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WARNING: THIS WEBSITE MAY CONTAIN SEXUAL MATERIAL OR MATERIAL OBJECTIONABLE TO CHILDREN AND BIG BROTHER

February 15th, 2007 | by Ken Grandlund |

Thanks to Senator “Bridge To Nowhere” Ted Stevens, the above message may be required to be placed prominently on the first page or any subsequent pages on any website, including blogs or any other ’social networking’ site that might contain sexual material.

It’s all included in S.49, called the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act, aka DOPA Jr. (DOPA was the Deleting Online Predators Act that died in the Senate last session.) While protecting children from online predators is a good and noble goal, this is a bill that goes too far, for not only does it attempt to crack down on internet child pornography (the good part) it also launches a frontal assault on the online community that has emerged in the form of personal websites, chat rooms, even contributer based information sites like Wikipedia.

At issue is Title II of the proposed act which would prohibit schools and public libraries from accessing commercial social networking sites unless used for educational purposes with adult supervision. The law would prevent any school or library receiving federal funding for internet subsidies from allowing ’social networking’ sites to be accessed from school computers. Such a law would almost certainly require schools to increase their computer filtering capabilities, essentially locking classroom teachers out of any online educational sites that are determined to fall under the ’social networking’ definition. A definition so broad that it could include just about anything.

Under the bill, a commission (of unelected individuals) would use this criteria to determine whether a website would be defined as a ’social networking’ site:

-is 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.

Buh-bye Wikipedia. Buh-bye online publishing sites. Buh-bye search engines. Think I’m kidding? Here’s a comment from reader Vickey on the PBS article (2nd link in this post):

“In our district the blocking and restrictions have already arrived. This is the message our district puts out as we search on the computers and reach a restricted site:
Web based email is not filtered for content and may contain as attachments, inappropriate images or other undesirable content.
Search Engines
Major search engines (MSN, Yahoo!, Ask, Dogpile, AltaVista, etc…) often cache or proxy inappropriate material, they also link to inappropriate sites. We do not block Google, feel free to use Google to search the internet.
Unknown Sites
These fall under the “better safe than sorry” category.
Streaming Media
With the exception of purposed “education” sites, streaming media (audio and video) is blocked for two reasons, inappropriate content and severe bandwidth limitations
Social Networking
Unmoderated social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook are blocked because there is no “responsible” party involved in what content is displayed
Lyrics, Music, Poetry, etc…
Sites that offer content for free are typically in violation of the intellectual property holder’s copright, and as such need to be blocked.”

So far, the bill is in the early stages, so we don’t need to get too worked up quite yet. But we do need to watch and see where this goes. Anything deemed ‘for the children’ can gain popularity, especially in the run up to presidential elections.

But is this really about protecting children or about regulating and limiting the effectiveness of the online community? After all, the world of ’social interactive’ websites has been very vocal in protecting free speech as well as highlighting the excesses, abuses, and mistakes of the government and their corporate benefactors.

This bill can do nothing to prevent child pornography on the internet- much of it comes from abroad. It will do nothing to prevent predators from gaining access to children either. It will not regulate private schools that don’t take federal funds for internet programs, leaving wealthier districts (and by caveat, wealthier families and children) with an advantage to access information and educational materials. And by extending the law into public libraries, places widely used by adults and children, this law would unnecessarily limit access to information and social networking by adults too.

There ia a better way to protect children than to decrease their exposure to information. It’s called parental guidance.

And there are better ways to eliminate child predators. They’re called law enforcement and stiff prison terms.

Of course, if the goal is to silence free speech and stifle the flow of information between people, this bill looks great!

[tag]S.49, Senator+Ted+Stevens, internet+restrictions, online+predators, freedom+of+ speech, Big+Brother, sex+on+the+internet[/tag]

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  1. 8 Responses to “WARNING: THIS WEBSITE MAY CONTAIN SEXUAL MATERIAL OR MATERIAL OBJECTIONABLE TO CHILDREN AND BIG BROTHER”

  2. By Tom Baker on Feb 15, 2007 | Reply

    You know Ken, how come we’re always accused of wanting a Nanny State, yet we’re the ones that say parents should be responsible for their kids. It’s conservative hypocrisy at it’s finest! Anyone stupid enough to support this bill shouldn’t be allowed to have kids to “endanger” in the first place. 

  3. By elementskater on Feb 15, 2007 | Reply

    These politicians don’t really care about protecting children, they care about increasing their power. Well, that’s there ultimate goal anyway. 

    It’s the same thing Bush has done by constantly holding “terrorist attacks” (that don’t happen) over our heads. The result? Bush is able to get away with violating the Constitution dozens of times in the past number of years.

