a tyrant. And where ever you find someone pushing for dracon

    • The ivory tower professor must lead a secluded life. One can only wonder what it would do to his mind if he ever visited the festival of dangerous ideas. [wikipedia.org]

      I guess now I understand why this annual event is held in Australia rather than the US.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:08AM (#51128933)

    USA how deep will you sink? Please stop.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MitchDev ( 2526834 )

      Lower and lower every day...

      The great experiment is done and has failed.
      Just like socialism and communism and every other form of government, "democracy" has failed because of people, their greed, and their lust for power...

      • by KermodeBear ( 738243 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @12:06PM (#51130033) Homepage

        The Great Experiment hasn't completely failed - we still have a chance to turn this boat around.

        We can still vote. You may say that it doesn't matter, but it does. Stop voting for people that you know are crooked. Stop voting for people who use fear as an excuse for everything. Stop voting for people who have "a pen and a phone" to get things done, and damn what the laws say.

        Start voting for people who know the constitution and use it to guide their decisions. It will take time to flush all the shit down the toilet, but after a few election cycles, flooding the government with people of principal will make a difference. A huge difference.

        Educate yourself. Then educate your family. Then educate your friends. It doesn't take very much.

        The failure of education and the rise of apathy is our biggest enemy right now. The government is only as shitty as it is because we, as a citizenry, keep electing the same people over and over and over again. We bitch and moan, but then next time we do it again anyway.

        There is a way out and there is still time - just not much.

        • by MitchDev ( 2526834 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @12:39PM (#51130361)

          Be nice if candidates worth voting for actually ran, but all we get to choose from are the "lesser of two evils"

        • by dcollins117 ( 1267462 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @12:47PM (#51130419)

          Educate yourself. Then educate your family. Then educate your friends. It doesn't take very much.

          It is becoming increasingly difficult to do this though. How can you trust any information coming from the government or media when the messages they spout are deliberately designed to deceive and to push an agenda?

          How exactly do you go about educating yourself about a program that has been classified by the government for "national security reasons?" There's not much you can do except wait for the next Edward Snowden to come along to give you accurate information.

          I do agree that a democratically elected government is best served by an educated voting populace, but that is a tall order given the barriers currently in place to keep the truth from the American people.

        • by Creepy ( 93888 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @03:02PM (#51131713) Journal

          I believe that ship has sailed in America, mainly because corporations control the election process. Corporations own the Presidential Committee on Debates and set a high threshold to keep third parties out and send out the talking points for the debates beforehand so there are no surprises (the push for open debates largely falls on deaf ears - opendebates.org has pushed for this for years). Corporations own the media and control the media through money from superPACs that they fund. Even Bernie Sanders realized that he had to affiliate with the Democratic party to even have a chance of being heard, much less winning. Once you join a party, you are bound to a base platform dictated by your corporate masters.

          Corporations are also becoming too large again, with many behaving like monopolies and in some areas, are monopolies (Comcast, for instance). Where's Teddy Roosevelt when you need him?

          The other problem you have is people just voting for the party because doing anything else is throwing away your vote. The best way to fix that would be to have ranked choice voting or something similar, but that will never happen - the corporate overlords won't allow it as it would break their chokehold on the system they now completely control.

    • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

      Stop what? Allowing people to state their opinions, no matter how idiotic they may be? No, we won't.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:32AM (#51129135)

        He isn't some random dude. He is a law professor. And one of the most cited in the country. Come on. He should be fired immediately.

        • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @11:04AM (#51129439) Journal

          And thus he must realize that such a law would almost certainly fail a First Amendment challenge. Such a law would be similar to the Sedition Act, and numerous legal scholars have held the view that that kaw would have been struck down to eventually.

          This is nothing more than book banning somehow declared as being different because "on a computer!* and it's utterly ludicrous. It is not as if American citizens couldn't get their hands on Marxisr-Leninist, Maoist or Nazi literature, or dozens of other writings some held as a threat to the American way of life long before the internet.

          If the US can tolerate Neo-Nazis matching down Main Street, or Christian Identity types dreaming of transforming America into a theocracy, I'm sure it can survive som extraordinarily small number of would-be Jihadis reading an IS web page.

          And that's not even dealing with the technical difficulties of monitoring and enforcement. Yes, you might catch the low-hanging fruit; technically unsophisticated Jihadis, but it wouldn't prevent the more knowledgeable, and savvy. It would just be more overreach that would not accomplish its stated goal.

