Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Is a URL the same as a hyperlink in law?: "Two US web sites are testing the limits of a law intended to create a safe internet area for children by setting standards for web sites with names ending .kids.us, including a prohibition on hyperlinks to third party sites. What if a third party URL is not an active link?

"While in no way suggesting that the sites are linking to inappropriate material, the use of text addresses—which a child can simply copy and paste to the address bar of the browser—raises an interesting question on how to interpret the wording of the US Dot Kids Implementation and Efficiency Act of 2002."

"However, as first reported by Links & Law—a legal blog (sometimes called a 'blawg') that reports on deep linking issues—of the six sites currently registered with .kids.us, three do not mention links at all, one indicates that there is a relevant web site where appropriate, while two provide the URL (Uniform Resource Locator), or web address, for suggested sites. No operational links are provided.

The sites concerned, http://www.firstgov.kids.us and http://www.smithsonian.kids.us, refer to innocent third party sites, but the question remains: does providing URLs on a .kids.us site breach the spirit, if not the word, of the Act?"

"John MacKenzie, an IT lawyer with international law firm Masons said: 'The US courts are unlikely to be impressed with technical arguments about the difference between a hyperlink and a URL. The intention of the Act was clearly to provide a safe haven. A judge will likely consider that a signpost to a place of danger is as unacceptable as a means of getting there.'"

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