Americans often laugh at what they see as the over-regulation of, well, just about everything in Europe. Now we can laugh, and cringe a bit, at a new law proposed by Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick,
in China a Pennsylvania Republican, author of the Deleting Online Predators Act, a bill that would force libraries to ban access to "social networking" sites.
C-Net reports today that Fitzpatrick and "the Suburban Caucus", a group of fellow Republicans including House Speaker Dennis Hastert:
"…on Wednesday endorsed new legislation that would cordon off access to commercial Web sites that let users create public "Web pages or profiles" and also offer a discussion board, chat room, or e-mail service. That’s a broad category that covers far more than social-networking sites such as Friendster and Google’s Orkut.com. It would also sweep in a wide range of interactive Web sites and services, including Blogger.com, AOL and Yahoo’s instant-messaging features, and Microsoft’s Xbox 360, which permits in-game chat."
Fitzpatrick’s own website carries a press release about the proposed law:
"The legislation would require schools and libraries to implement security systems to prevent students from being exposed to obscene and objectionable material…Sites like Myspace and Facebook have opened the door to a new online community of social networks between friends, students and colleagues,” Fitzpatrick said. “However, this new technology has become a feeding ground for child predators that use these sites as just another way to do our children harm.”
So wait, we ban students from accessing the sites they want to access whilst they’re under supervision at school or in the library. So what happens next? Fitzpatrick’s website goes on to say that:
"…many parents lack the resources to protect their children from online predators. My legislation seeks to change that.”
Ok, so let me get this straight. Kids want to use social networking sites. Schools and libraries are places where trained members of staff, often with the help of net-nanny software, can provide supervision and guidance to young people. So what’s Fitzpatrick want to do? Make it illegal for libraries and schools to allow young people to access social networking sites and send them home where, Fitzpatrick admits on his own website, many "parents lack the resources to protect their children…"