  • Dangerous idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:09AM (#51128941)

    I can see this being taken advantage of to quell free speech. For example, visiting a Tea Party or Libertarian website could land you in jail someday. Who gets to decide what is dangerous?

    Also, wouldn't blocking certain websites be more effective? If they were using a foreign VPN, the US government wouldn't necessarily know anyway.

    • by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:16AM (#51128985) Homepage Journal

      Remember you're dealing with a group of people (US leadership and US political candidates) who believe that there is a big ON/OFF switch for the Internet located in Bill Gates' basement.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Love it...

      wouldn't blocking certain websites be more effective?

      1. Government wants to censor the web.
      2. Public outcry.
      3. Government threatens jail.
      4. Public asks for censorship instead.

    • by Jesrad ( 716567 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @11:50AM (#51129879) Journal

      Well here in France we're already experimenting with the idea: this guy was home-jailed based solely on his Google search history [numerama.com]. Best part is, no judge was involved, no hearing was done, not even a single formal accusation levied, it all happened on the Police's sole authority and discretion, by demanding his search history from Google (they complied) and then issuing an administrative order.

      This guy was actually documenting possible work-related health hazards.

      • by aepervius ( 535155 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @02:06PM (#51131171)
        Veolia a firm he is conflict with for disability denounced him for having being near a water plant and doing various activity which he was not allowed to, like visiting, and they found he researched article on how to make water toxic. Do you really think the FBI would think twice before jailing his ass ? So it was not coming only out of a google search. But afterward once it was known that that firm he was in conflict and it was research for his invalidity (25%) at that point it should have ended, and the firm getting a reprimand. The mise en residence was not the thing which you should be wary of, but that it stayed for so long and the firm was not even punished afterward. So yes it was not very good but it is not as clear cut as you push it.
  • by zagaxtnoi ( 1304785 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:10AM (#51128949)
    I can imagine this getting abused rather quickly, like someone important getting tricked into clicking a link.
    • I can imagine this getting abused rather quickly, like someone important getting tricked into clicking a link.

      I could see Anonymous hacking a bunch of websites to redirect to ISIS sites, even if they're at "war" with each other. They can't arrest everyone.

  • by Mirar ( 264502 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:11AM (#51128961) Homepage

    ""Never before in our history have enemies outside the United States been able to propagate genuinely dangerous ideas on American territory in such an effective way"

    I first thought he was talking about the idea that people might go to jail for merely visiting webpages.

    • by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:14AM (#51128973) Homepage Journal

      Another way to state this is that the US now needs thought police.

      How about the we spend our time looking for the REAL troublemakers instead of deciding certain broad groups, i.e. "Muslims," 'Web site users," etc. are all bad.

      Of course that would take reasoning ability, and that's at an all time low in our leadership and our general population.

    • by Mr. Shotgun ( 832121 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @11:00AM (#51129405)

      It almost reads like something from the McCarthy hearings, where they attacked film makers who made films with allegedly procommunist messages because of their influence on the american people. But this is worse, it would imprison anyone who had ever even seen the movie, let alone produced it. That is a dark path indeed that Mr. Posner wants to go down.

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    Brought to you by George Soros and The Open Society Foundation.

    Where open society means you can be open to what they want you to be.

    • I see from your link that this guy doesn't think there's a real problem with the NSA hoovering up everything on the web either.

      NOT a big advocate of privacy OR free speech.

      So, we should care about what this guy thinks why? I mean other than so we can laugh and point, of course....

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:44AM (#51129257)

      He debated AGAINST someone from The Open Society Foundation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:17AM (#51128993)

    Something has going seriously wrong when a well respected professor of law begins saying that there are dangerous ideas, and that ideas can be the direct cause of terrorism.

    • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @11:24AM (#51129637) Journal

      Something has going seriously wrong when a well respected professor of law begins saying that there are dangerous ideas, and that ideas can be the direct cause of terrorism.

      Huh?

      There are dangerous ideas.

      Ideas are precisely the cause of terrorism.

      Conversely his idea (having thought police) is also deeply dangerous.

      Finally your idea of pretending something you don't like doesn't exist is also dangerous, because if can lead to quite amazing blindness.

      That's the thing though, just because ideas are dangerous, doesn't mean they should be illegal.

  • Learn from Putin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sinij ( 911942 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:17AM (#51128997)
    State is more than capable of effective propaganda (or counter-propaganda). If ISIS is such existential threat, then correct approach to defeat their speech is more speech. For a fraction of what it costs to bomb them US Gov't can create top-notch documentaries and satire to effectively neutralize the threat.

