Here’s a .pdf of a proposed amendment to American law the “Deleting Online Predators Act 2006”. The broad effect of this bill will be “to require recipients of universal service support for schools and libraries to protect minors from commercial social networking websites and chat rooms.”
Let’s be clear: “protect” in this instance means “remove access to”. Social networking sites are defined as “allows users to create web pages or profiles that provide information about themselves and are available to other users; and offers a mechanism for communication with other users, such as a forum, chat room, email, or instant messenger.” This definition encompasses Myspace, Livejournal, Flickr, Blogger, and loads of others.
The act, in fairness, says thing like “prohibits access by minors without parental authorization” rather than outright “ban”. However the act is aimed at schools and public libraries, and the only reliable and efficient means these institutions have to achieve that end is a to simply prevent access to these sites.
The problem with this legislation is that it will foster the already widening digital gulf between the rich and poor, and it’s the poorest families, for whom access is primarily through public terminals like schools and libraries, that benefit most from the increased opportunities available on the internet.
While I’m thinking of it: have I bored you all rigid on the subject of network neutrality, and why you should give a shit yet?
Swear to god, 2006 is starting to look like it’s going to be the year when the internet went away.