Your mom's a DOPA.

You know, if people would just stop being stupid then I could finish my dissertation in peace instead of having to be a force for social change all the time.

The latest is that the House of Representatives have passed this Deleting Online Predators Act, which, from the title, sounds like a good thing. I hate online predators, I'm all for deleting them. But what the bill actually does is require schools and public libraries to block pretty much any kind of site that allows "social networking" or interaction features. This would include:

  • Blogs, including mine
  • Instant-messaging
  • MySpace and sites like unto it
  • Gmail (because of the chat feature)
  • Wikipedia and other wikis
  • Online forums
What the crap is that? Those are pretty much the best things on the Internet!

Also, whoever heard of online predators hanging out at Wikipedia? Plus, lots of libraries have tried to make their websites better and more community-building by introducing interactive features--librarians can post library events or featured books and people can comment about them afterwards. Some have created discussions forums where people can discuss books and movies, etc. These updated websites could fall under this legislation as well, which would make all that time and money a waste.

Here's the main thing: Lots of people can only access the Internet at school or the libray. This includes people who come from very poor and disadvantaged communities. If they're going to learn how to use the Internet, that's where it's going to be. If this law passes, they won't even have access to those things, much less learn how to use them effectively and safely--they'll be put at an even greater technological and educational disadvantage.

Do you really want me to become a librarian and have to say to some kid (or adult), "I'm sorry, you're poor. Only the people with Internet at home get to be bloggers. Or use Wikipedia for research. Or open a Gmail account. In fact, you shouldn't even really know those words."

You can read a better, longer explanation at the ALA's page here. This still has to get through the Senate, but it went through the House practically uncontested. If you are bothered by the fact that people won't be able to read my blog at their public library (a travesty if there ever was one) then you know what to do.


Cicada said... [reply]

Let's buy fake mustaches and thick glasses and go protest in front of Parliament!

"UNDO What Others Do Unto You! Restore the Online Predators!"

(Okay, that one is premature.)

E said... [reply]

It's actually a pretty good idea, the only problem is that public libraries are included. I'm all for having it banned in schools though.

Good luck on getting the dissertation finished :-)

Nemesis said... [reply]

Cicada, we could for sure try that out in front of Parliament, but we might have better luck in front of a DC building.

E, I haven't really weighed in on the schools because I'd like to hear what the teachers think about this one. But as far as libraries go, it is bad, bad news. And thank you! :-)

amyjane said... [reply]

Enngh. I have two opinions on this one. First, as a teacher person, there are MANY blogs, MySpace etc pages that I would rather a sixth grader never come across. I myself have had to learn how to be very careful in reading blogs, and that was on BYU's internet filter. Even though it was annoying to get blocked at school as a teacher, for kids I would ere on the side of safety. Now, the public library part I can get on board with you for. The library here has you tell them which of your kids can use the internet and what level of filtering you want turned on for your kid. I think that's pretty cool. Best of luck with social change.

daltongirl said... [reply]

I agree with Amy and e. Schools don't need predators. Libraries do. Kids at school have to pretty much sign agreements that they'll only use the Internet for research purposes, and they get kicked out of classes where they violate the rules. So excepting Wikipedia, I don't think they really need access to other stuff, i.e., your blog, at school, on account of they could get in trouble. But at the library, bring it on!

CoolMom said... [reply]

Having worked in public schools, I agree w/ Amy, at least as far as elementary school children are concerned. There is already enough on the internet to distract them from the real reasons they are in the computer lab. I will take up the cause as well.

E said... [reply]

OOOO, I like the one where you can pick your kid's safety setting. I think that's the best compromise. OK, Nem-- we have the answers, now it's up to you to go change it ;-)

Nemesis said... [reply]

This is part of what the ALA is saying. The public libraries already have filters, and in many cases they have higher filters for kids. So this would be an extra thing that would affect everyone, not just kids.

Anonymous said... [reply]

Of course this only applies to libraries that receive federal funding, which is most schools. Libraries that do not want the fed's money can do whatever they want.

kristen said... [reply]

My only two cents would be that anything that encourages child predators should be banned. I've heard only bad things about myspace that I would never let my kids use that site (if I had kids). My school library requires students get permission slips signed or they do not have access to the internet. Plus, school libraries should only be used for their main purpose: research.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Do you mean anything, Kristen? If so, you might as well ban the Internet, telephones, books, VCRs, shopping-center Santas, playgrounds, and children. ;-)

I'm not arguing what to do in schools (at least not until I get more info), and I suppose it's true that computer use in schools is meant to be guided and directed by teachers for the specific purpose of academic work.

But in a public library no one should be telling you what you can and cannot do on the Internet as long as you're not doing anything illegal. In addition, the public library and schools are good places to teach children (and adults) how to be smart and safe in their computer use.

The problem here is with giving up a lot of valuable resources (or denying others the right to access them) in the very small hope that it will deter a very small percentage of the population from using them to commit harm.

chosha said... [reply]

Agree with you 95%. The other 5? As a librarian, do you really want to tell people to use Wikipedia for research? Or perhaps the Onion can I explain it better than me. :) http://www.theonion.com/content/node/50902

kristen said... [reply]

I was referring to computers/internet.

Technically pornography is legal for people 18 and older but that is not something you want going on in the public library. There needs to be some tight restrictions when you're talking about public libraries that use public money. What people do in their own homes is their business.

Rachel said... [reply]

I quoted you in my letter to my senator. Thought you should know, because you said it all so well.

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