    Those willing to give up their freedoms... and all that.
    • by JackieBrown ( 987087 ) <dbroome@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:33AM (#51129149)

      State is more than capable of effective propaganda (or counter-propaganda). If ISIS is such existential threat, then correct approach to defeat their speech is more speech. For a fraction of what it costs to bomb them US Gov't can create top-notch documentaries and satire to effectively neutralize the threat.

      It is hard to criticize ISIS without sounding like you are criticizing Islam. It is much more politically correct to bomb a country than to criticize a culture.

  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:20AM (#51129027)
    Eric Posner suggest we jail people we find engaging in objectionable ideas. I find Eric Posner's ideas highly objectionable, therefore following his suggested approach we should throw him, and anyone visiting Slate, into jail and throw away the keys.
  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:23AM (#51129063) Journal

    "Never before in our history have enemies outside the United States been able to propagate genuinely dangerous ideas on American territory in such an effective wayâ"and by this I mean ideas that lead directly to terrorist attacks that kill people. The novelty of this threat calls for new thinking about limits on freedom of speech.

    He could equally be talking about radio transmission, the ability to print and distribute pamphlets, or satellite TV broadcast.

    I always find it a bit disturbing when legal theorists talk about ways to work around the constitution, seeing it as an impediment rather than a set of ideals. Amend it, by all means. If you genuinely think that freedom of speech is an outdated concept it would be hypocritical of me not to support your right to say so.

  • This sounds like Swatting might get easier and harder to trace.

  • Typo (Score:5, Funny)

    by jargonburn ( 1950578 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:25AM (#51129083)

    he was a widely respected University of Chicago faculty member writing in Slate.

    FTFY.

  • by dmgxmichael ( 1219692 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:26AM (#51129089) Homepage
    Ok, let's start by jailing anyone calling for limits on free speech.
  • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:27AM (#51129097)

    No. No limits on speech. That is exactly the wrong idea. But being on a CT watchlist if you're immersed in ISIS propaganda, and don't have a clear reason otherwise for doing so? Yep, that's gonna happen.

    Problem with watchlists?

    Quiz:

    1. Should the government have the ability to keep ANY list(s), to include names and other attributes of people, for counterterrorism and intelligence purposes?

    2. Should the government be able to watch non-protected aspects of a US Person suspected of terrorism, foreign intelligence ties, etc., without a warrant?

    3. Should the government be able to watch protected aspects of a US Person suspected of terrorism, foreign intelligence ties, etc., with a warrant?

    4. Can the government keep secret the fact that a US Person (or any other person) is on any CT watchlist and/or is subject of a CT/CI investigation?

    5. Should the government be able to deprive a US Person of Constitutional rights without due process, or by virtue of appearance on a CT watchlist?

    Answer key: 1. Yes. 2. Yes. 3. Yes. 4. Yes. 5. No.

  • I really think we should just end the Internet if this is the alternative, I really do. Lets just cut the cables and make it a domestic only affair.

  • For example, maybe he's widely cited by people disagreeing with his shenanigans.
  • Nothing New (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:36AM (#51129179)

    These same sorts of people were saying the same things about Communist writings back during the Cold War. The bottom line is that there is a significant segment of the population that abhors freedom of speech, and they'll use whatever is convenient to get at it.

  • Funny (Score:5, Insightful)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:41AM (#51129221) Journal

    I'm pretty sure that the United States founders would agree that "genuinely dangerous ideas" (let's remember that not so long ago, things like homosexuality, transgenderism, interracial marriage would have all been on that list - hell my parents were married in 1955 and his parents didn't go to the wedding because my mom was LUTHERAN) should very much BE discussed in the marketplace of ideas. The only way stupid ideas die is when they're revealed to be stupid.

    Of course, part and parcel of their worldview was that if you were deemed enough of a threat to society, they just killed you and didn't wring their hands over the injustice of it either.

  • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:42AM (#51129227)

    What's scary about this is that he has even written books on Constitutional law but proposes ideas such as this. I guess it is pretty telling though that according to his Wikipedia page he is a big proponent of the NSA and its pervasive collecting of US citizen's data. I'm assuming his books on constitutional law just skip over the 1st and 4th Amendments.

    I also wonder what effect this would have on scholars and researchers. Had ISIL been around in it's current form 4-5 years ago I would have most likely written my Master's thesis on them and possibly might have attempted to access some of their propaganda sites for research. Besides, wouldn't criminalizing this information just make it seem that much more powerful and also make it harder to refute? People will seek it out just to see what is so bad about it.

