SEATTLE, Washington - Whenever politicians talk about "protecting the children", you know they're pondering stuff that has nothing to do with protecting children. The absurdities pile up particularly high on the issue of online gambling.
Last year I mentioned proposals in Massachusetts. Now Kentucky is getting into the act - governor Steve Beshear is trying to the domain names of 141 internet gambling sites classified as "illegal gambling devices" that can be seized under state law. Surprise surprise, Beshear has also been pushing for a state constitutional amendment to allow meatspace casinos. Hurry, Steve, hide behind a child:
"No one has been willing to step up and do anything about illegal Internet gambling until now," Beshear said in the statement. "We must protect our people, especially our children, from this illegal and unregulated activity while also protecting our legal and regulated forms of gaming in Kentucky."The technical absurdities pile up on this issue. Internet domain names are just mappings to a unique 32-bit numerical IP address, which people are free to use instead of the domain name - is Kentucky ready to start confiscating 32-bit numbers? Is the number 1481743248 an illegal gambling device, Mr Beshear?
The tech dork response to this may be "just use a proxy", but proxies and anonymizers often have performance lags that might be prohibitive for something like online gambling.
And of course, state governments are like football coaches, if they see one guy doing something that works they all copy it:
Jeremiah Johnston, president of the Washington D.C.-based Internet Commerce Association, said he thought the ruling could have far-reaching ramifications on Internet commerce.
"With this decision, it's essentially throwing a wild card into the mix," Johnston said. "I definitely fear copycat actions from other states."
Found via Digg (where it had a headline so misleading, I'm not linking to it)