New proposed federal legislation – DOPA renewed

The blog Learning.Now details some new proposed legislation in the House that resurrects DOPA (Deleting Online Predators Act) that was passed by the House last year but received no movement from the Senate.

At first glance this bill looks laudable, putting further restrictions to keep pornography from children. It then targets social networking sites to be blocked, which probably would not cause much heartburn for most educators. The problem is: how do you define a social network website? One of the characteristics that, according to the legislation, defines a site to be blocked is a website which “enables communication among users.” THOMAS (Library of Congress)

This kind of definition goes well beyond social networking websites.

It appears that this legislation is so broad in nature that schools would be required to block most Web 2.0 types of tools that many schools use today for educational purposes: blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc. It is yet another case of frustration for many educators who must fight to keep access to these types of tools that have great educational value and capability which cannot be emulated with more traditional tools.

I encourage everyone to watch closely how far this legislation goes–the version last year passed with only 15 nays.


Wired: AP Technology and Business News from the Outside World on

A federal judge on Thursday dealt another blow to government efforts to control Internet pornography, striking down a 1998 U.S. law that makes it a crime for commercial Web site operators to let children access “harmful” material. In the ruling, the judge said parents can protect their children through software filters and other less restrictive means that do not limit the rights of others to free speech. “Perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection,” wrote Senior U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed Jr., who presided over a four-week trial last fall.

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