    It’s just an excuse so that the government can regulate the Internet more and more. Legislation like this scares me, it threatens the very integrity of a free Internet.

     

  4. By SteveIL on Feb 15, 2007 | Reply

    Tom Baker said:

    It’s conservative hypocrisy at it’s finest!

    I don’t think it’s just conservative hypocrisy.  I seem to remember liberal Al Gore (along with former Sec. of State and ISG member, James Baker), and their wives, trying to censor music lyrics back in the 80s through that putrefaction called the PMRC (I’ll never forgive the Gores for this, nor Baker).

    By the way, I’m against this bill as written.  Good call, Ken.

    On a related note, there was a 20/20 show that dealt with a teenager who had one of those child predator GPS tracking bracelets on him (or whatever they’re called).  Law enforcement tracked some child porn to this kids computer, got a warrant, and sure enough found the porn on it.  To make a long story short, it was proven the kid didn’t put it on there, that the child porn was automatically installed on his computer through one of those uploaded autorun programs that came through the internet under the covers.  I forget if it took months or a couple of years to clear this kid’s name, but he and his family went through hell.  This bill, as written, wouldn’t do anything to protect someone else from this kind of harassment.

  5. By steve on Feb 15, 2007 | Reply

    They should put a disclaimer up on Liberal blogs that says:

    DISCLAIMER:

    OUR OPINIONS CAN NEVER CHANGE AND THOUGH IRRATIONAL AT TIMES, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO ECONOMICS AND TAXES, WE ARE ALL KNOWING AND ANY OPINION THAT IS OPPOSITE OF OURS HAS ALREADY BEEN PROVEN WRONG BY AL FRANKEN, AL GORE, NANCY PELOSI AND BARBARA BOXER.  THERE IS NO GOD, THERE WAS NO JESUS, AND ALL REPUBLICANS ARE PEDOPHILES.

    PRAISE BE TO DARWIN, PLEASE DRIVE A HYBRID. 

  6. By Lazy Iguana on Feb 15, 2007 | Reply

    SteveIL - I thought the PMRC crap was more of a Tipper Gore thing than an Al Gore thing? And if this was the case, what was Al supposed to do? Bitch slap his woman and remind her the Bible says that women must submit to the husband, and not speak unless spoken to? 

    Anyhow the PMRC is old news. All it did was help album sales. Any album without the PMRC approved sticker simply did not sell. The BEST THING that happened to 2 Live Crew was the PMRC. Once their record, which was pretty much only known in South Florida, was featured in the national news the money rolled in for them.

    But the bottom line is that kids are NOT as dumb as Senators from Alaska. They can figure out how to get around filters. When I worked in a school, I had a middle school student show me how I can access my personal email without worrying about the school’s internal filter that was supposed to block email.

    Like the PMRC sticker, the “site access blocked” screen will only make kids want to get to that site more. They will figure out how to get around the filter. America’s youth is good at stuff like that. The best filter? The teacher. Here is what I did.

    1. Plug the classroom ethernet cable into a wireless router.

    2. Cheap wireless adapters on the computers.

    3. When I wanted to shut the internet down - unplug the router. Someone was on a website that had nothing to do with school? Unplug the router. Not going to be in the classroom for a day? Unplug the router and lock it in the desk.

    Really - it was not that hard. You would think I am some sort of genius. Someone ought to update the old fart from Alaska on the subject of technology. And tell him to stop smoking the DOPA. If he is high he might not see the polar bear till it is too late. 

  7. By Joe Snitty on Feb 16, 2007 | Reply

    Free speech is fine just so long as we can keep it under strict government control. ;)

  8. By SteveIL on Feb 16, 2007 | Reply

    Off topic.

    Lazy Iguana said:

    SteveIL - I thought the PMRC crap was more of a Tipper Gore thing than an Al Gore thing? 

    Well, he did set up a “committee” to have hearings on it, due to the PMRC, and his wife (and James Baker’s wife; they aren’t off the hook either).  Another wonderful use of the taxpayer’s money, influenced by the wife of a U.S. Senator.  Yeah.

    And if this was the case, what was Al supposed to do? Bitch slap his woman and remind her the Bible says that women must submit to the husband, and not speak unless spoken to?

    Bitch slapping Tipper is a little harsh, as well as unacceptable and illegal.  If he wanted to be somewhat less destructive he could have ignored her or told her to shut up.  Or, he could have been constructive about it by reminding her of a little thing called the 1st Amendment, something he is required to uphold as a U.S. Senator.

    Regardless of how much it helped the recording industry, that whole incident was wrong.  And it was hysterical that it was John Denver that verbally “bitch slapped” Sen. Gore during the hearings. 

    On topic.

    Lazy Iguana,

    I’m glad you found some constructive methods that didn’t require an act of Congress.

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