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Bill Mandates Libraries & Schools Block MySpace

Search Engines WEB writes "Tech Crunch reports on the passage of US House Resolution 5319, the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA).

The vote was 410 in favor to 15 opposed. If the Resolution becomes law, social networking sites and chat rooms must be blocked by schools and libraries or those institutions will lose their federal internet subsidies".


Gotta love that whole freedom of speech thing that we Americans hold so dear. You have the right to freedom of speech, unless we don't like it. Then you lose your funding.

Who is going to specify and pay for the blocking software?

The e-rate money. Thanks for playing.

Thsy was 25% of the answer. How about the specify part?

It's all blocked. They don't threaten to with hold money or anything (Of course education is a provincial matter here, not to often I've heard of fed money going directly to schools. It usually gets, um, "filtered" through the dept of ed and the boards). Whatever the Dept of Ed/Central Office of the board decides gets filted--gets filtered! We (students OR staff) have no say in what gets blocked. Although I noticed the filter they'd switched to earlier this year was gone as of the first week of July--whether they had the new service on a trial basis or are only paying for it for 10 months/year, I have no idea (and the mail filter sucks eggs, btw).

Under the now-gone new filter, we were blocked from gmail (and other freemail services), myspace, and sort of from livejournal (you could log in and post but you couldn't read your friends pages which sort of defeats the purpose); you couldn't check cached results in Google, which really annoyed me because when I'm looking a word or set of words up, I like to use that cus it highlights the search terms. You could get around some of it using a translation engine as a proxy server. Under the now-returned filter, you could access gmail, and hotmail via the uk msn...nothing at LJ (other than through a proxy) and I'm honestly not sure about myspace on that one. Never tried it. Oh, and every single geocities site was blocked. *rolls eyes* Yeah.

It'll be interesting to see which filter we have when we go back. And I really wish they'd toughen up the filter on our employer provided emails--we've been getting way more spam since the initial filter change over than we did before. I'm just waiting for some teacher to click on the wrong email and download a virus. *sigh*


No computers in libraries or schools. Want to use the internet? Like playing around with Simple. Go buy a computer. No money? Ask your parents. Buy a computer. Sit at home. Play. Go to myspace. Read foreign language news. Buy stuff on ebay. Engage in all manner of autoeroticism. None of it matters. Just do it at home.No computers in libraries or schools. That's it, folks. Now you may get on with your lives.


If I'm reading this right, public libraries are to block chat sites or lose funding.
How do the burecrats intend for us to block chat services even as we promote our chat services via Ask-a-Librarian?

Tom Mueller s_Libraries_BLOCK_Social_Networking_Chat_SitesSubmited this to Digg shortly after Lisnews - made the homepages - here are about 250 comments from their members

Well you're not reading it right. It is specific about what it requires and there is no blanket blocking of chat.

What gave you that impression? (Seriously I'm not being an ass, what made you think that - maybe I'm reading the same thing differently.)

Technically it was 50% of the answer as you asked who will specify and pay for the blocking software.

The library will specify it, if by specify you mean pick software that meets the requirements of the legislation. In a broader sense we could say that market forces will specify the software insofar as the legislation would create a larger market for enterprise blocking software (assuming most libraries will block it enterprise wide rather than at each client, although it does bring into question the ease of unblocking a specific machine at patron request, but I feel larger libraries will choose an enterprise wide system with the ability to unfilter specified machines on an ad hoc basis. At least those will be the ones that drive the market to produce that type of software. Enterprise applications generate more revenue than seat licenses.)

If you really want to know more about the functionality of enterprise wide proxying or filtering I'd be happy to prattle on about it. Most large private sectors have such applications in place, but few need to selectively turn them off for a particular seat for a short time.

On 27 July, the Center for Democracy and Technology commented about this piece of utter stupidity:

The bill appoints the Federal Communications Commission as the arbiter of what can and cannot be accessed in libraries around the country, meaning that for the first time, the federal government would be getting into the business of evaluating and screening wholly lawful Internet content.

Here's what I think about this ineffable piece of crap:


Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006 - Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to require schools and libraries that receive universal service support to enforce a policy that prohibits access to a commercial social networking website or chat room through which minors may easily: (1) access or be presented with obscene or indecent material; (2) be subject to unlawful sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or repeated offensive sexual comments from adults; or (3) access other material that is harmful to minors.

