The DOPA act passed the House and as I expected it’s an ill-informed and ill-advised piece of legislation…
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.
And CNET agrees with me that it’s just feel good legislation designed to appeal to the soccer mom demographic…
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.
Here’s the main culprit…
“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.
And a voice of reason…
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.”
However both parties at fault. You don’t get a 410-15 victory with just Republicans. You can click here to see how your Representative voted.
My suggestion is to write whoever represents you in the Senate and let them know how you feel. Send it snail mail, as the technophobic Senators prefer that. Or call. They still seem to be able to grasp the concept of a phone.