July 27, 2006 3:27 PM PDT

Chat rooms could face expulsion

Web sites like Amazon.com and MySpace.com may soon be inaccessible for many people using public terminals at American schools and libraries, thanks to the U.S. House of Representatives.

By a 410-15 vote on Thursday, politicians approved a bill that would effectively require that "chat rooms" and "social networking sites" be rendered inaccessible to minors, an age group that includes some of the Internet's most ardent users. Adults can ask for permission to access the sites.

"Social networking sites such as MySpace and chat rooms have allowed sexual predators to sneak into homes and solicit kids," said Rep. Ted Poe, a Texas Republican and co-founder of the Congressional Victim's Rights Caucus. "This bill requires schools and libraries to establish (important) protections."

Even though politicians apparently meant to restrict access to MySpace, the definition of off-limits Web sites is so broad the bill would probably sweep in thousands of commercial Web sites that allow people to post profiles, include personal information and allow "communication among users." Details will be left up to the Federal Communications Commission.

The list could include Slashdot, which permits public profiles; Amazon, which allows author profiles and personal lists; and blogs like RedState.com that show public profiles. In addition, many media companies, such as News.com publisher CNET Networks, permit users to create profiles of favorite games and music.

"While targeted at MySpace, the effects are far more wide-ranging than that, including sites like LinkedIn," said Mark Blafkin, a representative of the Association for Competitive Technology, which counts small- to medium-size technology companies as members. "Nearly any news site now permits these types of behaviors that the bill covers."

House Republicans have enlisted the Deleting Online Predators Act, or DOPA, as part of a poll-driven effort to address topics that they view as important to suburban voters in advance of November's elections. Republican pollster John McLaughlin surveyed 22 suburban districts and presented his research at a retreat earlier this year. DOPA was part of the result.

Defining off-limits sites

DOPA does not define "chat rooms" or "social networking sites" and leaves that up to the Federal Communications Commission. It does offer the FCC some guidance on defining social networking sites (though not chat rooms):

"In determining the definition of a social networking Web site, the Commission shall take into consideration the extent to which a Web site--

(i) is offered by a commercial entity;

(ii) permits registered users to create an online profile that includes detailed personal information;

(iii) permits registered users to create an online journal and share such a journal with other users;

(iv) elicits highly personalized information from users; and

(v) enables communication among users."

"Social networking sites, best known by the popular examples of MySpace, Friendster and Facebook, have literally exploded in popularity in just a few short years," said Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican and one of DOPA's original sponsors. Now, he added, those Web sites "have become a haven for online sexual predators who have made these corners of the Web their own virtual hunting ground."

Fitzpatrick's re-election campaign is one reason why the Republican leadership, which is worried about retaining their slender House majority, arranged a vote on DOPA. Fitzpatrick, who represents a politically moderate district outside of Philadelphia, has found himself in a tight race against challenger Patrick Murphy, an Iraq War veteran and prosecutor.

Technology lobbying groups, which were taken by surprise by this week's speedy approval of DOPA in the House, are now scrambling to throw up roadblocks to the measure in the Senate. Some expect that the Senate leadership will hold a vote as early as next week. (Libraries also oppose the measure.)

"This bill is well-intentioned, but it is highly overbroad and would create big obstacles to accessing sites that pose no risk to children," said Jim Halpert, a partner at law firm DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, who is the general counsel for the Internet Commerce Coalition.

In a statement earlier this month, a representative of MySpace--now owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.--stressed that the company has taken steps this year to assuage concerns among parents and politicians. It has assigned some 100 employees, about one-third of its work force, to deal with security and customer care, and hired Hemanshu (Hemu) Nigam, a former Justice Department prosecutor, as its chief security officer.

DOPA has changed since an earlier version dated May 9. The version approved by the House (click here for PDF) does not define "chat rooms" and gives more leeway to the FCC in devising a category of verboten Web sites.

Both versions apply only to schools and libraries that accept federal funding, which the American Library Association estimates covers at least two-thirds of libraries. By slapping additional regulations on "e-rate" federal funding, DOPA effectively expands an earlier law called the Children's Internet Protection Act, which requires libraries to filter sexually explicit material and which the Supreme Court upheld as constitutional in 2003.

Opponents of DOPA said during the debate that it was rushed through the political process--it was, they said, rewritten on Wednesday night and had not even been approved by a congressional committee.

"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," said Rep. John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat. "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."

