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House Passes Ban on Social Site Access 681

Posted by Zonk
from the freedom-of-choice dept.
Krishna Dagli writes to mention a C|Net story covering a House of Representatives vote on restricting access to social sites on public terminals. The bill, which passed the House in a 410-15 vote, would bar users from accessing sites like Amazon, MySpace, or Slashdot from terminals in libraries and schools. Adults would be able to 'ask permission' to access such sites. From the article: "'Social networking sites, best known by the popular examples of MySpace, Friendster and Facebook, have literally exploded in popularity in just a few short years,' said Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican and one of DOPA's original sponsors. Now, he added, those Web sites 'have become a haven for online sexual predators who have made these corners of the Web their own virtual hunting ground.'"
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House Passes Ban on Social Site Access

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  • by dido (9125) <dido@@@imperium...ph> on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:28AM (#15799003)

    Strange I didn't hear a thing...

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:29AM (#15799018)
    "Sorry little poor kid, you can't access myspace on the library computer. Maybe if your mom hadn't pawned your computer for crack, you could be popular too."

    Why not just kick them in the face while you're at it?

    -Eric (former poor kid)

    • by joe 155 (937621) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:38AM (#15799129) Journal
      good point, it would disadvantage poorer people unfairly. You also come close to one other point that I thought when I read the article, why let children use a computer on their own in their own house but not in a public place... when was the last time you ever heard of a peadophile convincing a child to get naked on a web cam in a library?

      If parents can't be bothered to take an interest in their children (which the House seems to think that they can't) then why not let someone else prevent this - assuming of course that this is ever a serious issue anyway; I remain convinced that it is just a very rare exception.
      • by jcasper (972898) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:58AM (#15799321)
        why let children use a computer on their own in their own house but not in a public place...
        Funny that this discrepancy is inadvertently brought out by one of the bill's supporters:

        "Social networking sites such as MySpace and chat rooms have allowed sexual predators to sneak into homes and solicit kids," said Rep. Ted Poe, a Texas Republican and co-founder of the Congressional Victim's Rights Caucus. "This bill requires schools and libraries to establish (important) protections."
    • That is, of course, a strawman. There is already standing precedent for the legality of preventing minors from accessing materials deemed, by law, to be potentially harmful. Your comment really hits the nail on the head: if parents have a problem with this, they can provide their own resources from which the child can find entertainment.

      Note, specifcically, that if there can be a case made that there is any educational benefit from accessing a restricted site, the restriction is to be removed.

      So, in effect,
      • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday July 28, 2006 @12:11PM (#15799449)

        That is, of course, a strawman. There is already standing precedent for the legality of preventing minors from accessing materials deemed, by law, to be potentially harmful.

        This is not doing that however, This is preventing minors from using public resources to access material that may be harmful, while not banning them from accessing those same materials in other locations. It is a fairly important distinction.

        So, in effect, the entire whiny, misunderstood complaint here is "it's unfair that children are being barred from accessing, via public systems, non-educational sites which could potentially cause them harm".

        I think that is a valid complaint. Every Web page contains information, whether you deem it educational or not. Maybe it is educating me about the colors preferred by teenagers or about the psychology of groupies. Similarly, every Web page is potentially harmful. Maybe commas look a lot like sperm which will permanently scar a child and destroy their future relationships. We don't have any proof to the contrary so lets think of the children and ban them unless they can come up with an "educational" reason they need to see pages with commas.

        Both the harmfulness and the educational benefits of any given sight are very subjective and this type of legislation is harmful or useless except for one thing. It convinces people politicians care and is a way to get votes from emotionally driven, infantile voters.

        I don't question that the educational value of MySpace is pretty much the same as hitting yourself in the face with a brick.

        I see, well why don't we make you the gatekeeper for all media to decide what is and is not appropriate for Americans to see. Or maybe we shouldn't.

        This is not a violation of rights by even the most ridiculous stretch of the imagination.

        Yes it is. It is making it harder for me to view certain Websites in the library and not others. It is intentionally restricting my and everyone else's access to certain information.

