Is there a legal difference between a
hyperlink and a URL?
2002 The United States Senate passed the Dot Kids Implementation and Enforcement
Act of 2002 (HR 3833), which established an Internet domain (.kids.us) as a
kids-friendly area on the World Wide Web. NeuStar, Inc., has been appointed to be the administrator of the
kids.us domain name space by the DoC to operate a shared registrations system, domain
name servers, and other
equipment for the kids.us second-level domain (For more information see the Laws
and Regulations section).
Because there is no foolproof method for protecting children online at this
time, the kids.us Act specifies limitations put on specific technologies
commonly used on the Internet today. Hyperlinks that take a user outside of the kids.us
domain are prohibited from use
in any kids.us domain.
The website http://www.minnesota.kids.us/
lists several attractions in Minnesota that might be of interest for kids, e.g.
museums. If a museum has a website, the site is mentioned, but no link is
provided (e.g. Bakken Library and Museum: You have
probably seen a movie in which Dr. Frankenstein catches lightning to shock a
body to life. However, what happens with electricity and magnetism and the human
body in real life? The answers may shock you! Lots of people have
little machines in them that use electricity to help their hearts beat better.
Find out all about electricity, magnetism, medicine, and history at the Bakken
Library and Museum.... Check out at their website or
give them a call at 612-926-3878 for more information.)
Two other websites seem
to have found a way around the restriction not to hyperlink. Instead of
providing hyperlinks they merely provide the URL. See http://www.smithsonian.kids.us/president/gallery/links.cfm
(e.g. The American Presidency - http://americanhistory.si.edu/presidency/index.html) and
(America's Story (http://www.americaslibrary.gov/cgi-bin/page.cgi) - Discover the stories of
America's past.Jump back in time, meet amazing Americans, explore the states and
Are these two websites
in contradiction to the no hyperlinks regulation? Well, a "hyperlink" is generally a word or a picture that can be
activated by a click of the mouse to transport the user to another website. That
is not the case here, but there is no great difference between a URL and a
hyperlink. There is no reason to believe kids wont be able to reach the websites
mentioned even if there is no hyperlink. Copy and Paste and the job is done.
Sure, the mentioned websites outside the .kids.us domain probably wont be
harmful to minors, but where is the sense in prohibiting hyperlinks when you
allow the posting of URL's? We already have several software programs that
recognize a URL and automatically convert it into a hyperlink (e.g. Word or
Front Page). Are there already browsers out there that can do the same
Can there be another
legal approach to a hyperlink than to a URL? I don't think so. The legislator
didn't want kids to find an easy way to a website outside the kids.us. domain. So
hyperlinks were not allowed. On the one hand the idea of creating a safe haven
for kids on the internet would already be at its end, if the law is not construed in a way that it also
prohibits the posting of URL's. On the other hand there are serious concerns
that a wide interpretation of the law could violate the First Amendment. NeuStar,
Inc. did not answer an e-mail asking for their point of view on the topic.
Several other websites
also prohibit their users from posting hyperlinks, especially dating and auction
e.g. prohibits links to websites outside the ebay-Domain. Their
If you have an opinion
on the matter, don't hesitate to tell
me. I will post some reactions here.
The Links & Law
website is updated regularily,
so check back for updated
information and resources about
search engine and linking issues.