Friday, July 28, 2006

House Passes HR 5319

The House of Representatives passed HR 5319 which amends "the Communications Act of 1934 to require recipients of universal service support for schools and libraries to protect minors from commercial social networking websites and chat rooms." It is also known as the Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006. This bill has now moved to the Senate and it is not clear if/how the wording will be changed. However, for libraries, these are the points I think are important:
  • The certification for E-Rate funding made by schools must also affirm that a technology protection measure is in place that "protects against access to a commercial social networking website or chat room unless used for an educational purpose with adult supervision."
  • The certification for E-Rate funding made by public libraries must also affirm that a technology protection measure is in place that "protects against access by minors without parental authorization to a commercial social networking website or chat room, and informs parents that sexual predators can use these websites and chat rooms to prey on children."
  • The definitions of "social networking site" and "chat room" will be determined within 120 days of the passage of the bill.
  • Schools are now able to disable the technology protection measure if there is adult supervision and if there is an educational purpose.
  • Within 6 months of passage of the bill, the Federal Trade Commission will issue a consumer alert concerning the potential dangers of commercial social networking sites and chat rooms and create a website as a resource for parents, teachers, administrators, and others.
The discussion on the House floor is a good indicator that, although the vote was 410 - 15 in favor of the bill, there were many questions as to its effectiveness and the focus. [from beSpacific]

2 comments:

Gene said...

26 July posting on the ALA's website:
ALA disappointed by House passage of bill that will block key web applications

Christine Peterson said...

There are definitely issues in how this would be handled, should this bill pass as is. ALA has identified one of the largest -- the blocking of constitutionally protected speech. Others I've seen include:
* Not allowing kids to live in the real online world now, with guidance;
* How a technology protection measure/filter will actually be able to block these sites - it can't accurately block what is required for E-Rate now;
* The focus on schools and libraries -- the problems of online predators are not happening in schools and libraries but elsewhere;

I'm hoping cooler heads will prevail in the Senate.