    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:56AM (#15799305) Homepage
      Yeah, it's pretty sad how this solely affects public web access, which seems to me to be the least likely place for anyone to do the kinds of things they are worried about, whether victim or predator. If they tried, wouldn't the possibility of someone looking over their shoulder and seeing it be a good thing? Instead we're actually going to force them to go into their rooms (with the door shut of course) where nobody (certainly not the parents) is watching. Now obviously the public library/school web terminals are the only thing they really have the power to restrict, so the fact that it is utterly stupid and detrimental and as you note discriminatory is really only a sad side effect of the typical politician's desire to be seen doing SOMETHING, no matter how idiotic.

      Yet it does make me worry about what's next, when they stop just worrying about "virtual" hunting grounds.

      Sorry kid, no public parks and playgrounds for you, a sexual predator might find you!
      Sorry kid, no public pools, kids in bathing suits are like chum in shark infested waters!
      You know, public libraries have dark corners, so no more free books for you!

      The conspiratorial part of me could even see at being part of the larger assault against public services in general.

      Oh, but wait, I just realized, I need to THINK OF THE CHILDREN, and so all my objections are moot. And you, you cad, don't you care about the children?
      • The conspiratorial part of me could even see at being part of the larger assault against public services in general.

        The conspiratorial part of me thinks that it's an assault against the freedom of the internet in general. Once this is in place it will be the turn of political websites etc. Eventually all you'll be able to do from a public access terminal is watch Fox and CNN and send fanmail to Bill O'Reilly.

        I've said it before and I'll say it again: This time is the golden age of the internet. That period
  • Evil (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Umbral Blot (737704) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:29AM (#15799019) Homepage
    Obviously this law just screams out to be abused. Who defines when a site is social? Does the Democratic party have a forum? I bet that makes them social enough to be blocked. On the other hand though they are blocking MySpace, so this law does have some redeeming qualities.
    • Re:Evil (Score:4, Funny)

      by ackthpt (218170) * on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:47AM (#15799223) Homepage Journal

      Obviously this law just screams out to be abused. Who defines when a site is social? Does the Democratic party have a forum? I bet that makes them social enough to be blocked. On the other hand though they are blocking MySpace, so this law does have some redeeming qualities.

      Forgive me Congress, for I have sinned. I have had impure thoughts that you lot are trying to control the minds of the people. I was greatly disturbed to see the margin of passage as 410-15. But I see I was wrong now. Clearly the people cannot be allowed to think for themselves and anything they wish to do may be construed as a possible connection to the sinister. I beseech thee to absolve me of my moment of falling from grace.

      does the offering basket take PayPal?

    • Help? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:53AM (#15799281) Homepage Journal
      My own sites tend to have text boxes for reader comments and guestbooks and things, does this make them havens for sexual predators? Because it'd be terribly unfair if underage kids could somehow get a date through my web presence while I still can't.
  • by Spazntwich (208070) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:29AM (#15799025)
    We desperately need the current generation of senior citizens to die off. That, or we need to make voting significantly more accessible to informed people who have shit to do.

    These boneheaded politicians have fucked our country in so many ways in the past 6 years alone it's almost inconceivable, and there's no light at the end of the tunnel.
    • If politics mattered so much to you, you'd take the time to vote, rather than bitch about inaccessibility for "informed people who have shit to do." Evidently, since you have shit to do *other* than politics, you are content to delegate to those people who will gladly worry about politics for you.

      To paraphrase Trotsky--you might not be interested in politics, but politics is certainly interested in YOU.

      • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrotherNO@SPAMoptonline.net> on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:49AM (#15799249) Journal
        If politics mattered so much to you, you'd take the time to vote, rather than bitch about inaccessibility for "informed people who have shit to do." Evidently, since you have shit to do *other* than politics, you are content to delegate to those people who will gladly worry about politics for you.

        Perhaps it is because it's Friday, but I don't remember the parent mentioning their voting/not voting. One would like to believe that anyone that passionate about the subject does in fact vote. I know I do, but the parent has a point: a lot of people vote who a) follow strictly party lines no matter what, b) vote for "the nice people who left that flyer at my house," or c) don't have a clue what or who is on the ballot but are going to vote anyway.

