Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Republican Nannystate

In the name of "safety from internet predators" a bill is being moved into the Senate to restrict student's use of Social networking sites within schools that are part of the public e-rate plan for internet access. (From yahoo news, thanks Roommate) The bill is unclear about which sites specifically and leaves that to the FCC to determine. Which raises some concern about future censorship of other websites beyond the scope of this law's intention.

At the end of the yahoo article I think they really get to the heart of the problem with this bill:
"The onus will always be on the parents and guardians, explaining to kids how the social network sites can be used in a safe manner," she said.

Banning the sites from schools (while understandable) will not keep students off of them, the law is ineffectual in that it will only protect students while they are in the schools themselves. It wont teach the kids about the dangers of internet predators, or how to protect themselves. It also wont help them learn that any information posted anywhere on the internet is instantly available to people worldwide.

A smarter way to spend our federal governments time would be to institute educational programs to educate youngsters about the dangers of publishing personal information on the internet. We already have programs like DARE and Abstinence education programs, why isn't there a program for this? If we don't trust parents to teach their kids about Drugs or Sex, we certainly shouldn't hope they remember to tell them not to put their full name and phone number on the internet. Especially since most parents have less experience with the net than their kids.

Rather than educate students on the dangers of such sites and enable them to make better decisions to protect themselves, we are just going to forbid them from going there while they are in a safe environment protected from predators.Instead, lets send them home, where they can give their phone numbers out to total strangers who can then mapquest their house and stalk them while there are no teachers to protect them.

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