Friday, July 28, 2006

The Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA)

I'm posting this because what people can access -- and from where -- can change in an instant, if the government creates new rules. Here the U.S. House of Representative has passed the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) and now the U.S. Senate will need to review and vote on the bill. As TechCrunch writes:
If the Resolution becomes law social networking sites and chat rooms must be blocked by schools and libraries or those institutions will lose their federal internet subsidies. According to the resolution's top line summary it will "“amend 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."
TechCrunch (Marshall Kirkpatrick) gives a good summary of the bill and pointers to commentary to read. What stands out to me is that libraries, librarians and teachers have tried to place themselves in places where young people hang out online, as a way of interacting with them and showing them resources that they can tap into. Now it may be that young people will not be able to see those pages or interact with the these people (librarians/teachers) on these social sites when in the library or at school.

And instead of saying that we need to teach young people how to successfully negotiate the online world, we're just going to block access to it and hope that when young people do enter that world that they know what to do. Wouldn't it be better to say "do it here, so I can help you, advice you, and ensure you're okay"?

For those of us involved in creating web sites and online content, there is a message here that says that the playing field can change quickly. What we build may be good today, but may become forbidden in the drop of a hat.

1 comment:

Jeanne said...

The following things stand out to me about this:
1) those students who do not have computer access in their home will suffer the most
2) libraries and schools that are already fighting for every dollar they can get to support kids will now have to spend money preventing access rather than improving it
3) were any studies actually done to determine what percent of internet predators are communicating with kids who are using computers in libraries and schools?

Thank you for posting about this!
Jeanne