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Well its about time
School libraries/computer labs are not meant for social network chatting or other social meandering. High school/Middle School classes spend too much time in libraries because when kids sitting at computers have even an inkling of boredom they go straight to their myspaces. Public libraries are slightly different because it is on the teens own time rather than the teachers time, however those computers need to still go towards research and other educational forms. Myspace has taken over the lives of so many teenagers that the absolute last place we want it now is all across school/public computer labs when those computers should be used for something else.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.techknowbizzle.com/2006/07/myspace-social-network-or-social.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.techknowbizzle.com/2006/07/myspace-social-network-or-social.html</a>
Posted by Nkully86 (59 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Aren't these sites already blocked in schools?
My old high school blocked many sites from students accessing them, including MySpace, Yahoo Mail &#38; others....Isn't it like that everywhere???
Posted by PCCRomeo (432 comments )
Link Flag
Public libraries?
My public library is not for "teens," it's for everybody. And what I do there on my own time is frankly none of Congress' business, since I fund the library indirectly through my taxes and much less directly through voluntary contributions. And it's just barely possible, I think, that research might include communicating with other people on message boards. If we can't restrict access to myspace without shutting down most of the rest of the interactive web, I guess we just can't restrict myspace, frankly.

This overbroad law looks more like it's designed to shut down public blogs and news comment sites -- which have been causing some of these politicians headaches in the form of extra-party political activism that they can't dictate to. That's just too bad for them.
Posted by slippytoad (9 comments )
Link Flag
if its just about schools, then why is congress involved?
it's well meaning. but schools and libraries can have terms of
use, and already firewall out undesirable content. if anything,
we should have a law explicitly allowing schools/libraries to
block and monitor undesirable content to protect administrators
who are doing their jobs.

congress would not be involved if this was about social
networking in schools and libraries. this is the toehold to
expanding it everywhere, because it's obvious that regulating
social networking sites will only have its intended effect when it
extends into the home...where the bad stuff actually happens.

the first thing that came to mind was online gaming. imagine
that you would like to allow your kid into an online chess server,
and this server has 1) a large staff of minders, 2) all in-game
conversations are recorded and googleable forever 3) accounts
can be setup with a no-chat / no-profile-change options

i frequent a Go server that is exactly like this. vulgar/abusive
behavior is punished to keep it's G rated character. if my kid
wanted a no-chat account to play, i'd be more than happy.

an industry established user reputation system would do more
than these sorts of laws every would, because the real problem
is anonymity and a lack of consequences for those that cannot
control themselves. spam, predators, cheats, etc... lack of
accountability is the root of all evil.
Posted by rfielding (11 comments )
Link Flag
Our library here has restricted chat rooms and such for years and it has worked out great. If a child or anyone is caught in a chat room or other place like Myspce they are banned from using the computers again. All libraries need to do the same as well as the schools. We don't need a new law to tell us what we already know we need to do. The parents and teachers need to monitor this, not the government.
Posted by ieg5234 (8 comments )
Link Flag
Hey guys,

I have discovered a GREAT new chat room! It should NOT be blocked by your schools yet, cause it just expanded to the US from Germany!

Try out http://www.knuddels.com with your mates!
it is a very cute chatroom :-P
Posted by moritzhfm (1 comment )
Link Flag
So long for freespeech
I agree to an extent but I don't think you have to bann it from everywhere.Maybe require to be 18 and above but "Get real"... remember what the internet was designed for. It seems that freespeech and the ability to surf the net as I did in 95" is longer existant. As for computer labs it is too much of a distraction. I don't think myspace should take the blame for everything as now society blames the internet for anything and everything. If you don't want your children on myspace THEN DON'T LET THEM instead of ******** to your congress man about how you can't do anything
Posted by kyle172 (65 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Some people are never satisfied.
It was not all that long ago when all the political hype was about getting schools and libraries onto the "information superhighway" as quickly as possible in order to give them access to limitless information. Now, less than ten years later, politicians are doing all they can to restrict access. When will it end? Perhaps politicians should at some point actually learn about technology?
Posted by Mallardd (47 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree...
Students shouldn't be accessing these types of things from schools. I don't see it as a big problem from libraries.. but they are ran by the government and its their decision.. no matter if I like it or not.
Posted by aSiriusTHoTH (176 comments )
Link Flag
Legal Stuff
I suspect the real reason why this bill is going through is so that Schools, Libraries etc don't get sued. Say a Child is groomed by a Pervert whilst using saying myspace.com at School. Its not that hard to picture the School getting sued by the Parents of that Child. After all America is easily the World's most ligitious society. Thats one thing I definitely hate about your culture.
Posted by Jamie_Foster (77 comments )
Reply Link Flag
More Stuff
Furthermore this bill won't stop Kids using Socialnetworking sites at home and spending hours on them. I think it's only a matter of time before all these types of sites are forced by the US Federal Government to become Subscription only so only credit card holders ie adults can use them. The real problem is that millions of Parents allow their Kids to run lose on the Internet with NO supervision. Or that most Kids have much more technical knowledge than their ******* Parents.
Posted by Jamie_Foster (77 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The logic goes like this -- there are predators walking outside (say, 1 out of 100 thousands of the population), so, as a "responsible" parents, we disallow our kids walk out of the house.

