Seriously, DOPA is bad news
Nancy Willard of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use (csriu.org) wrote a article that was reprinted on blue Skunk Blog
stating clearly that DOPA is nothing more than Republican posturing. She paints this picture of the ad campaign against any Democrat who opposes DOPA:
(Candidate's name) voted against Deleting Online Predators Act -- a law intended to keep children safe from predators online. If (candidate) is not dedicated to protecting your children from Internet predators, how can you expect him or her to effectively address other important concerns?
Willard then goes on to provide some very solid reasons Democrats (or anyone) can use to argue that DOPA should be canned including:
1) DOPA is so vague that it will be deemed unconstitutional
2) DOPA is duplicative of CIPA - if schools consider a specific site 'harmful to minors' they can use their existing filter software and the CIPA legislation to justify blocking the site.
3) "Any place that kids congregate to communicate will attract predators" and it is impossible to block all possible avenues for online communication.
4) "Any moderately intelligent middle school student" can proxy around a school's filter and it is impossible to block all the proxies that might be used.
5) There is already too much reliance on filtering technology for controlling kid's use of the Internet. "What is needed in schools is a stronger focus on educational use of the Internet and more effective monitoring, including technical monitoring."
6) Another piece of legislation, COPA (a criminal law that requires sites with adult materials to have age verification) can only be passed (per a previous Supreme Court ruling) if the DOJ can prove that filtering is ineffective. That puts the government's CIPA and DOPA legislation in a bit of a bind.
There's lots of great info on DOPA and the reasons it should not come to fruition and Willard hits on most of them. Also see the YALSA DOPA Wiki for some good resources on social networking, DOPA, the law and an excellent "MySpace for Parents" article.
And now, here's my new contribution to the argument: Blocking MySpace will provide incentive for kids to learn how to get around filters. Until now, there's been enough alternative sites for kids to use to accomplish their goals (shop, communicate, play games, etc) so they haven't needed to bother with proxies and other new, savvy ways to bypass the Internet filters. But there is no space like MySpace, and if libraries and schools start blocking MySpace with their filters, even the 'good kids' are going to find their way around it.
The technology savvy will use one of the many ways to get around filters described here and the less savvy will just go to the mall, park outside someone's house or go to Starbucks to get online without restriction and without supervision.
DOPA is the best way to motivate our youth to learn better ways to get around filters and to keep their online activities hidden from responsible adults.
Instead of filtering, kids need mentoring, guidance, supervision and encouragement. They are going to explore the cyberworld with or without our help. Why not give them the resources they need to make intelligent decisions about what is fun and what is dangerous and increase the chances that they will navigate safely.