Congress May Outlaw Hyperlinking

Radley Balko points out a particularly bizarre and odious feature of a bill by Rep. Bob Goodlatte [PDF], which has 115 co-sponsors, seeking to ban Internet gambling.

(3) Relief granted under paragraph (1) against an interactive computer service (as defined in section 230(f) of the Communications Act of 1934) shall–

(A) be limited to the removal of, or disabling of access to, an online site violating this section, or a hypertext link to an online site violating this section, that resides on a computer server that such service controls or operates; except this limitation shall not apply if the service is violating this section or is in active concert with a person who is violating this section and receives actual notice of the relief. [p. 15]

So, not only would running an online gambling site be illegal–which is largely academic, since the companies running them are mostly in the Caribbean or the British Isles–but websites that even hyperlink to them could be taken down?

That’s going to go over well. . . .

FILED UNDER: Congress, Uncategorized,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. McGehee says:

    I already delete online gambling links. I get them all the time as trackback spam.

    Maybe if this goes through I’ll let up, just to see how far these idiots federal prosecutors are willing to push the envelope.

  2. John Burgess says:

    One gambling link? I get hundreds a week trying to poke their noses into my blog comments! Were anyone to suggest a nuclear attack on those guys, I’d think it underkill.

    Luckily, I’ve got a pretty good program to defeat comment spam, but they still sneak through every now and then.

  3. Yhoi says:

    Its great to see a patriotic, free market conservative Republican like Bob Goodlatte is doing his best to increase government intervention in the marketplace and discourage entrepreneurialism.

  4. bryan says:

    I think your headline is a little misleading. Are you angling for a job at Associated Press? 😉

  5. For the gambling sites, I would step out of character to support a large gov’t program to track down the parties responsible, shoot them, bring them back to life, hang them until dead, re-animate them and then burn them at the stake.

  6. James Joyner says:

    Bryan: It’s not misleading at all. If they can outlaw hyperlinking to a video poker site, they can outlaw hyperlinking anything. They’re not targetting spammers–who put stuff up on others’ websites without permission–but site owners.

  7. You’re going to jail, James.