It doesn't take a genius to tell how retard the logic is. I am not an ACLU type of person, but this law is SO stupid. If they want to restrict people's right, restrict the right of the sexual predators. Hire some people to monitor those social networking sites and lure the sexual predators out, then either arrest them (if they break the law), or put them under constant watch!
Posted by Pixelslave (101 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ok, so what next?
I'm not saying the gov't shouldnt restrict access to computers they own and let us use, such as schools and libraries, but this isnt really an issue they should be involved in. This is something a PARENT should be doing, not some underpaid teacher/librarian/aide. Besidesm its actually simple, just restrict the kids' internet access by requiring all computers to log on to a school/library's network and restrict internet access through your own proxy with a filter. That way they cant get to these sites in school.

Besides, with the way the current gov't is running the Constitution people so lovingly refer to all the time into the ground every day, how long before something else is not safe/allowing sexual predators to roam free/etc.. is banned or made illegal? This is a slippery slope my friends.

As I am fond of telling coworkers abd friends. This is what we'll have to say in Amerika in 2008.

Welcome to the United Fascist States of Amerika. Papers or National ID card please.
Posted by techguy83 (295 comments )
Reply Link Flag
More scapegoating.
Here's and idea, PARENTING. Anyone remember when Napster was destorying this country? And piracy, thats still around. Just more waste of time and money to make these laws for the idiots that ***** and moan enough. But yet you can still access really cheerful and uplifting sites like godhatesfags.com. Real nice group of people that protest at peoples funerls. I'd much rather my 12 year old browse that then Myspace. How about people educate their children on possible dangers of the internet. I taught her to look both ways when crossing a street, and that there are pieces of **** on the internet looking to hurt people. Lets let government govern and not parent. Thanks!
Posted by TooMuchStout (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Government should not be involved
This should be done by institution not by the government. Last I remember I thought we we're trying for a democracy here not communism. If the government wants to keep a lists of what is deemed as social networking website to the dumb admins who whats going on outside of their cube then they can do that but there should be no laws governing this.
Posted by chuchucuhi (233 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Learn English Rep. Poe (R-TX): literally exploded?
Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) says "Social networking sites . . . have literally exploded".

So what's he's saying is there has been a real explosion (not figurative explosion). Was it worse than 9-11? Or the 1995 OK City bombing?
Posted by danxy (37 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Correction: Rep. Fitzpatrick, not Rep. Poe
Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) made the illiterate "literally exploded" remark
Posted by danxy (37 comments )
Link Flag
Yet another example ...
Of why Congress has no business passing laws for things that they don't understand.

PS It's probably been noted, but this site would be affected too.
Posted by smokescreen2006 (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I really can't get over this. MySpace I can sort of understand, but I oppose banning it for the sake of consistency and legality. But the other sites? So anything I have a public profile on I can't use? Does that mean e-mail? After all, anyone could contact me on there. Those evil pedophiles are just waiting behind every nook on the internet. Amazon.com, CNET? cmon... This is just stupid.
Posted by jmanjohns2 (25 comments )
Link Flag
Children! Terrorists! Drugs!
Freedom has clearly failed in the United States. It was a noble experiment, but in order to Save The Children(TM), Stop The Terorists(TM), and win The War On Drugs(TM), freedom must be replaced with stern authoritarian security. Anyone who disagrees is obviously either a pedophile, a terrorist, or a drug dealer.

Please pick up your National Identity card at your neighborhood Homeland Security Office. You will need to supply your fingerprints and a DNA sample. You will also receive a 3x5 index card outlining what personal actions and activities remain permitted.
Posted by baisa (126 comments )
Reply Link Flag
GOOD! Schools don't need it
Too much wasted time in schools now. Kids can't read or write but
they spend a lot of time in "computer lab" if they don't have them
in the class rooms.

Judging from kid's "research" papers I've read, had to reveiw and
edit, the internet is destroying education, not helping it.
Posted by CE10 (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Here's an idea lazy parents
Watch your kids. Monitor them. Care. Instruct them. Teach them right from wrong. I am getting REALLY tired of legislation for lazy parenting. What the hell is happening to our society? Put down the Xbox, ps2, turn off the tv and send your kids outside.

We are heading down a fat, overworked, undereducated, irresponsible society. And with Bush in the driver's seat, we are now becoming paranoid.

