It appears that the Republicans (perhaps none of the Democrats were able to get their names in the article) are here to protect the youth of this country from the dangers of expressing themselves online. C|net News provides a summary of the bill that would require filterning of “commercial Web sites that let users create public “Web pages or profiles” and also offer a discussion board, chat room, or e-mail service.” The proposal is called the Deleting Online Predators Act, or DOPA. If I didn’t find this disturbing I would play around with idea of a DOPA bill, but the efforts of our elected officials should be treated with more respect.
Of course, there are dangers involved in multimedia authoring. These dangers will remain whether or not students can post from the school library. I would encourage schools to run their own blogs, wikis, and web sites. The reality is that many schools will not or are unable to assist teachers by doing this. If I remember, funds to support school use of technology have been cut. Why not get get rid of the inexpensive substitutes teachers might consider as well. No blogger.com for the interested teacher. If some feel such a bill is necessary, perhaps they should provide funds so that schools can add an internal Internet service to replace the free external Internet service.
The bill does appear to suggest that when operating under adult supervision schools may be allowed to “enable access for educational purposes.” What are the odds schools would actually do something like this? Does someone assume that the librarian has a button under her desk that can be pushed to enable and then disable the filtering of specific sites depending on which students are working? Even it were possible, how would such a suggestion be implemented. The basic idea with social sites is that one checks in repeatedly to see what others have posted. What would you do – turn on access so everyone can post and then turn off access so no one can read? We might end up encouraging students to view such sites outside of school without proper superivsion.
This is dumb (or dopey).
I assume that many bloggers will comment on this proposed legislation. Andy Carvin weighs in with one of the first reactions I have encountered. Andy’s post has attracted a number of comments – mostly, but not all, concerned with the proposed legislation. You are invited to comment here as well.
Will Richardson – Weblogg-ed
This issues continues to bother me. I work with a grad class that is part of a program preparing school technology leaders. This bill was on my mind so I brought it up. The issue of school filtering came up. A couple of the students explained that many smaller schools in our state access the Internet through an educational provider and filtering operates at that level. The logic that filtering can be adjusted to the needs of individual teachers for specific periods of time within this context is crazy.
The DOPA proposal continues to generate attention and a great deal of blog traffic (May 25). An interesting analysis of the issue is provided by Danah Boyd who is completing a dissertation focused on web based social network use by adolescents.