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The dope on DOPA

By a 410-15 vote on Thursday ... a 410-15 vote ... the US House of Representatives approved the "Deleting Online Predators Act," a bill that would effectively require schools and public libraries to block the access to "chat rooms" and "social networking sites" to minors, or those institutions would lose their federal internet subsidies.

"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."

CNET's Declan McCullagh has an excellent summary of the situation:
The list could include Slashdot, which permits public profiles; Amazon, which allows author profiles and personal lists; and blogs like RedState.com that show public profiles. In addition, many media companies, such as News.com publisher CNET Networks, permit users to create profiles of favorite games and music.

DOPA has changed since an earlier version dated May 9. The version approved by the House (click here for PDF) does not define "chat rooms" and gives more leeway to the FCC in devising a category of verboten Web sites.

Both versions apply only to schools and libraries that accept federal funding, which the American Library Association estimates covers at least two-thirds of libraries. By slapping additional regulations on "e-rate" federal funding, DOPA effectively expands an earlier law called the Children's Internet Protection Act, which requires libraries to filter sexually explicit material and which the Supreme Court upheld as constitutional in 2003.
This is a wide-ranging, loosely worded piece of legislation, and in my opinion is much too broad in scope and risks giving the FCC an inordinate about of control over who can access what sites on the internet.

This, coming from a government who think that the internet is "not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck. It's a series of tubes." That's a line from Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), the Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee - the Senate committee in charge of regulating the internet.

In case you need a good laugh having read this sad sad piece of news, the full text of Steven's speech is here. The full audio can be found here on a Public Knowledge blog. This is the Daily Show's segment on it.

Given the current Net Neutrality debate, COPE and now DOPA, we should all start thinking about where things are heading in terms of how the US is trying to regulate the internet.

Incredible. Na´ve. Pathetic. Dangerous. Any others?

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