Tech politics roundup: blog license, laptop search, goatse ban?

* Image: Is Pastrami Goatse now a felony? See last item in this post. Image shot by BoingBoing reader Vidiot, who says: "This was taken in New York's Katz's Deli (of "When Harry Met Sally" fame) on the Lower East Side, home of the best pastrami on earth." Yeah, you never forget that taste, do you…

* Does the law allow border agents in the US and Canada to search your laptop? Yes. Link, Another Link, and court decision PDF Link. (Thanks, JahWarrior and John Sawers)

* She's a convicted fraudster, she's running from the law, and she's liveblogging on the lam: Link (thanks, Cyrus)

* RIAA attacks guitar tab sites: vengeance sought against dastardly amateur guitar-strumming scofflaws who learn to play music from internet tablature ("tab") websites (and eat babies). Link (thanks, AngryHerb)

* "Secret" terror watchlists have nabbed more congressmen than terrorists: Link.

* Members of the American Psychological Association are preparing a "revolt" at the group's next convention to protest what they believe to be psychologists' unconscionable assistance in torture at Guantanamo and other terror-war detainment facilities. Link

* Government officials in Malaysia are considering extending the country's "Printing and Presses Act" to cover blogs and other electronic media. The 1984 law requires all print media in Malaysia to obtain a license and abide by strict regulations, including restrictions on political speech. If the PPA is extended to internet media as well, would bloggers and webmasters need a license, too? Link to news article, here are more links: one, two.

* Websites that use kid-friendly words like "Mickey Mouse" or "Snoopy" to lure traffic but instead feature sexually-explicit content are now subject to felony charges, thanks to a bill approved in the U.S. Senate this week: Link. Free speech proponents say the bill is overly broad, impossible to enforce accurately, could villify law-abiding adult sites, and generally a bad thing for online democracy.

Some bloggers say a provision of the bill means that pulling a goatse (worksafe explanation) could land you in prison for twenty years: Link:

''§ 2252C. Misleading words or digital images on the Internet

''(a) IN GENERAL.–Whoever knowingly embeds words or digital images into the source code of a website with the intent to deceive a person into viewing material constituting obscenity shall be fined under this title and imprisoned for not more than 10 years.

''(b) MINORS.–Whoever knowingly embeds words or digital images into the source code of a website with the intent to deceive a minor into viewing material harmful to minors on the Internet shall be fined under this title and imprisoned for not more than 20 years.

''(c) CONSTRUCTION.–For the purposes of this section, a word or digital image that clearly indicates the sexual content of the site, such as 'sex' or 'porn', is not misleading.

''(d) DEFINITIONS.–As used in this section–HR 4472 EAS

''(1) the terms 'material that is harmful to minors' and 'sex' have the meaning given such terms in section 2252B; and ''(2) the term 'source code' means the combination of text and other characters comprising the content, both viewable and nonviewable, of a web page, including any website publishing language, programming language, protocol or functional content, as well as any successor languages or protocols.''.

(b) TABLE OF SECTIONS.–The table of sections for chapter 110 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 2252B the following:

''2252C. Misleading words or digital images on the Internet.''.

(Thanks, Maxx and many others)

Reader comment: Regarding the legal code cited above, Craig Hughes says,

Now as I read it, that part about "successor languages" means that if you publish content today, and in the future some language or protocol renders that content in a way covered by the law, even if that wasn't your intention when you published — then you're infringing. In other words, if someone were to write a codemonkey extension which displayed a link to whenever it encountered the word "Iraq" on the homepage of the New York Times, then the NYT would be breaking the law. Nifty.