Archive for Monday, August 7, 2006

Attempt at MySpace intrusion criticized

After House passage, Senate has bill that would block social sites in libraries, schools

August 7, 2006


Michael Boster uses the computers at Lawrence Public Library almost daily during the summer.

The Free State High School junior doesn't have Internet access at home, and he comes to the library before work to read the news, play games and keep tabs on some of his friends by browsing Facebook and MySpace, popular social-networking Web sites.

"It's my only way to communicate with other people that I don't see every day," Boster said.

He was aghast when he heard about a bill now before Congress that would ban minors without parental consent from accessing these types of Web sites in public schools and libraries that receive federal funding.

The bill's sponsor, U.S. Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick, R-Ohio, and supporters say it will prevent online predators from having access to children. They have named it the Deleting Online Predators Act.

It overwhelmingly passed the U.S. House, 410-15, on July 26 and is now before a Senate committee.

Joe Dodge works on a computer at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt. Dodge said he used the Internet mostly for checking message boards, e-mails and his MySpace page.

Joe Dodge works on a computer at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt. Dodge said he used the Internet mostly for checking message boards, e-mails and his MySpace page.

Some librarians question the move.

"My personal feeling is that this legislation ... is well intentioned but would further restrict access to information and interpersonal communication and collaboration in public libraries, which would be unfortunate," said Bruce Flanders, Lawrence Public Library director.

The American Library Assn. has opposed the bill, calling it unnecessary and overly broad legislation. Libraries already are required to block content based on the Children's Internet Protection Act, and the new law would be redundant, a statement from the ALA said.

"People who use library and school computers as their primary conduits to the Internet will be unfairly blocked from accessing some of the Web's most powerful emerging technologies and learning applications," according to the ALA statement.

The legislation would require libraries that receive federal funding to block certain Web sites and not allow minors to access the social-networking Web sites or chat rooms without parental permission. The act calls for the Federal Communications Commission to determine the Web sites and chat rooms that should be banned.

Social networking Web sites, like Facebook and MySpace, allow college and high school students to include personal information and photos of themselves. At Facebook, unless people restrict their own personal sites, anyone with an account that attends their school or university can access their site.

At MySpace, people 14 and older can start an account, write their own blog and profiles, and begin chatting online and instant messaging with others.

The Lawrence school district has blocked social-networking sites from school computers.

"We didn't feel that that was an appropriate use of facilities. We want kids in our libraries to be using them for research purposes," said Matt Brungardt, an assistant principal at Lawrence High School.

Brungardt said he believed the law would be good to have in place but did not see it having much effect in Lawrence schools.

The Lawrence Public Library blocks access to Internet chat rooms as a way to guard against computers viruses, Flanders said.

The ALA also has expressed concern that the new technology in libraries could prevent Internet users from accessing sites where personal information is needed to post a message, such as the technology information Web site

Flanders said those restrictions would be ludicrous if they happened, and he hoped senators would consult with librarians before proceeding.

As a high school student, Boster said students who post personal information should use social-networking sites wisely.

"Basically, if you are on that site, you are taking your own risk to meet other people," he said.

- The Associated Press contributed to this report.


compmd 11 years, 7 months ago

There is no reason for myspace in schools. It has no value in an educational institution. It has also become an interesting vector for malware. Besides, have you seen the average kid's page on there? Especially girls. "OMG PONIES!!!!1!" is all I have to say. I did a lot of pontificating about security yesterday, and frankly the average myspace kid doesn't have a clue and will post all kinds of info.

What personal information is needed to post to the forums at slashdot? a username and password! In reality, you don't even need that! There is an "anonymous coward" option that is more anonymous than this forum. with that mentality, the LJW should be banned. If the schools are so worried about students using social network sites, something along the lines of "route add blah reject" at the border router should do the trick.

1derer 11 years, 7 months ago

Does this mean that as a nation we owe more than free health care, rent subsidation, drop-in day shelters, overnight shelters and free meals, to our working poor and homeless citizens? They have a right to internet access? It is discrimination if they do not have it? How twisted is that thinking? Last time I checked, internet access was not an inalienable right.