        The people who don't vote are the people you have to convince when it comes to issues. Groups that vote tend to be polarized, and you can pretty much tell which way they will lean in an election. It's the non-voter that holds the real power, if you can find an issue which fires them up enough to get them to the polls. The problem is, you just never know what that issue is.

    • As a 53 year old, I wish it was just the 'old' politicians that were into taking our freedoms away. Unfortunately, there is a new, younger generation that are ready to take over. Just check out any young Republicans club and see for yourself.
      • by DarkDragonVKQ (881472) * on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:37AM (#15799117)
        That's because it's not really a matter of the old generation holding onto their ways (no insult at all). It's that people continue to teach children, friends, etc.. misguided views. And then some of those people turn into politicans. So we see the same old shit every 4 years. As I read somewhere as a politican joke. The only two basis of politics are that Democrats have no new ideas. And Republicans just have bad ideas. Nothing ever changes.
        • That's because it's not really a matter of the old generation holding onto their ways (no insult at all). It's that people continue to teach children, friends, etc.. misguided views.

          I think there's been a growing tide of greed, fear, and intolerance in this country, and it has nothing to do with generations. I grew up in the 60s, and ever since I've always been disappointed that the spirit of activism and involvement that flourished then seems to have died out among the young.

          One reason for this is that pol
  • by DrWho520 (655973) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:29AM (#15799026) Journal
    If slashdot is grouped with MySpace does that mean we are also a haven for online sexual predators? Personally, I stick to making women my own uncomfortable.
  • Slashdot?? (Score:5, Funny)

    by HugePedlar (900427) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:30AM (#15799033) Homepage
    "...would bar users from accessing sites like Amazon, MySpace, or Slashdot.....[which] ....have become a haven for online sexual predators who have made these corners of the Web their own virtual hunting ground."

    Of course, because preteen girls are well known for associating themselves with this particular social network.
  • by onallama (515297) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:30AM (#15799036)
    Apparently no bill is too stupid if it's for the sake of the children...
  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:30AM (#15799037) Homepage Journal

    Now, he added, those Web sites 'have become a haven for online sexual predators who have made these corners of the Web their own virtual hunting ground.'

    People might also get together and discuss anything else, including unpopular wars, politics (including bills to viloate privacy, violate basic civil rights and interfer with the 'free market' and communications) or the corporate predators who back them.

    i welcome you to the new america. leave your conscience at the door.

  • Shouldn't this be in the Won't-someone-please-think-of-the-children department?

  • from a public terminal. Sexual Predators: How to Recognize Them on the Internet and on the Street. How to Keep Your Kids Away. [amazon.com] I guess the best I can do now is keep them away from politicans and teach them to vote for people that aren't idiots.
  • by tehcyder (746570) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:33AM (#15799063) Journal
    From TFA
    the popular examples of MySpace, Friendster and Facebook, have literally exploded
  • by Killjoy_NL (719667) <slashdot @ r e m c o . p a l li.nl> on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:33AM (#15799065)
    Some weird guy (or gal?) who wanted to root my server.

    I was so scared ;)

    (S)he also said something about a basement, but that's when I went offline
  • Overly broad. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DragonPup (302885) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:34AM (#15799081)
    This won't survive a court challenge.
    • I seem to recall a Supreme Court decision that overturned a similar bill that tried to force public libraries to install porn filters on computers. The court declared it the same brand of censorship as forbidding libraries from lending out certain types of books. Of course, I also seem recall my last visit to the LA Public Library, where a guy was grinning ear to ear as he surfed porn right there on a public terminal. The Library's solution was to install polarizing filters on the displays so that you coul
    • Re:Overly broad. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JianTian13 (525365)
      Doesn't matter. OK, well it does, but...

      I'd be willing to bet the legislators know this. Contrary to popular belief, and indeed, all evidence to the contrary, politicians aren't actually morons -- they're hypocrites, liars, adulterers, gangsters, perjurers, alcoholics, con artists, drug addicts, and murderers -- but they're usually not stupid.

      They win even when the laws overturned. They get credit for "thinking of the children", and "doing something about it", and/i> they get to blame "activist jud
  • by QuantumRiff (120817) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:35AM (#15799083)
    While most admins (including me) will be disgusted at the "protecting us from ourselves" aspect, as well as taking away free choice, this will really help the schools and libraries with their bandwith consumption. Some of the school and Library admins I know say that Myspace.com now accounts for over 50% of their traffic, with its stupid embedded music/videos.