Take a look at yourself and what you are/are not doing to contribute. We don't needs laws for what you should be doing.
Posted by JoeCrow (83 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oh well
Oh well, it is time to send all the good congresspeople and senators back to school, to read , digest and understand the current constitution and all implications regarding the amendments, for it is plain for all to see, they have totally lost the plot in regard to that document.

What's next, the re-introduction of "Prohibition" again, or the modern version of the Salem Witch Trials, or bring back Joe McCarthy from the dead?

But still it makes for good window dressing, in a vain attempt to hide very assinine hidden agenda's of an elite few! , and the numerous real problems that plague us in today's world, using the old don't let the left hand see what the right hand is doing!

Or is it 'Ignorance is bliss, and bliss is ignorance' and lay the very foundations for the creation of the Soviet States of Amerika?
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Libraries & Schools: Study & Learn
Social chat: On your own computer &#38; expense.
P.S. Amazon.com a social chatroom? I don't think so...
Posted by josephineone (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
WHO, are YOU..?
...to decide, for EVERYONE ELSE, what are acceptable, otherwise perfectly legal, uses of "Library Information-technologies", and "the Internet", in general..?

I AM an information-professional, and I DO use "public-chat forums" for such "informational" purposes. And, occasionally, I have HAD to use "Public Library" computers to keep tabs on important-issues.

Additionally, I HAVE worked with "public-school" teachers, and this constant bureaucratic-attack on "internet-use" has rendered, what should be one of the most powerful "learning-tools" on the planet, ...to be an expensive, effectively-worthless, "door-stop", in many schools.

This is about censorship, bureaucratic-control, and politics... NOTHING ELSE.

Furthermore, have you read the "law"..? Not only WOULD it apply to "Amazon.com", but also to this very forum.

And, it HAS already been CONDEMNED by librarians across the country, ...as yet another BURDENSOME, UNWORKABLE, piece of government-intrusion, which serves no real purpose.
Posted by Gayle Edwards (262 comments )
Link Flag
social sites at home
See that's the thing. It's easy to say that kids or adults should just use social sites at home instead of at school or at the library. Then you realize that BIG reason these institutions are getting e-rate funds is in order to lessen the digital divide. Those populations that can't afford to have a computer or Internet or who live in such a rural area that the cable companies don't wish to run the line for the low cost go to this places to use the Internet. It's funny, too. If this passes, maybe even this site would be blocked. There is a big, bad communication element involved...
Posted by neohippy10 (2 comments )
Link Flag
The Government is Overreacting!
The government heeds to study the problem more and find a better solution. They are jumping the gun now and will cause more problems than there already are. It's not really the gov. that needs to do something about this, but the parents. Parents need to better patrol what their children log into on the internet. It's the parents' responsibility to monitor the kids, not the governments'.
Posted by ieg5234 (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
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Posted by jjenkins021406 (2 comments )
Link Flag
MySpace, And punishing us because of them
Everytime theresan issue with anything, innocent people get pulled into the matter and we get slammed against the wall by government bullies who may have even been behind the search for ways to close places like MySpace. Like these to catch a pedophile where many men are being lured into having sex with teens, why not lure politicians into briberies.. lol.. bet more show up there. Or how about the fact it is illegal to possess Child pornography for obvious reasons.. but then how is it legal to use an image of such to lure a guy to a house to insinuate a sexual contact. Same scenerio, an image of a young child having sex, and those behind the scenes are drawing the photo.
MySpace is a way to let people do positive things, like seen at www.MySpace.com/NEPA_Friends where we keep people involved.. to attmpt to take that away would be also a way to take away any other advertising then, lets not stop the buck here.. lets fight back and take from government what they take from us.. revenue for freedoms.. votes for freedom and reputations for freedom. An eye for an eye.
Posted by NEPA_Friends (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
not all - individual basis
Blocked in many, sure. But, depending on the filter the school or library purchased or the preferences of the institution, these may not be considered "harmful to children" (which myspace isn't IMO) as defined (not defined) by CIPA in 2003. Actually, some of these institutions were filtering access before CIPA, but politicians will be politicians.
Posted by neohippy10 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
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Posted by jjenkins021406 (2 comments )
Link Flag
I really can't get over this. MySpace &lt;a href="http://www.lisem.net" title="chat" target="_blank"&gt;chat&lt;/a&gt; I can sort of understand, but I oppose banning it for the sake of consistency and legality. But the other sites? So anything I have a public profile on I can't use? Does that mean e-mail? After all, anyone could contact me on there. Those evil pedophiles are just waiting behind every nook on the internet. Amazon.com, CNET? cmon... This is just stupid.
Posted by m3tin (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
heyyyyy wats up
Posted by amii_lee (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag

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