In 1995 Time magazine published a cover story about online pornography that gave grandstanding politicians an excuse to try to censor the Internet. The politicians would have succeeded, if it weren't for the efforts of civil libertarians, especially Mike Godwin, who was staff counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation at the time.
The "Cyberporn" article was written by Philip Elmer-DeWitt, who relied almost exclusively on a research paper that was completely fraudulent. Elmer-DeWitt is now a writer for Fortune, and he wrote an essay about how his "Cyberporn" article nearly ruined him:
The problem with the story, which I sensed as I was writing it but was too green, too ambitious, too scared of losing my cover slot to address, was the news hook—the “report coming out this week” that I’d pitched to the editors as a Time Magazine exclusive guaranteed to make a splash.
The report—an undergraduate research paper published in a law journal—made a splash all right, but not the kind that reflected well on me or the magazine.
It was immediately attacked from several quarters. By civil liberties groups who saw it as an assault on free speech. By academics who saw through its tissue thin methodology. By sociologists who disputed its most provocative thesis, duly reported in Time, that the market for online porn was driven by a demand for images that couldn’t be found in the average magazine rack: Pedophilia (nude photos of children), hebephilia (youths) and paraphilia—a grab bag of “deviant” material that includes images of bondage, sadomasochism, urination, defecation, and sex acts with animals.
One Time researcher assigned to my story remembers the study as “one of the more shameful, fear-mongering and unscientific efforts that we ever gave attention to.”
Assigned to covertly observe and, if necessary, violently protect air travelers on flights which include passengers on a TSA terrorist watch list or on routes that are considered to have a higher probability of coming under attack in a terrorist action, federal air marshals have been a fixture on many flights since the September 11th […]
One of the best reasons to buy a piece of Apple hardware, in my opinion, is the company’s history of protecting the privacy of its customers. Provided you’re not a customer living in China. You may recall that, a while back, iOS users in China lost the ability to download most VPN clients to their […]
From our friends at EFF: “A handy guide designed to be printed, folded, and carried in your pocket while traveling.” See also: EFF presents: a guide to protecting your data privacy when crossing the US border
These days, there isn’t much our iPhone camera can’t do – except feel like an actual phone. Despite years of steadily increasing resolution and image sensing technology, we’re still taking shots awkwardly with two hands, fumbling for the shutter button. Leave it to an avid photographer to design Shuttercase, a versatile iPhone case that solves […]
Still determined to keep those New Year’s health resolutions? If you’re going to stick with the exercise plan, it’s enough of a challenge to budget your time. No need for your financial budget to take a hit, too. Here’s a more convenient – and cheaper – alternative to a gym membership or Peloton bike: Two […]
Want a career in web design? It’s true that these days, most anyone can throw up a page or two. But for true workhorse web design, you’ll sometimes need to match the platform to the project. Enter the Complete Front-End Developer Bundle, an educational grand tour around the best tools for the web. For beginners, […]