Response to Fitzpatrick legislation

DOPA legislation - Deleting Online Predators Act - that seeks to protect kids online by banning social networks just 'dopey,' some say.

There's a general recognition that MySpace should do more to protect kids using the site from child predators. For instance, the NewsCorp-owned service recently hired Hemanshu Nigam, formerly consumer security at Microsoft, as security czar. Earlier this month, Massachusetts called on MySpace to go further and disallow teen participation on the site.

But perhaps a new bill from Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), the Deleting Online Predators Act, which would effectively ban from schools and libraries, not only MySpace but any social networking application, is going too far. The LA Times' report on the legislation quotes MySpace scholar Danah Boyd:

"There's so much fear, even in suburban regions, where teenagers aren't allowed to just go and hang out," said Danah Boyd, a UC Berkeley graduate student who is studying social networking sites.

"Of course there are bad situations. But … I can tell you a number of kids who have been molested in school by teachers," Boyd said. "Does that mean we don't send kids to school?"

The number of incidents on MySpace is "ridiculously small" considering the site's nearly 80 million registered users, she said.

ZDEd blogger notes that the bill would be unlikely to pass Constitutional muster:

expect it won't survive a Supreme Court challenge because, like so much similar 'failed' legislation, it will unduly restrict legitimate use by adults without providing sufficient protections for minors.

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