DOPA ain’t so Dope…a?

“It’s good to shut up sometimes.”
-Marcel Marceau

Tizzy! Tizzy! Social Networking! Social Networking! Children… MUST… be… stopped… from learning technology and talking to other kids…. What a silly reaction.  Granted– safety is  BIG issue.  And– how can teachers/librarians keep up on the latest of the latest when they’ve a thousand other things to do.  But shutting ALL sites out that offer peer to peer communication?  Seems a bit… i don’t know… intense.

Read this about DOPA and try and find the right/wrong of it all (i’m STILL trying to figure the lay of the land, and I’ve been thinking about it all morning):

STAFF EDITORIAL: Deleting Online Predators or Deleting Online Teens?
by Larry Magid
August 1, 2006

Last week the House of Representatives passed a well-meaning but ill-conceived piece of Internet safety legislation that could actually make the Internet a more dangerous place for children and teens.

The Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA), approved Wednesday by an overwhelming margin of 410 to 15, now moves on to the Senate. While it’s easy to understand why Congress would approve a bill like this, it is ill-conceived because, rather than “deleting” online predators, it deletes the ability of schools and libraries to determine whether kids can constructively take advantage of social networking and other interactive services that are extremely popular among teens. Maybe the law should be called DOTA (the Deleting Online Teenagers Act)?

…The bill (H.R. 5319) amends the Communications Act of 1934 “to require recipients of universal service support for schools and libraries to protect minors from commercial social networking websites and chat rooms.

“The legislation,” said Tim Lordan, Executive Director of the Internet Education Foundation which advises U.S. lawmakers on technology, “lumps social networking sites and chat rooms with previously blocked sites that are obscene or contain child pornography, as if social networking was somehow the same as those horrendous sites.”The bill defines social networking sites as being “offered by a commercial entity; permits registered users to create an on-line profile that includes detailed personal information, permits registered users to create an on-line journal and share such a journal with other users; elicits highly-personalized information from users; and enables communication among users….”

That covers more than just chat and social networking and could force school and library officials to ban a wide range of sites, including Amazon.com and many news sites that allow for user feedback and interaction.

But even if the bill weren’t overly broad, it would still be troublesome because it is the wrong – and I would argue a dangerous approach – to Internet safety.  While nearly everyone agrees that Internet predators should be “deleted,” this bill doesn’t address that issue. Unlike the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, which the President signed into law on July 21, DOPA does nothing to strengthen penalties or increase prosecution of criminals who prey on children. Instead, it punishes the potential victims and educational institutions chartered to serve them, by denying access to interactive sites at school and libraries.  It would be like trying to protect children from being injured or killed by drunk drivers by ruling that kids can no longer walk, ride a bike or even ride in a car or bus to school…

To read more:
BlogSafety Community: STAFF EDITORIAL: Deleting Online …

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