Thursday, August 03, 2006

DOPA - Contact your Senators Soon!!!

H.R. 5319 - The Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) passed the House last week 416-15. The only reason it passed is it's title. The bill tries to protect young people by legislating the blockage of sites like MySpace in schools and libraries. The wording on the bill is very broad and would require the blocking of all commercial websites that keep user profiles, allow journaling, and allow direct communication between users.

Now, to me this sounds like most Web 2.0 sites out there. Some people have been interpreting it in such a way as to include sites like Amazon and eBay. What the House failed to do was even listen to the arguments made against the bill and voted for it because of its name.

Here is a quote from Congressman John Dingell the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee:

"Mr. Speaker, I oppose these Internet predators. My good friend, for whom I have great respect, the chairman of this subcommittee from Michigan, opposes them. Everybody else in the Chamber opposes them. Every right-thinking and decent American opposes this practice. What we need, however, is good legislation which will address the problem. What we need is legislation which will be effective.

The Committee on Energy and Commerce had a number of hearings on these matters. It is interesting to note that, in the process of that, you can't find anything about there being a problem at schools and libraries. Now, this legislation has attracted both the strong opposition of the schools and the libraries and the Chamber of Commerce, which points out to us that this bill needs more work. In other words, Mr. Speaker, this bill is not ready for prime time."

I highly encourage you to read his full statement. He goes on to say he's going to vote for the bill (which he did) out of a political necessity, even though he knows it's a poorly written piece of legislation that will not protect our children.

Now, don't get me wrong. I believe we do need to protect our kids from online predators. I just don't feel that blocking is the way to go. My school already blocks MySpace because it has been deemed to have no educational value. At the same time most of those students interested know how to get around our filters.

What we really need is more money for law enforcement to hunt down these preadators and stiffer punishments. We need to target the predators rather than further burden the educational system.

The bill is now headed off the the Senate. No matter how you feel about this issue you should contact your Senators and let them know.

For further reading I highly recomend:

Energy and Commerce Committee Hearing Witness Transcripts, particularly Beth Yoke Executive Director ALA Young Adult Library Services Association.

David Warlick - - Scroll down and you'll see a number of entries - The article I saw on Digg that made me aware of this.

Technorati Tags: , ,

No comments: