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Sunday, January 27, 2008

How Indirect Web Links Could Get You Investigated -- or Worse

Just to prove yet again that witch hunts in the U.S.
aren't restricted to 1692 Salem, we have the sophomoric story of a Florida Middle School resource officer under police and state attorney general investigation because "friends" linked from his MySpace page had themselves linked to pornographic sites. The details are illuminating, and more than a little distressing for anyone who cares about free speech.

And golly, it looks like the school involved has its own indirect link contents problems, too. Gulf Middle School's "Resources"
page links to a variety of clip art sites, and they link to ...
well ... let's just say that the entire Internet opens up at
that stage
.

I'm curious as to why the authorities in Florida are so quick to investigate a school employee for indirect link contents, while obviously the school itself -- which has a "We can accept no responsibility for content on any pages linked" notice on their resources page -- presumably feels that it should be immune to such investigations related to their own official Web site.

If authorities start applying "safe for children" standards to everyone whose Web page links to other pages that themselves at some point and in some fashion link to "inappropriate" material, the entire Internet will be on the chopping block in a "degrees of separation" accusation orgy.

Lauren Weinstein
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