Well, It Happened
June 23 has come and gone. A number of companies spent an outrageous amount of time and money getting their records in order much more quickly than was appropriate. A few companies shut their doors entirely. A few others simply ignored the hullablaoo and decided to wait and see.
The most interesting result was the ruling on the case brought by the Free Speech Coalition and a couple of co-plaintiffs against the regulations. As a result of their case, the justice department is prohibited from demanding the records of any company which is a member of the FSC, or a co-plaintiff in the case, until August.
What's amusing is that they are also prohibited from requesting a list of the member companies.
If there is a company they want to investigate, the justice department must submit the company name to the judge, who can check against a sealed listing to determine whether the company in question is a member of the FSC. If so, the investigation will need to be suspended until August.
As you might expect, this has resulted in a rush to join the FSC--which is not a bad idea in any case--but I can't imagine how such a ruling was allowed. It seems to me that the ruling sets a precedent appropriate for any company which has its records examined before the August date. After all, there is no such thing as a special protected class of businesses in this great country of ours. If one group wins the right to some extra time for record management, then that right is automatically accorded to all others.
Either way, I wouldn't want to be associated now with any company whose records are not maintained according to the new regulations. I agree that it was unfair to set such a short deadline for compliance. I agree that the notion of a five to ten year jail term for failing to keep records in the proper format, regardless of whether the information itself is being kept or whether it indicates that any participants were under age, is unconstitutional. I also agree that there is a question whether there are issues regarding the right not to self-incriminate.
But part of being a citizen of a country is adjusting yourself to the local laws. Happily, as a citizen of this particular country, we also have the opportunity to make changes to those laws when they go further than we are willing to adapt.
I mean, it's either that, or move to Canada, right?
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