Thursday, February 22, 2007

US senator aims to ban social networking

More distressing news from America’s Republican leadership appeared this morning.

Apparently, Alaskan Republican Senator Ted Stevens (the same genius who reportedly described the Internet as a “series of tubes” ) has introduced a bill which seeks to ban access to Wikipedia and social networking sites from schools and libraries.

An article in Computerworld reported that Stevens, last month, introduced a bill, which, among other things, would require that any school or library that gets federal Internet subsidies would have to block access to interactive websites, including social networking sites, and possibly blogs as well.

The article reported that the definition of those sites in the bill is so vague that it could include sites such as Wikipedia and would almost certainly ban MySpace.

The bill, entitled Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act, is similar to the Deleting Online Predators Act, which passed the House of Representatives last year, but failed to clear the Senate.

The intention of both proposed laws is to protect minors against online predators.

Noble as that intention may be, banning any educational materials—be they online or not—opens a Pandora’s Box that we would be wise to leave sealed.

Stevens’ rhetoric is disturbingly similar to another Republican Senator who represented the citizens of Wisconsin in the 1950s.

“McCarthyism is Americanism with its sleeves rolled.”

Many Americans today who read that quote from McCarthy wince with disgust.

Let’s hope there are enough of those people sitting in the US Congress.

Tricia Holly Davis, chief writer, Travolution


Karen Bryan said...

Surely this bill will not receive enough votes to became law. To me it seems like throwing out the baby with the bath water. Yes the internet can be abused but there are so many educational benefits to be gained.

Steve E said...

Ridiculous! Social networks are far from the darkest corners of the internet, policing the internet in such a way is impossible.

Perhaps however, the good Senator is more of a genius than you give him credit for... It is of course possible that his reference to the internet being made up of tubes was a premonition of the forthcoming Yahoo Pipes :-)