Why Do You Think They Call It DOPA?

Last week, the House passed the Deleting Online Predators Act, a bill requiring public schools to block chat rooms and social networking sites (which Dave Weigel blogged about earlier this month). However much a symptom of moral panic this is, it's probably not a complete disaster in itself if kids can't log in to MySpace at school. What is unsettling is how vaguely defined "social networking site" is. The bill just picks out some general features, such as allowing users to create a profile, soliciting "personal" information, and enabling communication between users—then lets the FCC flesh it out. But that seems as though it could easily cover a pretty huge array of sites. Gmail? IM? Wikipedia? Citizen journalism sites like Fresno Famous? Slashdot? Hell, the whole Internet is arguably about "social networking." And even if it did just cover paradigm cases like MySpace and Friendster, why impose an elaborate and burdensome filtering requirement that isn't actually going to keep anyone off these sites when it would be relatively simple to just teach kids some common-sense online safety practices, which they'll need sooner or later anyway?

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    Would I create a fit of uncontrollable giggles by asking what authority congress has to pass this law?

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    Would I create a fit of uncontrollable giggles by asking what authority congress has to pass this law?

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    why impose an elaborate and burdensome filtering requirement that isn't actually going to keep anyone off these sites when it would be relatively simple to just teach kids some common-sense online safety practices, which they'll need sooner or later anyway?


    Better yet, why not instill kids with some sense of modesty and enough good taste to socially network somewhere worthwhile? Where did anyone's sense of refinement go?

    Sign this comment,

    MySpace: A Place for Homewreckers and Douchebags.

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    guns and the money that they have stolen from us with said guns - that is their authority.

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    What is unsettling is how vaguely defined "social networking site" is.

    Um, Hit & Run?

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    For people who care about protecting their kids and aren't just busybodies, common sense online safety tips are here.

    Also, someone really needs to do something about that awful Fresno Famous site. It's a menace. For the sake of our children, let's shut down that URL and arrest its proprietor.

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    why impose an elaborate and burdensome filtering requirement that isn't actually going to keep anyone off these sites when it would be relatively simple to just teach kids some common-sense online safety practices, which they'll need sooner or later anyway?

    You sound like you're surprised that Congress is going to pass a stupid law. Can you really be a libertarian if you don't expect this?

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    "Would I create a fit of uncontrollable giggles by asking what authority congress has to pass this law?"

    This is slightly more defensible than some other restrictions because it's imposed only as a condition of receiving federal funds. Any school or library system can theoretically avoid it by not taking federal money.

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    Where did anyone's sense of refinement go?

    When this question is asked by a Cleveland native, you know we're all fucked.

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    When this question is asked by a Cleveland native, you know we're all fucked.

    David,

    It's funny 'cause it's true.

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    SR, That argument is a spurious one that drives me batty. It seems reasonable that, since the government is spending its money, it can fix any strings it wants to that money. This would be a fair argument if it really was spending its money. However, it isn't spending its money. Its spending mine. Money it took by force and now is kind enough to filter a little of my own money back to me if only I'll consent to to its demands.

    BTW, this is one of the three things on my list of simple ways to turn a free country into a dictatorship. The other two are to pass so many laws that every person is a felon then selectively enforce and to enact draconian taxes with "targeted tax cuts" to those who "voluntarily" comply with government demands. You'll note that all three methods have been used extensively in America.

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    Well, I think Congress should just pass a law mandating that kids should use good judgement and common sense. It should have some really draconian penalty, like meeting a child molester or something.

  • The Lonely libertarian||

    Isn't the real problem with these laws the fact that we have the federal government telling every single school how it ought to be run? This is just as dumb as proposed soft drink bans, and other similar laws. Of course schools should probably block access to MySpace, and other similar sites, but shouldn't we leave that to parents and teachers, and not dumbass Congressmen. Better a parent or a teacher make stupid roles than the federal government.

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    Isn't the real solution for people to learn how to be good parents instead of running to the government to protect their children from the internet or video games or trains or cars or drugs or toys.

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    What the hell are children doing mucking around on the Internet at school, anyway? Aren't they supposed to be learning factual information?

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    ChrisO...now that was funny

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    the problem is the pipes. i got an internet the other day about this very thing.

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    The trouble is when the pipes get dirty, edna. Gotta clean out them ol' pipes every so often, else who knows what-all will spew out in our schools.

    For the children.

  • Larry A||

    why impose an elaborate and burdensome filtering requirement that isn't actually going to keep anyone off these sites when it would be relatively simple to just teach kids some common-sense online safety practices, which they'll need sooner or later anyway?

    Congress:

    1. Teach kids to take care of themselves or
    2. Teach kids to rely on the government.
      Decisions, decisions.

    OTOH, notice that Internet-ready kids with chatrooms, blogs, IM, etc. are making more peaceful contacts with people from other countries than the U.S. Department of State.

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    Internet-ready kids with chatrooms, blogs, IM, etc. are making more peaceful contacts with people from other countries than the U.S. Department of State.



    <Ding-ding-ding-ding> Exactly right, Larry.

    Trying to keep kids from interacting over the Internet because there might be predators out there is about as bright as trying to tell kids that they can't play outdoors because there might be pervs in the parks.

