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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Saturday, July 29, 2006

House vote to ban Myspace from schools, libraries.

by Ben Masel

The House of Representatives Wednesday night passed legislation mandating that schools and libraries receiving federal funds or discounted rates under the Universal Access statutes block social networking sits such as Myspace, Friendster, and Xanga.

Dubbed the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA), the bill gives the Federal Trade Commission 120 days to enact rules further defining "Social Networking Sites" but it's my first impression that the prohibition would kick in immediately on passage in the Senate and signing by the President.

The 410 "Ayes" included all of Wisconsin's Representatives, with only 15 Democrats voting against. rollcall

Some interesting snips from the floor debate
MR DINGELL:...
The simple fact of the matter is this legislation was sprung on us. I am told that it was written last night. We barely saw it before the process on the floor started. And the committee process, which enables us to look at legislation in a sound and responsible way, and the committee process, which enables us to work together to put good legislation on the floor, legislation which is carefully thought out and which the wisdom of all of the Members is brought to bear on the question, is not something which we find in the process in which we are now engaged.

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.

We have a piece of legislation on which we have less than an hour to talk, and we have no opportunity whatsoever to amend the proposal. We can vote ``yes'' or we can vote ``no.'' Well, most Members, I suspect, will do the politically wise thing, and I will join them in it, and that is, I am going to hold my nose and vote for this legislation in the full awareness that it is not going to address the problem at all and that it is a political placebo for a very, very, serious problem...

Ms. WATSON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to H.R. 5319, the Deleting Online Predators Act, because it sends the wrong message to our children, our parents, teachers and librarians. The bill would curb Internet usage as a means to protect children, a counterproductive method to achieving such an important goal.

Rather than restricting Internet usage, parents, teachers and librarians need to teach children how to use our ever changing technology. The information age in which we live offers so much potential to our children, if they know how to use it...

Mrs. BIGGERT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today as a cosponsor of H.R. 5319, the Deleting Online Predators Act...

...It is easy to see why networking Web sites are popular among teens. A recent poll by the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows that 87 percent of those aged 12 to 17 use the Internet on a regular basis. Of this 87 percent, approximately 61 percent report having personal profiles on networking Web sites like MySpace, Facebook or Xanga.


Presuming Mrs. Biggert (an Illinois Republican) is correct, why would Dem Representatives want to alienate over half of todays teens, who after all, will be joining the electorate soon? This bill would not stop any sexual predator from finding victims. At best, by limiting access to those teens who log on from locations other than schools and libraries, it would make them work incrementally harder to find kids willing to meet them. Measure this against the cost of restricted access, and there's no real benefit.

Earlier this week I created a Myspace presence for my campaign, and have found it quite effective, with several bands contacting me with offers to distribute campaign literature at their shows, etc.

With just a week left before the campaign season adjournment, it may be possible to stall this assault on free speech in the Senate, but only if someone there is brave enough to use the available procedural tricks to slow it down. Russ? Herb? C'mon, this one's not as tough as the Flagburning Amendment.

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