  • Ban Housing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Botia (855350) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:36AM (#15799100)
    Why don't they just ban housing. That's where most child abuse takes place.

    Seriously, though, the abuse, etc. should be a criminal offense, not something that might be related in some way. For example, guns should be legal; murder should not be. Credit cards should be legal; fraud should not be.
  • Libraries (Score:3, Insightful)

    by oahazmatt (868057) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:39AM (#15799135) Journal
    I don't really see this as much of a change in libraries, at least around here. In high school, the staff made regular patrols of the computers in the library, and the few computers that did have internet connections (back in 93-97 we were still required to use things called 'books') were heavily monitored. If you were, at a passing glance, at something that was notcibly not a research site, then you were told to get out.

    When I worked in my college's library, the first rule regarding the computers was that anyone having to write a report got preference over anyone else. Anyone doing research came next. Anyone who wanted to check their e-mail or do anythng else had to beg for access.

    And our public libraries have a very strict system as well. You have to sign up for a computer at the front desk, and depending on what you are doing (and the staff makes sweeps) you are given a time to use the computer. If you're excuse is "just checking e-mail" you get ten minutes. And they enforce that.

    We still have a cyber-cafe and a few hotspots in the area. Denny's will let you sit at the counter for hours and leech their connection for nothing more than a soda.

    Library computers should be reserved for research.
    • Re:Libraries (Score:3, Insightful)

      by segfault_0 (181690)

      I understand the facilities concern, bandwidth can be expensive - but putting that aside, i think public terminals payed for with taxpayer money should be available for extracurricular use. There really are people out there who cant afford a computer, let alone internet access and to reiterate 1000 posts before me - we shouldn't put them at a disadvantage for being poor. If the library is only for research we should throw out any book that is strictly for entertainment purposes - only keeping textbooks, res

  • sex or politics? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:41AM (#15799161) Homepage Journal
    I don't know anything about MySpace, but Amazon and /.? In my years here, I don't believe I have ever seen any real sexual comments left by anyone (I browse at +4 though.) I often see hot political and technical debates here though.

    Why are people allowing the politicians to treat them as if they are children, is the majority of people really feeling that their government must protect them from everything that could be even remotely upsetting, or is it just the politicians, playing on the feelings of few to limit the rights of many?

    Blocking school and library access to many sites like /. for example will not do a thing to stop criminals from molesting children, so what is the real issue here? Is some politician trying to make a name for himself, or is there some other issue that is hidden inside the bill?

    (I live in Canada, still feel bad for the neighbours losing their rights AND concerned that this madness can quickly cross the border.)
  • Major Problem? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BenjyD (316700) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:43AM (#15799183)
    "Social networking sites such as MySpace and chat rooms have allowed sexual predators to sneak into homes and solicit kids,"

    Does anyone have any figures for how many kids have actually been solicited compared to those who are molested by family etc?
    • Re:Major Problem? (Score:3, Informative)

      by CheshireCatCO (185193)

      This [csudh.edu] provides some stats, although the methods are a bit dodgy, I think.

      Also, this [9news.com]

      It isn't clear to me what fraction of kids get solicited by adult predators (rather than fellow teens near their own ages), nor is it clear what fraction actually have any real trouble with it beyond just blocking the person. But do note that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys will be "sexually exploited" overall.

    • Canadian statistics (Score:5, Informative)

      by freeweed (309734) on Friday July 28, 2006 @02:17PM (#15800629)
      There was a rash of news stories a few months back up here in the Great White North. Some poor kid got abducted and as it was a slow news day (WWIII hadn't broken out yet), the media was awash with abduction stories.

      Apparenly last year in Canada there were something like 30,000 cases of child abduction. Might not be the exact number, but it was in the tens of thousdands. OMG THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!! The news stories focussed on what laws we need, how we can save the children, how the Internet is a bad place, don't let your chilren do anything in public without you, blah blah blah.

