Mr. “The Internet is a series of tubes” is at it again. US Senator Ted Stevens (R, Alaska) has introduced a bill which seeks to ban access to Wikipedia and social networking sites from schools and libraries.
Early in January, Stevens introduced Senate bill 49, which among other things, would require that any school or library that gets federal Internet subsidies would have to block access to interactive Web sites, including social networking sites, and possibly blogs as well. It appears that the definition of those sites is so vague that it could include sites such as Wikipedia, according to commentators. It would certainly ban MySpace.
Senate Bill 49, entitled Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act is in many ways similar to the Deleting Online Predators Act, which was passed in the house of representatives last year, but met some hitches in the Senate. The intentions of both proposed laws are noble, which are basically for the protection of minors against online predators. However, the methods may not be reasonable, and the potential merits may be overshadowed by the limitations introduced. In particular, these proposed laws aim to limit access to useful educational material–they might as well ban everything, especially with how the bills broadly define “social networking.”
The issue of technical know-how comes into question, particularly with how Senator Stevens views the Internet–a “series of tubes“, as he called it during a speech on net neutrality.
Ten movies streaming across that, that Internet, and what happens to your own personal Internet? I just the other day got… an Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday, I got it yesterday. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the Internet commercially. [...] They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet. And again, the Internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes. And if you don’t understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it’s going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.
I’m not one to poison the well, as I believe arguments should come from sound reasoning and solid premises. But then again when it comes to important issues like making laws, I would tend to think that people who are directly involved in drafting and passing laws should have a better understanding of what they’re getting into, and how they’re potentially going to change things.
Sure, I would like to protect my children from online predators. But I would also like them to experience the liberating feeling of learning, especially when they can do it on their own (with some guidance, of course), and when they have vast resources at their fingertips. I still believe that the best defense against online predators is educating children (and yes, even adults!) on how to protect themselves.
Do you share the same sentiments, or would you like to pitch in your two cents’ worth? Do leave a comment. Better yet, send us an Internet at editor (at) blogherald (dot) com. I sure hope it doesn’t get tangled up in the tubes!