  • by wardrich86 ( 4092007 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:43AM (#51129241)
    All of us outside the US will create the "Prison Roll"! It'll be like a rickroll, only the links will all go to illegal websites. We laugh, you go to jail.
  • by Idimmu Xul ( 204345 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:53AM (#51129337) Homepage Journal

    Anti-abortionist and ultra conservative right wing christian websites are going to fall under this umbrella too right, after the recent domestic terrorist shooting, right?

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:55AM (#51129353) Homepage
    So we have the right (free speech) to say anything we want, we just don't have the right to HEAR/see/read anything we want.

    The Supreme Court would have a field day with that idiot.

    He needs to take more class the Constition, rather than teach them.

    The reason for the first amendment still makes sense - better to letter fools speak freely so you know who they are, rather than punish men for doing doing so. The most powerful and dangerous of speech is true speech and by stopping speech you are more likely to spread lies than truth.

    The US government needs a good way to track ISIS supporters, and spying on those that visit their websites makes a lot more sense than arresting them.

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:57AM (#51129385)
    Let's consider the basic assumptions of the argument. First, Posner asserts

    Never before in our history have enemies outside the United States been able to propagate genuinely dangerous ideas on American territory in such an effective wayâ"and by this I mean ideas that lead directly to terrorist attacks that kill people. The novelty of this threat calls for new thinking about limits on freedom of speech.

    There are two things to note. First, the "danger" is not novel or unusual. Nazism is a good previous example of such a dire threat. And we have plenty of over-the-top, hysterical examples throughout the history of the US of foreign ideas like socialism, Catholicism, and other such things (usually imported by immigrants) threatening the US. Somehow the fabric of US society endured.

    Second, we have the ludicrous argument that this propaganda is effective on the basis of a single, two person terrorist attack in California (as well as a few others throughout a world of over seven billion people).

    Using the law to force Facebook and Twitter to do more to block ISIS propaganda would make sense but also falls short of what is needed. No approach is perfect, but there is a way to deal with these problems.

    Blocking ISIS propaganda is "makes sense". "No approach is perfect". We have two more assumptions here. First, that blocking ISIS propaganda is a good idea. and second, that we can ignore how terrible an idea is. Why not advocate the nuking of say, two billion people who happen to be or live near Muslims? No approach is perfect.

    Consider Ali Amin, the subject of a recent article in the New York Times. Lonely and bored, the 17-year-old Virginia resident discovered ISIS online, was gradually drawn into its messianic world, eventually exchanged messages with other supporters and members, and then provided some modest logistical support to ISIS supporters (instructing them how to transfer funds secretly and driving an ISIS recruit to the airport). He was convicted of the crime of material support of terrorism and sentenced to 11 years in prison. Amin did not start out as a jihadi; he was made into one.

    Dude had his computer hacked. He didn't mean to try to help kill people. It just sort of happened with all this bad content forced on his computer screen. Here, the implicit assumption is that people can't be responsible for their actions when it comes to this insidious jihad stuff.

    In one case the seemingly naÃve individual posted general questions about religion, to which ISIS supporters quickly responded in a calm and authoritative manner. After a few weeks, the accounts of hardened ISIS supporters slowly introduced increasingly ardent views into the conversation. The new recruit was then invited to continue [conversing] privately, often via Twitterâ(TM)s Direct Message feature or on other private messaging platforms such as surespot.

    This reminds me of the hysterical exhortations about the danger of recreational drugs and how drug users are lured into a shadow world of sin and iniquity.

    But there is something we can do to protect people like Amin from being infected by the ISIS virus by propagandists, many of whom are anonymous and most of whom live in foreign countries. Consider a law that makes it a crime to access websites that glorify, express support for, or provide encouragement for ISIS or support recruitment by ISIS; to distribute links to those websites or videos, images, or text taken from those websites; or to encourage people to access such websites by supplying them with links or instructions. Such a law would be directed at people like Amin: naÃve people, rather than sophisticated terrorists, who are initially driven by curiosity to research ISIS on the Web.

    Because punishing people for reading the wrong websites will work. When he discovers that sending people to jail, als

  • by sociocapitalist ( 2471722 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @11:11AM (#51129491)

    It seems to me that tracking who visits such sites would yield more useful information to be followed up on.

    From TFA:
    "Consider Ali Amin, (blah blah blah)...convicted of the crime of material support of terrorism and sentenced to 11 years in prison."

    Poor Ali Amin. TFA makes it out loke Ali Amin is not to blame for becoming radicalized. That if he hadn't visited IS websites, etc, that he'd be a fine, upstanding young man contributing to society.