      In only ONE of the news stories did ANYONE talk about just who was doing the abducting. Of course, it was pretty much always the parents or some other family member. This story had a very short summary of how many kids in Canada last year were abducted by complete strangers:

      5.

      That's right, FIVE. We're about to re-write our laws, do some stupid reactionary crap, demonize the Internet, lock our kids in protective bubbles, because 5 kids got abducted. Never mind the 29,995 taken by their parents, we don't have to worry about those!

      Incidentally, we just had our first Amber Alert(TM) here in Calgary. The city used the Emergency Broadcast System for this. Considering we've had several tornado warnings lately, it scared the hell out of me to hear that blaring from the TV.

      Turns out, the kid was abducted by her mother, and as almost always happens in these cases, was returned safely. *sigh* I remember the days when the EBS was used for things like incoming nukes or earthquakes.
  • I guess politicians don't bother reading any research before they make their minds up. The vast majority of sexual abuse is carried out by parents, relatives and friends of the family. A few years ago a survey by the NSPCC (National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children) in the UK published a research report documenting that 75% of all abusers fell in those groups. Of the remainder, only a small percentage met their victims online.

    They'd achieve far more if they instead spent some money on awareness campaigns to teach people the most common signs of abuse, and to make people aware that strangers isn't the greatest risk to their children.

    • Oh, politicians know full well who the real sexual predators are. They also know what will get them elected and what won't. Which do you suppose is going to go over better with the voters:
      "We're going to protect your children from you and your sicko borther in law. You know, the real predators."
      or:
      "We're going to protect your children from scary psychos ON THE INTARWEB. They're EVERYWHERE! My GOD, they're hiding in the TUBES!"
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:48AM (#15799239) Homepage
    Doesn't this kind of interfere with the whole freedom of association thing?

    And, banning Amazon is kinda silly -- so many things on the web link to Amazon for information about books and the like. Why include Amazon in this?

    Are they even going to be able to enforce this? What about as people add new social sites, are libraries going to be required to know all of the things they should be censoring, or will someone give them a list?

    I'm kinda hoping the librarians fight them on this and get it shot down as unconstitutional. To me, this sounds about as insane as barring Baptists or some other group from meeting in any number than two in a public area -- it's both insane and unenforceable.

    It scares me how much they are willing to curtail everyone else's liberties in order to suport this witch hunt which allegedly is supposed to help the children. Very scary indeed. I'm just waiting until US authorities start arresting people who run sites in foreign countries because they accepted logins from Americans.
  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RyanFenton (230700) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:49AM (#15799247)
    How is trying to block access to the 'social' internet as part of law NOT in very important ways a roadblock to free speech? If I add a Wiki or a chat function to a website, is it then a danger to children because anyone can access the site, and communicate freely to children using that tool?

    That's a default system of banning speech in public, on a scale far worse than any indecency bill. It's akin to banning phone calls to private residences on public phones, in order to protect children from free communication.

    What kind of idiotic message does this send to children anyway? The majority of our legislatures in the house seem to think that free communication is too dangerous a thing for children to do now. "Don't talk with strangers" is perhaps a way to get children to think defensively about the messages they get... but speaking with strangers is the only way to learn about the world outside your own little bubble. Sure - the boogey man of the Internet child predator has some reality to it, but the Internet is still one of the safest place for children to learn about the opinions of the rest of humanity outside their small environment. Banning such access in public libraries is telling children that they can't be trusted with even the possibility of such communication. I aknowledge that children can't be trusted with all the rights of adults, but our public infrastructure seems to be producing another generation of sheltered dropouts, each less qualified to enter college than the last.

    This is an immoral bill, in my mind, and one I hope is found unconstitutional.

    Ryan Fenton
  • by ch-chuck (9622) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:51AM (#15799263) Homepage
    Here's how it works: News program has time to fill and ratings to keep up, produces a piece about pedophiles stalking children on MySpace. Grannie, who votes religiously like a real patriot, watches news.

    Congressman running for office, addressing an audience with grannie in attendance, says, "And to protect the children of America, which are our future, I have introduced legislation to ban access to web sites frequented by predators and pedophiles in our public schools and libraries."

    Lather, rinse, repeat and watch all our freedoms slowly spin down the drain.

