DOPA: or more evidence that they don’t get the Net

May 20, 2006 at 7:14 pm Leave a comment

Bloggers have been discussing this for over a week, so I'm a bit behind. This law in effect would do more than any spokespersons from congress have stated publically. Whether thay don't realize the far reaching impact — a possibility – or they actually want to control and damage the internet to this extent is something I can't guess.
From the law itself:

Search Results – THOMAS (Library of Congress)

`(i) is enforcing a policy of Internet safety for minors that includes monitoring the online activities of minors and the operation of a technology protection measure with respect to any of its computers with Internet access that–`(I) protects against access through such computers to visual depictions that are–

`(aa) obscene;

`(bb) child pornography; or

`(cc) harmful to minors; and

`(II) prohibits access to a commercial social networking website or chat room through which minors–

`(aa) may easily access or be presented with obscene or indecent material;

`(bb) may easily be subject to unlawful sexual advances, unlawful requests for sexual favors, or repeated offensive comments of a sexual nature from adults; or

`(cc) may easily access other material that is harmful to minors; and'.

There are problems galore with this legislation, worse than there were/are with CIPA. The stated intention, to protect children from sexual predators, is a noble one. It is a cause that no one can object to. However, it is overly broad. Others in the blogosphere are speaking to this with much more authority and knowledge than I. The legislation would make it illegal for kids to view 4 letter words (text on a screen is an image), even if posted by the kids themselves and anatomy diagrams.

Ultimately, this is another example of legislators attempting to legislate technical solutions to social problems. This approach does not work. Predators have simply updated their means of access. I'm not a parent, so I cannot credibly tell parents what they need to do. I can, however state that inducing fear rather than defensive smart behavior isn't helping anyone. Take away one avenue for criminal behavior — the criminals will find another avenue. They always have and always will. Legislation needs to focus upon citizen behavior.

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Entry filed under: Internet, Intranets, Knowledge Management, Social Networks, User behavior.

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