DOPA bill would require schools to restrict online usage

The Deleting Online Predators Act effectively bans from schools and libraries any websites that allow users to create public web pages or profiles, chat rooms or email, and is the centerpiece of a Republican effort called the "Suburban Agenda."

MySpace.com and its ilk got a major fingerwagging recently as politicians accused the social networking sites of failing to protect minors from sexual predators and other bad social influences, reports News.com.

A House subcommittee debated whether schools and libraries should require some form of Internet ID that would bar underage viewers. The bill, which cordons off online usage in schools and libraries, is called the "Deleting Online Predators Act," or DOPA. This bill effectively bans from schools and libraries any websites that allow users to create public web pages or profiles, chat rooms or e-mail, and is the centerpiece of a Republican effort called the "Suburban Agenda." It is not completely clear if this ban would affect sites that are not social networking sites.

"MySpace.com has been a center of drug activity, of gang activity, and of Internet predators," said Rep. Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican. "Isn't it entirely appropriate that the state get involved?"

Some Democrats, as well as the American Library Association say DOPA is a bad idea.

"If the goal is protecting children and combating child exploitation, why should these requirements apply only to schools receiving e-rate funding--the poorer schools?" said Rep. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat.

MySpace has taken steps to increase security but politicians such as House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton feels that if the social networking sites aren't taking appropriate action than legislation will have to be enacted.

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