    Well fuck Ali Amin. He made his choices and for the choices he made he should rot in prison for the rest of his life - not just 11 years.

    Track the visitors to the sites. Use such visits to justify warrants and use the existing legal framework to monitor them, track their contacts, intercept them on their way to do whatever helps the enemy and lock them up forever.

    What's next? A crime to look at websites that say things that the government doesn't want people reading?

  • As usual (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @11:14AM (#51129517)

    "After the first violation, a person would receive a warning letter from the government;"

    Wow! How would the government know my address? I'm sitting in a Starbucks with free WIFI and obviously an active VPN.
    I guess he has more knowledge about the law than of that series of tubes, like all those morons with the 'great ideas'.

  • Bullshit. (Score:5, Informative)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @11:14AM (#51129529) Journal
    Sure, it's pretty easy to agree that ISIS are a bunch of nasty fuckers, even by terrorist standards; but I am utterly sick of people hyperventilating and pretending that they are some kind of bold, unprecedented, super-threat that thererfore totally negates all historical arguments in favor of free political speech.

    By western body count, they are still lagging Al Qaeda, though their media arm appears to be better; and in terms of killing random foreigners we don't much care about they lag behind Boko Haram, a wide variety of respectable nation states quite possibly including us; and they are no closer to magic-super-brainwashing-propaganda than anyone else is.

    The 'argument' in favor of keeping the scary ISIS social media away from the kiddies to prevent their little minds being poisoned could just as easily have been applied to 'communist propaganda'(and, unlike ISIS, Team Communism actually had enough thermonuclear ICBMs to burn us into a smoking crater); basically any pacifist group during one of our wars, assorted unpopular sects, and all kinds of other things.

    They are mediagenic, and they aren't nice guys; but They. Are. Not. That. Novel. Any nonsense about their being some bold, new, existential threat is simply false. It's just the same old bad arguments for censorship, with a new boogieman. Plus, even if you ignore any principled objections; are you really going to win a war of ideas by looking like an utter coward? "Ohh, jihad is so attractive that we can't let kids hear about it or they'll adopt it for sure and go out and start attacking our decadent immoral civilization!" That's not fighting 'the terrorists', that's agreeing with them. Get your head out of your ass and do what it takes to have a culture where contempt for the opposition's message is all it takes. No, you won't win everyone, some people really do love the most sociopathic flavors of abrahamic blood god they can find, which is what actual police operations are for; but cowering at the power of the opposition's message is both pathetic and strategically dubious.

    Aside from my usual distaste for antiliberal 'national security' bullshit; the sheer cowardice of this really rubs me the wrong way. If you actually think that your own cultural offering is so weak that you need to live in terror of somebody's jihad-blog making it through the great firewall; surely you should be working on solving the real problem? Again, can't win em all; but if you can't compete with 'join in our glorious sandbox hellhole where the war is constant and everything fun is forbidden' message; you have issues.
  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <.moc.cam. .ta. .rcj.> on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @11:15AM (#51129539) Journal

    Goes to show that even the most ostensibly eminent law professor can get basic constitutional questions wrong. There is no such thing as crimethink in American law.

    -jcr

  • 2nd Amendment (Score:3, Interesting)

    by offrdbandit ( 1331649 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @11:22AM (#51129621)
    This is a perfect example of why ANY attempt to undermine or diminish the intended scope of the 2nd Amendment should not be tolerated by the American public. Even the "scholars" will perform mental gymnastics to justify their arbitrary notion of what is "protected" and what is "criminal".
  • by Jawnn ( 445279 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @11:35AM (#51129741)
    ...means the terrorists win. Again. We should never consider giving power to bat-shit crazy fundamentalist types (of every stripe) by suggesting that their doctrine is "dangerous". What we should be doing is something like the equivalent of a giant marquee with flashing neon arrows, announcing "Look at this bat-shit crazy ranting". Ideas deserve the light of day. Bad ideas deserve derision in that light.
  • by Mysticalfruit ( 533341 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @12:13PM (#51130097) Homepage Journal
    Good to know that merely thinking about bad things is the same as doing bad things.

    Reading about hacking? Same as hacking!
    Reading about [BLANK]? Same as [BLANK]!

    This guy is a FUCKING IDIOT.
  • by Magnus Pym ( 237274 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @05:21PM (#51132861)

    Unfortunately, the schools of economics and law at the University of Chicago are packed with hard-right supporters. Much of the `intellectual' backing for the republican right wing policy is backed up by these guys. It is no surprise that this sort of stuff comes from there.

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