Every generational divide worth its salt needs Footloose-like legislation to legitimize it. The Millennial's vs. Boomers battle can already count the much discussed original Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) and its current offspring that exists in a Senator Ted Stevens bill (cue chortles).
But all the action isn't and won't be in DC. State legislators have proven particularly adapt at stoking fears about new applications of technology. Case and point is a Georgia bill introduced in late January that would mandate that minors first have parental permission to have a social networking page and then allow Mom and/or Dad to have access to their personal profile page.
This not only means that they would be able see what everyone else would be able to see on someone's MySpace page, but, with access to the profile page, parents would see incoming personal messages.
One 14-year-old Georgian, sums up the bill nicely in the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
The bill won't be popular with teenagers, said Cley Knighten, a 14-year-old freshman at North Atlanta High School.
Knighten, who said her mom knows the password to her Facebook profile, said the social networking sites are just a virtual way for kids to hang out with each other.
She likened the bill to allowing parents to listen in on their child's phone conversations or read their diary.
"I think parents need to trust their kids with the values they raised them with," she said.
Besides obvious enforcement issues and the philosophical question of whether the government needs to get between kids and their parents here, the AJC story notes that they bill might could be illegal...
... a Facebook official said the proposal could run afoul of federal law. "Under the Federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act, we can not give anyone access to or control of an individual's profile on Facebook," said Chris Kelly, chief privacy officer of Facebook. "However, we currently provide an easy way for parents to create their own Facebook account and to send a 'friend' request to their child, which would allow the parent to view their child's profile."
Finally, as Chris Kelly notes above, there are technological means to deal with social networking related issues that currently exist. This week, Adam Thierer expanded on this fact and catalogued a fairly exhaustive list online child safety efforts and ways for parents to gain insight and appropriate control over their children's Internet activities that don't include new bills like DOPA or the Georgia effort. He says:
Beyond the many First Amendment and privacy-related concerns these legislative efforts raise, it's important to realize that they aren't even necessary. There are plenty of ways for parents to handle this job themselves thanks the many excellent tools that industry and others have put at their disposal.