    Duh - they shouldn't be left unsupervised on the 'net any more than they should go hang out late at night at a playground without a competent adult along, someone who can assess risks more rationally than a child... or a goatf-, er, excuse me, Congresscrittter.

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    Constitution, Amendment the First:

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

  • wingnutx||

    Internet pedophile-buster Del Harvey has her own myspace page.

    I'm amazed that she uses her real name. I'd be afraid of angry peds looking for revenge.

    Did I mention that she's hot?

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    smacky, homewreckers and douchebags? i'm not sure which I am, but since I haven't wrecked any homes lately, I guess I'm a douchebag. hey, thanks, really.

    gosh since the advent of myspace, I haven't left my living room! does the sun still come up and go down every day, smacky?

    "socially network somewhere worthwhile" - you sound like a luddite or an old hag.

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    Practical solutions and common sense never won an election.

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    methodman,

    Why don't you go back to hanging around on MySpace with the other douchebags? Let's keep Hit and Run clean. :)

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    Damn, I am a douchebag too, or just a youngin.

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    Y'all act like 'douchbag' is an insult or something. Where I come from, that's a compliment.

  • methodman||

    i still love you, smacky.
    smash the internets!

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    "That argument is a spurious one that drives me batty. It seems reasonable that, since the government is spending its money, it can fix any strings it wants to that money. This would be a fair argument if it really was spending its money. However, it isn't spending its money. Its spending mine. Money it took by force and now is kind enough to filter a little of my own money back to me if only I'll consent to to its demands."

    Uh, Eryk, you asked what "authority" Congress had to pass this law. I answered in the manner that any court would if you filed a lawsuit over it. If your contention is that Congress lacks "authority" to condition how recipients of federal funds spend them because Congress stole the money in the first place, then the answer is that Congress really has no authority for anything, since 90%+ of its revenues come from direct or indirect forms of taxation (e.g., debt sales, which are a form of deferred taxation).

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    Indeed. I'm thinking that I should start withholding funds from Congress until it starts behaving the way that I think it should.

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    Pardon if I was unclear (and more than a little terse...I've been spending most of the day on my soapbox for some reason). My real question was what is the Constitutional authority. The question, in this day, is rhetorical given that SCOTUS is unwilling to recognize any real limit of congress' scope of authority. I suppose I should act like a good law student and note that SCOTUS has, at times, recognized limitations on congress and other state agencies attatching completely irrelevant or disproportionate strings to funding or other government benefits. Still, there are more than a few ways around this. I named two earlier.

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    Eryk, I actually oppose Congress' use of the spending power to accomplish goals that it otherwise doesn't have the legal authority to accomplish. I was just saying that I, too, can exercise my own personal spending power to chastise Congress. . .can't I?

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    My real question was what is the Constitutional authority.

    Constitution, constitution, what did I do with that old rag...dangit, I know it's around here somewhere. Nope, can't find it so it must be okay.

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    For people who care about protecting their kids and aren't just busybodies, common sense online safety tips are here.

    Those tips are generally reaonable, but nevertheless, this remains an example of extreme cognitive bias in the weighing of risks. The ratio of "child predators" relative to children is extremely low. Parents ought to be a lot more worried about traffic safety, obesity, the onset of tobacco addiction, and poor study habits, and a lot less worried about the internet pedophile bogeyman.

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    Oh, I forgot to add: your sixteen-year-old daughter hooking up with a 20-year-old online is a) not pedophilia, b) perfectly in keeping with all of human history, c) somewhat risky but probably not a mortal crisis, and d) likely to happen in some other form behind your back, if such is the personality of your child. Perverts tricking 10-year-olds is very rare; normal sexual exploration of adolescents is common but unavoidable. Get your head out of the sand and figure out how to deal with it without shooting the instant messenger.

  • Robert||

    "Duh - they shouldn't be left unsupervised on the 'net any more than they should go hang out late at night at a playground without a competent adult along,"

    Actually they should be more unspuervised on the net than on the playground, because there's no physical danger -- which means no actual danger -- from the computer, unless you count the possibility of the video monitor's falling over on them.

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    you know, eventually I am just going to turn into a libertarian. when congress passes laws like this I can feel the hot prickle of incipient libertarianism at my temples. god knows what all my social democrat friends will say.

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    "Actually they should be more unspuervised on the net than on the playground, because there's no physical danger -- which means no actual danger -- from the computer, unless you count the possibility of the video monitor's falling over on them."

    I leave it up to the parent to judge the should and should not. But there is the possiblility of being lured to actual danger. That possibility makes it a danger.

    We have to understand that the Internet is like the real world. It's a nasty, dangerous place that children must learn to navigate. Children must be educated to make, hopefully, better judgement calls.

  • Robert||

    "But there is the possiblility of being lured to actual danger. That possibility makes it a danger."

    Not "danger" as usually understood. What can anyone ever do without its entailing the type of "danger" you suppose?

  • Larry A||

    Meanwhile the Boy Scouts have to turn over predator files in a lawsuit alleging abuse.
    Baltimore Sun

    Are they the House's next target? What about the Catholic Church?

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