  • by ChePibe (882378) on Friday July 28, 2006 @12:14PM (#15799475)
    I know, I know, "lobbyist" is a dirty word. Many people are turned off by the idea of organized groups attempting to influence politics, yet the legislative process was never meant to take place in a bubble - it's designed (or at least intended) to respond to the people's needs, and one way of expressing those needs is through lobbying - getting out there, meeting with and educating law makers, persuading them, and sure, perhaps supporting those that support your views financially.

    Slashdotters, et al, shouldn't be too surprised that their views aren't effectively represented in legislation - they are effectively making them known, aren't effectively organizing, and aren't working to acheive their goals. Much of this is obviouisly due to the lack of organization that exists amongs the tech savvy - which is certainly not a monolithic group - but I would also argue that much of it has to do with an intense dislike for lobbyists and the perception that, somehow, "interfering" in the legislative process is dirty. Well, it's not. It's a part of the process that's always been around, always will be around, and people ignore at their own peril.

    I agree with most that this legislation - while perhaps having good "protect the children" intentions - is ineffective and more than a bit ridiculous. But simply e-mailing your congressman isn't really going to be effective. A group needs to be formed that handles these matters before and as they arise. I would also argue that this group would not only be used to block ineffective legislation, but to propose and promote ideas that could actually help protect children from material inappropriate for their age and, more importantly, those who would prey on children on the internet.

    That won't happen until some group of tech-savvy people with both the background and demeanor required for lobbying steps up and takes action. It also wouldn't hurt if the perception of lobbyists as a necessary part of the process rather than simply evil (well, ok, lots of them are "evil") changed in the tech world.

    There are dozens of groups out there lobbying against what the techies want - the techies should make their voice heard in that forum effectively or quit complaining.
  • Just a thought (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DesertWolf0132 (718296) on Friday July 28, 2006 @12:17PM (#15799501) Homepage

    The uneducated idiocy of bills like this boggles the mind. Any web site in which you register, have a profile, and are allowed to message other members is a social site. Slashdot is a social site, granted it has a higher educational value than MySpace, but so does smashing one's self in the head with a bat. Some high school students these days are maintaining Blogger accounts as their english class writing journals. Under the new rules Blogger would be among the taboo sites.

    Add to that, the risk of pedophiles is minimal at best. More kids are molested at church than by predators found online. Should we ban all priests from public places? Then of course there are the kids who disappear from the mall so we need to shut those down. Then there was that one kid kidnapped at a gas station right in front of a video camera so we have to close those now. If parents would step up and take a real interest in their kids none of these things would be an issue. In fact, pedophiles are often a result of either parental abuse or abuse a parent could have prevented by taking proper precautions so parents doing their job would actually decrease the overall number of sickos.

  • by eno2001 (527078) on Friday July 28, 2006 @12:18PM (#15799515) Homepage Journal
    ...is an outright lie. Because it claims that the bill was primarily backed and created by Republicans. And Republicans are for LESS government, not more dammit!!!
  • by dysk (621566) on Friday July 28, 2006 @12:37PM (#15799699)
    Write and call your senators letting them know exactly why this is a bad idea. If enough people
    make their opposition clear, we may still have a chance of getting it stopped there.
  • The clueful ones (Score:3, Informative)

    by Alfred, Lord Tennyso (975342) on Friday July 28, 2006 @12:37PM (#15799706)
    Here are the representatives who voted against the bill:

    Conyers, John; Michigan, 14th
    Grijalva, Raul M.; Arizona, 7th
    Hinchey, Maurice D.; New York, 22nd
    Honda, Michael M.; California, 15th
    Kucinich, Dennis J.; Ohio, 10th
    Lee, Barbara; California, 9th
    Lofgren, Zoe; California, 16th
    McDermott, Jim; Washington, 7th
    Payne, Donald M.; New Jersey, 10th
    Schakowsky, Janice D.; Illinois, 9th
    Scott, Robert C.; Virginia, 3rd
    Serrano, Jose E.; New York, 16th
    Stark, Fortney Pete; California, 13th
    Watson, Diane E.; California, 33rd
    Woolsey, Lynn C.; California, 6th

