THE IMAGE you see below was the first page of my biography at my website, TomBianchi.com. for the last seven years. This short version of my life from birth to graduation from law school told what I saw as most relevant about who I am. Recently, the company that provides banking services to my site (they collect membership subscriptions) informed me that this was a picture of an underage person and had to be removed. A law known as 18 U.S.C. 2257 has made companies like my banking agent the censoring instruments of the State. I was told that any representation of any kind of a minor is banned if it is associated with an “adult” site. Period.
The law requires me, among other things, to keep photo IDs of anyone I shoot on file (together with myriad other data) and place statements that I am in compliance with the law in my work. The law is intended to require me to prove that I am not abusing children, I think. But rather than frontally dealing with that issue, it has created a body of laymen censors who restrict speech—speech that unquestionably is protected by the Constitution—as they attempt to interpret an incomprehensible set of rules under a draconian law.