Thursday, May 24, 2007

"Flurry" of (US) Legislation Aimed at Restricticting Kids from SNSs (MMOGs, etc.)

The KidAdLaw blog reports today on a "flurry" of new US state and federal legislation aimed at "protecting" kids from predators by banning or restricting their access to social-networking sites. Dubbed the "Deleting Online Predators Act of 2007", federal bill H.R. 1120 (introduced by Congressman Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.))"[W]ould require schools and libraries that receive federal funds to prohibit access to commercial networking sites and chat rooms unless they were used for educational purposes with adult supervision." Meanwhile, Connecticut, Georgia and North Carolina are all considering bills "nearly identically worded, that would require parental consent for minors to create profiles on social networking sites" (KidAdLaw, 2007). You can read these bills by following the links below:

Connecticut House Bill No. 6981: "An Act Concerning Social Networking Internet Sites and Enforcement of Electronic Mail Phishing and Identity Theft Laws."

Georgia's SB 59: "Social Networking Website; illegal for owner to allow minor to create/maintain profile; provide for penalties."

North Carolina SB 132: "Protect Children From Sexual Predators Act."

As with the Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006, or the more recent Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act (pdf), these bills offer a promise of protection through containment. Instead of attempting enhanced regulation of what goes on in SNS/online, and instead of trying to better police adult users (in terms of what they do or say to child users), these bills localize the problem onto the children themselves (in terms of their access, their presence online, etc.). Even though minors are at the vanguard of social networking, communicating online, generating content, etc., they always seem to be the first to have their access (to the tools they helped create/propagate) threatened.

Read this awesome interview with "online youth" experts danah boyd and Henry Jenkins to learn more about the surrounding controversy.

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