Senate Proposes Giving The FCC Authority To Regulate Internet Content... For The Children

from the but,-of-course dept

Long ago politicians figured out that the way to get controversial or overly broad legislation through Congress was to simply say it's to protect the children. No politician wants to see a commercial from opponents in their next election about how he or she voted against protecting the children. However, it's for that reason that you should look extra carefully at such legislation, as it very rarely actually does much to protect any children, and quite often sneaks in things that are quite dangerous (not just to children). The Senate Commerce Committee has passed a bill, for the children of course, that would push the FCC to investigate next generation "v-chip" technology to allow parents to block their kids from seeing certain content. Now, it's a noble idea -- but in practice... it can be quite troublesome. As Sean Garrett highlights, the law actually is a backdoor way to allow the FCC to regulate online content. Right now, the FCC can only regulate content broadcast over the airwaves, though there have been some efforts underway to give them regulatory say over other content as well. However, doing that directly would be controversial, so this bill lets them sneak the FCC's regulatory authority into the internet tent, for the sake of the children, of course. One section would require the FCC to look into new content controls for all "wired, wireless, and Internet platforms." In other words, it would open the door to the FCC having some regulatory power over all forms of content. That's well beyond the FCC's charter and should be seen as quite problematic, especially since there's a huge difference between broadcast content and communications. Unfortunately, this legislation seems to think that communications networks are no different than broadcast systems.

Filed Under: fcc, for the children, legislation, senate

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  1. icon
    Richard Ahlquist (profile), 3 Aug 2007 @ 11:40am

    No Effing Way

    There is no way, this goes right along with the Communications Decency Act (as far as it being STUPID) and I will fight it tooth and nail. The same thing I said about the CDA in 1995/96 applies;

    "Now some of you are saying "What of the Children??" I say..What happened to their parents? I'm not their child's parent so why should I be striped of my rights to hold an adult discussion because someone's parent refuses to supervise them online? Now some of you are saying "You cant watch a child 24 hours a day!". Passwords are meant to keep people out, you the parent can inconvenience yourself on my behalf and that of the other citizens of the net who want their freedom back. Many probably think "The Internet should be for everyone!!" and you know you're right! I agree wholeheartedly! Its the worlds best place for education and research! BUT remember Central Park in New York city is for everyone too, would you let you children wander there alone? How about Compton California? A swamp in a national park?

    YOU took on an awesome responsibility by bringing life into this world, not I. If you cannot handle this responsibility then get help, but don't you come into cyberspace and try to impose your reality here..Its a whole new world...Its Glorious, its beautiful, its fun, but beware, for there are monsters that lurk in the dark."

    I still stand by that and now I am the father of a 5yr old girl. Do not hide from knowledge.

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