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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

DOPA: 'Ill-conceived law'

The Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA), which just passed the US House of Representatives (see this item), could actually do more harm than good, writes co-director Larry Magid in (for full disclosure, I'm the other co-director). "It is ill-conceived because, rather than 'deleting' online predators, it deletes the ability of schools and libraries to determine whether kids can constructively take advantage of social networking and other interactive services that are extremely popular among teens. Maybe the law should be called DOTA (the Deleting Online Teenagers Act)?" Larry asks. He likens DOPA to trying to protect kids from drunk drivers by ruling that they "can no longer walk, ride a bike or even ride in a car or bus to school." Besides being overly broad and failing to define social networking (possibly because there is almost no research on the subject yet for legislation to build on!), the law also fails to acknowledge the positive aspects of teen blogging and social networking – for example, how they can be used to teach, learn, and practice writing, collaborative research, software writing, photography, videography, digital editing, graphic design, journalism, media literacy, critical thinking, and ethics – not to mention the tough demands social networking makes on one's social skills on a daily basis!


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