January 22, 2022

Deleting Online Predators

In an attempt to protect children from internet predators, the house of representatives passed the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) last month by a vote of 410-15. While many representatives will surely use this bill a stepping stone to the upcoming elections, it’s unlikely that the bill will actually protect children from online predators.

The new legislation effectively bans social networking sites, chat, instant messaging, and blogs from any schools or libraries that take federal money. Blogs, short for web logs, are sites that feature articles and comments that can be written by anybody. The theory behind the DOPA act is that preventing children from accessing places where predators hang out will keep them safe.

Critics of the bill claim that banning access from schools and libraries will only make students more vulnerable to online predators. They argue that instead of sheltering students from the internet resources would be better spent educating children on how to stay safe on the web. Critics cite MySpace’s large popularity as well as the age old “students are more attracted to things that are prohibited” argument.

As Michigan representative John Dingell (D) says “So now we are on the floor with a piece of legislation poorly thought out, with an abundance of surprises, which carries with it that curious smell of partisanship and panic, but which is not going to address the problems. This is a piece of legislation which is going to be notorious for its ineffectiveness and, of course, for its political benefits to some of the members hereabout.”

The only un-arguable benefit of the DOPA is the fact that it will ensure more class time is spent on educational issues. (it’s rather hard to argue that MySpace and chat rooms offer constructive classroom material.) Some educators however feel that this is a job best left up to the schools, not the federal government.

Some Michigan librarians are also concerned about blocking potential educational material found on blogs, as well as extremely vague language describing “social networking sites”. Under the bill’s definition sites like Amazon.com that allow user comments could qualify as “social networks” and thus would be banned from libraries and schools.


See, I can write newspaper style too!!

About Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones is an SEO from Detroit. By day he works as a manager of SEO & Analytics at SapientNitro where his team performs SEO for Fortune500 clients. By night he's either playing hockey or attempting to take over the world with his own websites - which he would have already succeeded in doing had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog. The views expressed here have not been paid for and belong only to Ryan, not any of his employers or clients. Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RyanJones, add him on Google+ or visit his personal website: www.RyanMJones.com