Point number one: MySpace is not intended to be a purveyor of material which could be found truly obscene in a court of law, and material which is merely indecent is not unprotected speech. Moreover, if the hysterical Chicken Littles in Congress really wanted to protect minors from objectionable material available over the internet, they would pass a law saying that only legal adults could have access to it, the same way only legal adults are allowed into bars.

Point number two: Children are being barred from the internet simply because there are perverts in the world. This will be completely ineffective because, first, it punishes the prospective victims for the actions of the criminals, and secondly, even if you could bar the perverts themselves from cyberspace, they would only fall back on the old standbys: the playgrounds, schoolyards, and sports fields. The right-wing nut-bar response to that would probably be to forbid children out of the house. If the perverts couldn't send their obscene materials by file-attache, they'd have to fall back on using snail-mail, and the U.S. Post Office would probably be allowed to open people's mail.

Point number three: Just as there is nothing that cannot be found offensive to someone, somewhere, there is nothing that cannot be found "Harmful To Minors" (tm)(r)(c). All you need do is to look at the Vamos A Cuba fiasco to understand that.

H.R.5319: summary of and major actions.

On the matter of the dopes in congress passing DOPA:

This unnecessary and overly broad legislation will hinder students' ability to engage in distance learning and block library computer users from accessing a wide array of essential Internet applications including instant messaging, email, wikis and blogs. Under DOPA, people who use library and school computers as their primary conduits to the Internet will be unfairly blocked from accessing some of the web's most powerful emerging technologies and learning applications. --Leslie Burger, ALA president

Extortion is demanding money from a victim under threat of violence; the U.S. federal government engages in blackmail against public institutions; although it is a kind of reverse blackmail; a matter of give me what I want and I'll pay you the funds that already supposed to be yours, instead of: give me money and I'll return your embarrassing property.

Not that I agree with it, in fact I think it is stupid, but there is no abrogation of any Constitutional Right here. They don't insist the sites be blocked, the only want you to agree to block the site if you accept their e-rate money. There is a quid pro quo, not censorship.

It's blackmail, and therefore the result is censorship.

Blackmail seems to be done a lot then. The federal government has strong-armed stuff that they can't directly legislate like this regularly. For example, as I understand it, it's a state's right to decide their drinking age. Congress just decided to withold highway money if it's below 21. So no violation of a state's right there.Just like the example above, if you say, "you can rent my house for $1000 if you're white, $2000 if you're black." Clearly you're not discriminating outright. Blacks are welcome. It's just a quid pro quo, not discrimination. Hmm.

Nope. It's extortion.

From the old document itself:Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech...This law abridges the freedom of speech. If you look at something we don't like and goes against our beloved No Child Left Behind Act, you get no money. If that's what the law does, then the law runs counter to the First.

That white/black argument is the most stupid thing I have ever read. I said nothing at all like that.

I didn't say the bill was a good idea, I didn;t say it wasn't coercive, but I didn't differentiate between people based on their race or some immutable factor.

Charging people different prices based upon their race is simply illegal, and of course should be so.

John, I've read your commentary before and you are not a moron, but this comment is really beyond the pale.

No it does not. People are allowed to say what they want, people are allowed to read what they want. However the taxpayers don't have to fund it.

Want to have myspace available then give up e-rate money. (The public library at which I worked did -although not for myspace.)

If you want to participate in the free cheese program you have to do something... provide free meals to the poor or elderly. You can't just give the cheese to anyone. If you want to participate in e-rate you have to follow those rules.

The government is not abridging any freedom; it just says people in this program can't do this. (Like food stamps should say people on food stamps should not get filet mignon and shrimp.)

USDA is no more starving people than this legislation is depriving people of their First Amendment Rights. You have a Right to be heard and to hear, but the government has no obligation to pay for it.

That said I think this is nonsense. Filters suck, and these types of decisions are best made at a local level.

Oh and interpreting the Constitution is best left to the Courts. When you get your law degree let me know. I'll happily fax you mine (IE).

It is coercive, but that is how things work. Yes it is censorship. That is life. The government does not have to pay for me to look at things it does not want me to look at.

Brilliant legislation, no; a good idea, no; something I support, no not personally; a waste of time when there are other things with which our elected officals should be concerned, most assuredly.

I don't agree with it, but it is not improper. Stupid yes, improper, no.

Nope it is not, extortion requires that there be an overwhelming inequity. Not here.

Yes a solution to completely disenfranchise those that can not afford home computers and/or home internet access. Just because you are poor you shouldn't be able to interact with people on the internet?

Let's hear it for the digital divide!