In an effort to combat sexual predators’ use of social networking websites, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would effectively make sites like Amazon and MySpace inaccessible at public spaces.
This is well-intentioned but horribly executed. Let’s hope the worse-than-“Do Nothing” Senate can keep this one from becoming law.
Web sites like Amazon.com and MySpace.com may soon be inaccessible for many people using public terminals at American schools and libraries, thanks to the U.S. House of Representatives.
By a 410-15 vote on Thursday, politicians approved a bill that would effectively require that “chat rooms” and “social networking sites” be rendered inaccessible to minors, an age group that includes some of the Internet’s most ardent users. Adults can ask for permission to access the sites.
“Social networking sites such as MySpace and chat rooms have allowed sexual predators to sneak into homes and solicit kids,” said Rep. Ted Poe, a Texas Republican and co-founder of the Congressional Victim’s Rights Caucus. “This bill requires schools and libraries to establish (important) protections.”
Even though politicians apparently meant to restrict access to MySpace, the definition of off-limits Web sites is so broad the bill would probably sweep in thousands of commercial Web sites that allow people to post profiles, include personal information and allow “communication among users.” Details will be left up to the Federal Communications Commission.