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May 10, 2006

Proposed Fed Law Targets MySpace and Similar Sites

Since we're running an in loco parentis theme today, CNET is reporting on proposed federal legislation that would require schools and libraries to filter out social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook.  The legislation is so broad in wording that, according to the report, has the potential to also ban some blogger sites, some instant messaging features, and a live chat feature in Microsoft's Xbox 360 online service.

The Bill is called the Deleting Online Predators Act, or DOPA.  The article suggests that part of the motivation for the bill, aside from saving children from predators, is to score points with the more conservative voters back home.  There may be some truth to this even though the act's acronym reminds one more of a drug associated with Parkinson's Disease rather than child predator issues.  DOPA amends the Telecommunications Act of 1934 and adds to the requirements of the Children's Internet Protection Act, or CIPA.  That act was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in its requirements of web filters in federally funded schools and libraries.  If we add the Child Online Protection Act, or COPA, to the mix, we can probably get a Barry Manilow song out of all of this.

Representatives from the American Library Association and the National Association of Secondary School Principals are quoted in statements expressing concern over the legislation, sounding somewhat torn between protecting children or the First Amendment, as if these were the only choices.

Should this go forward, the big loser will likely be Rupert Murdoch and News Corp., who bought MySpace recently.  The site has a cool factor of about a zillion with teens and pre-teens even though the latter aren't supposed to be there.  Depriving children of their sites during school hours means reduced click throughs and reduced ad revenues.  Fewer dollars will change hands but the children will be saved.  How can anyone except the people with the hands full of dollars not like that?   

The proposed legislation is here from the link in the story by the always excellent reporter Declan McCullagh.  Declan, how do you find this stuff before anyone else?

May 10, 2006 | Permalink

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