    All Democrats, I believe. If your representative's name isn't on the list, it's time for you to make a phone call.
  • by legal_asshole (859683) on Friday July 28, 2006 @12:57PM (#15799891)
    I can't imagine people are coming here to find people to have sex with... isn't this the haven for people society has determined nobody wants to have sex with you? ;)

    p.s. I'll show you my Commander, if you show me your Taco...
  • by microTodd (240390) on Friday July 28, 2006 @01:01PM (#15799934) Homepage Journal
    Dear Sir,

    I am writing this letter in regards to Bill H. R. 5319, the "Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006". Unfortunately, I only became aware of this legislation on Friday, July 28, 2006, by which the bill had already passed the House. Therefore, I hope that this letter reaches you in time to consider before the vote reaches the Senate floor.

    I strongly urge you to consider all aspects of this site and to consider voting "No". I understand the title of this bill makes it extremely appealing, and difficult to argue against. After all, who would not want to eliminate online predators and protect our nation's youth? But when reviewing this bill, consider:

    1. Will this bill truly protect children?
    2. The potential ramifications, including limiting educational opportunities and infringing on civil liberties

    By limiting access in public areas, such as libraries, are we truly providing any protection? Are children likely to undertake risky behavior when under the watchful eye of a librarian or technology education provider? Are online predators likely to ply their trade in a public location that is subject to electronic monitoring and access control? By restricting access in public places, we would in fact force children and predators to seek out Internet access at other, more private locations, which actually results in greater probability of unsafe and illegal activity.

    Also, consider the fact that by preventing social networking via this world-wide portal, we are in fact preventing our children from communicating with other children in other countries and other cultures, thus limiting their world view and preventing them from gaining firsthand knowledge and experience of other cultures.

    Furthermore, I am concerned with the civil liberties issue. This appears to be another step towards the "slippery slope" of restricting our citizens' rights. This potentially opens the door towards other infringements. Do we also restrict which books are available in the library? Do we restrict who is even allowed to enter a library? The true way to educate our children, and thus ensure a bright future for this country, is to encourage as much reading and information as possible.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I hope you will seriously consider what I have stated.

    Sincerely,
    xxx
  • by Irvu (248207) on Friday July 28, 2006 @01:03PM (#15799949)
    Those of you in the U.S. contact your reps [house.gov] especially if they voted for it [house.gov]. Simply explain a) why the bill is bad (see below), and b) why you won't be voting for the rep because of it. If they didn't vote for it, call and congratulate them, tell them such sensible actions makes you more likely to vote for them and donate money to them. This reduces the likelyhood that they will behave differently in the future. You should also contact your Senator [senate.gov] and tell them that you don't want them to support it either. There is no need to scream, just be clear, concise and firm. Asserting that you will not vote for them or donate money to their campaigns ever again is the most important part. Anything else (e.g. screaming) gets nowhere.

    Incidentally the text of the bill is at the Library of Congress [loc.gov]. It defines a "Social Networking Site" as follows:

    (J) COMMERCIAL SOCIAL NETWORKING WEBSITES; CHAT ROOMS- Within 120 days after the date of enactment of the Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006, the Commission shall by rule define the terms `social networking website' and `chat room' for purposes of this subsection. In determining the definition of a social networking website, the Commission shall take into consideration the extent to which a website--

    1. `(i) is offered by a commercial entity;
    2. `(ii) permits registered users to create an on-line profile that includes detailed personal information;
    3. `(iii) permits registered users to create an on-line journal and share such a journal with other users;
    4. `(iv) elicits highly-personalized information from users; and
    5. `(v) enables communication among users.'.

    I would note that clause (i) appears to exempt political websites from this as well as school sites while clauses (iv) and (v) are entirely undefined indicating that they have neither been thought through nor are expected to be any time soon. Is a handle personal? If I use my real name is that "highly-personalized". What about if I lie?

    These same issues hold true with respect to the "technology protection measure" requirement in 3.a (see text). Strictly speaking turning the computer off entirely is a technology protection measure as is a printed sign saying "Don't do bad things" or an overpriced filtering service that can be easily circumvented.

