Children Are Our Future - The Simpsons
Students: Children, children,
Milhouse: Are you ready for the...
Students: ...children, whoa whoa who
Lisa: The future is a...
Students: ...coming, hey hey hey!
Students: Children, children,
Children are the future!
In order to get prepared for this great future, many in Congress have been quite busy crafting legislation that would protect said children from bad stuff emanating from various forms of media, including the Internet. As has been well documented on these pages, these efforts are largely well intentioned, some would work well, but others cross the line and create a slippery slope for regulation of new media content.
Because the legislation has been coming at a fast and furious pace and it's not always easy to instantly tell the difference between your S.602 and your HR.3845, the Center for Democracy and Technology and the Progress and Freedom Foundation have teamed up to provide a handy scorecard and guide to all these kid-loving laws.
It provides different ways to slice and dice the category of the rules, gives a quick summary and analysis.
Both PFF and CDT provide their own analysis, too.
This new CDT-PFF joint compendium of legislative activity shows that federal lawmakers have a growing appetite for regulating media content and online communications. Some of this legislative activity is warranted since it addresses legitimate threats, specifically, harm to children. But a great deal of the legislation being proposed today goes much further in an attempt to ostensibly sanitize the Internet and modern media platforms and content.
While Congress is right to take steps to protect children against actual harms—namely, child predation and child pornography—it would be unwise for lawmakers to expand the censorial schemes of the past.
And, after the jump, CDT says:
During the 110th Congress, members of Congress have introduced an unprecedented number of bills intended to protect children on the Internet. CDT strongly believes that protecting minors online is an important goal, and there are significant measures that Congress could enact that would further that goal. Many of the child protection proposals now pending in Congress, however, would not be effective child protection measures and would raise very serious policy and constitutional problems.
Congress has twice asked leading panels of experts to provide guidance on the most effective way to protect children online. In both instances, those experts concluded that the best approach to online child safety is to provide comprehensive education about Internet use and safety, and to promote the voluntary use of technology tools such as filtering software that parents can install on computers in the home. Direct attempts to regulate content on the Internet, in contrast, are seldom effective, in part because more than half of the sexual content that Congress seeks to regulate is overseas, outside the reach of U.S. criminal law or regulation.
Bills that would impose mandates on or limit access to social networking sites are prime examples of well-intended but misguided legislative proposals that do not advance child safety online. The overwhelming majority of communications over such sites are completely appropriate and proposals to restrict minors’ access to such sites from school computers would only exacerbate the digital divide and impose unwarranted burdens on educational institutions and web operators. In contrast, Congress can follow the advise of its expert panels and promote comprehensive education of children about the rules and risks of using the Internet, and of parents and caregivers about the use of filtering and other user empowerment tools.
And, as a reward to those who made it this far, here is the audio to the Simpson's track cited above....