    The law is bad because it leaves many aspects undefined while at the same time further restricting online activities for both children and adults. One of the known problems with COPA is that many adults cannot get things turned on. More importantly it places blame in the wrong places, and places effort there as well. It attacks the social networking sites on the assumption that a) they are entirely to blame and b) poor "technology protection measures" will prevent bad things from happening. Sexual predators exist in the real world and molest kids in the real world. If we spent more time and effort educating parents accurately (which I note this bill encourages but does not pay for) about the dangers their kids face and how best to protect them this might work out. As it is this bill is (at best) a band aid that teaches kids and parents to fear the online world not learn to protect themselves in it. It also places one further burden of censoring information on understaffed underfunded public libearies who, as a rule, exist to share information not hide it.

    This is essentially an election year problem. This bill is being voted for becuase the reps think that it is free. By voting for this they can claim to have "struck a blow against online predators" even though this blow is all hot air. In my experience such things get done because the politicians think that it will a) make the

  • by drDugan (219551) * on Friday July 28, 2006 @01:13PM (#15800037) Homepage
    Dear People of the World,

    It has come to our attantion that it is a LOT more difficult to keep you all under our control when you are well educateed and well connected. As such, we, the corrupt career politicials (that really have only our own interests at heart), all 410 of us, have decided to stop letting you connect with each other so easily.

    We've decided that it would be best if the big corporations decide how much people should pay to have access over the shared global computer networks. We've decided that public services that offer Internet connections should restrict sites that allow people to connect and share information. You see, when all you "people" (plebs) out there keep sharing information and educating each other (for free) about what we're doing -- it makes us look REALLY bad. It erodes our ability to craft the message we want you to hear. It prevents us from keeping the food locked up and you worried about how to survive, so that you'll work real hard.

    We're not going to stop this pattern. Each time it looks like the people have too much freedom, understand the world too well, or have too much information about how the state operates, we are going to pass more laws that try to keep ourselves in power. We're not even going to consider rational debate on how we should be paid, or really who we work for - we work for our own self interest!

    Sincerely Yours,
    The Senators and Representatives, leaders and crooks, cronies and career jackashers who have the world by the balls and have no interest in letting go...

  • by ChiChiCuervo (2445) on Friday July 28, 2006 @01:29PM (#15800182) Homepage
    With all the assorted bitching on here about this bill, people need to realize something....

    The Senate IS NOT going to bother with this bill.

    The Senate takes alot longer to do things. _maybe_ 10% of what the House passes is ever brought up on the floor. Add to that the short time Congress is in session before they all go home to campaign and the real purpose becomes clear.

    1. the Senate too slow to take time with frivolous legislation.
    2. there are only a few days left of the session before everyone goes home to campaign.
    3. therefore the House is free to pass any kind of retarded crap it wants, knowing it will die on the way down the hall.
    4. therefore House members are totally free to vote for blatantly unconstitutional AND retarded bills so they can say they support protecting our children from the boogeyman.
    5. tout said dumb bill in campaign commercials
    6. win
    7. ??? (think duke cunningham)
    8. profit!
  • Everywhere (Score:3, Insightful)

    by McGiraf (196030) on Friday July 28, 2006 @02:25PM (#15800708) Homepage
    "...have become a haven for online sexual predators who have made these corners of the Web their own virtual hunting ground."

    The hunting ground is anywhere prey can be found, as matter of fact the library itself can be a hunting ground. Even if you lock minors inside there houses some are going to be victims of sexual pretators. I don't think this kind of legilation solves anything at all.
     
  • by paralaxcreations (981218) <george&paralaxcreations,com> on Friday July 28, 2006 @02:32PM (#15800778) Homepage
    ...think "I wonder what liberties will be gone today?" when they first awake?

    This doesn't really affect me - yet - but who knows how far this will go. Is this the beginning of a system where the would-be victim is punished for the would-be crime?
  • by Animats (122034) on Friday July 28, 2006 @02:52PM (#15800961) Homepage

    The bill only affects access to commercial social networking sites. This is regulation under the commerce clause, so Congress is limited to regulating businesses.

    This will be a boost for non-commercial sites like free-association.net [free-association.net], which was founded by Tribe members unhappy with the Murdoch buyout and subsequent censorship. It doesn't take a company. After all, the users are providing all the content.

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