MaryKatesPillStash 11 years, 7 months ago

I wish they could ban myspace/facebook from KU libraries, too. There's nothing more annoying than going to the library to use a statistical program for research, only having to wait for everyone in the computer lab to finish checking their facebook messages. Stupid ++

Nikki May 11 years, 7 months ago

As a myspace user, I have to agree it's not really for school. That's fine, in a public school, let them block it. At the library, those computers are there for research and such but they are also there for personal use. Basically, I don't think the government needs to parent kids (or adults using these sites). It says no access for kids without permission, but to enforce that, they'd have to block it in some way. I also agree that it's not a "right" to have access, but why be banned from a site because the government wants to. The predators are not limited to popular websites. Also, kids will just change what they are doing. Maybe they will use gmail messages, google has groups now - complete with profiles. Technology changes so much, there is no way to block everything.

billybeanbag 11 years, 7 months ago

Oh noes, they might take away MySpace!

Panic! Disorder! Oh wait, I'm not in school and I have a computer at home.

Maybe I'll go check my profile page right now! ;-)

(really, take them from schools, leave them in libraries, it's all good.)

jayhawks71 11 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, college isn't about networking at all; just book learning. Get real. Congress is about old, out of touch bureaucrats telling the rest of us what to do (with the "tubes", etc...); not the "government by and for the people" originally enacted. That went out of style a while back; I think FDR was probably the one who really solidified the nanny-state and killed the concept of freedom.

angelofmine 11 years, 7 months ago

compmd - You haven't delved into the psyche of the average 11-12 year old girl set lately, have you? They're growing up a LOT faster than they did back in the day. I'd be happy if it was only 'ponies' they talked about now. My friend's child is on myspace, and I was shocked at what I saw on her site, which I was only allowed to view as a 'friend'. I cringe at the thought of the way it will be when my four year old reaches that age. Not to mention, that you are supposed to be 14 to open an account on myspace, and if they are younger, they've obviously lied about their age. Happens all the time. Luckily, they've implicated a restriction on searching for underage children on there, at least.

1derer 11 years, 7 months ago

Yes, that FDR, what a trouble maker! Imagine where we would be today without him. One question comes to mind, would we be speaking Japanese or German? Now that would have been freedom.

Jayhawk226 11 years, 7 months ago

MySpace is but one of many similar "networking" sites.

If such legislation was passed and signed into law...I'm curious to see the aftermath and how it takes a toll on similar websites.

Why can't a public school, with local control, make the decision to to block such websites from their networks? And if they can, apparently enough aren't for a law to be drafted.

Oh wait...we're getting close to an election year.

I'm so glad the Federal Government is there to "parent" all of us.

I just wish my Fed "parents" would pay off the student loans my real parents will not. ; )

Confrontation 11 years, 7 months ago

So, if this passes, then the only kids "protected" will be those who can't use the internet at home. That must be a pretty small number. Maybe just having a ban on Stupid Parents would be a more effective way to handle things. Parents who don't monitor their kids on the internet are the real reason we have to make up new internet rules.

Calliope877 11 years, 7 months ago

I've never liked networking sites. I personally don't think it's a good way to meet people, but maybe that's just me.

juscin3 11 years, 7 months ago

We have a computer at home and we limit to what our kids go to and we monitor where they go. They are not on there for a long time as well. They generally want to come in and play games but only ones we allow them to play. They are only on the computer for an hour at the most. We have the computer located in the living room, so we can see what they are doing and keep a close eye on it. We have had an experience with our son where he was on the computer at school and they did not monitor where he was going. He also had computer access at an after school place and he knew how to get to certain sites which he denied on knowing what was going on. It was not allowed there and it certainly isn't allowed in our home. He was banned from ANY computer access for almost a year. We have slowly let him get back on, but we are more strict with what he does. He is 14 but is still under age and knows well enough what is proper and what is not.

ronwell_dobbs 11 years, 7 months ago

Does anyone remember a time where collective "society" wasn't so concerned with the boogeyman around every corner? My lord, one would be utterly irresponsible to have a child these days, what with all the lurkers, stalkers, pedophiles, Internet skulkers, etc. out there.

Come to think of it, how about we just ban having children? It would solve many environmental issues, energy issues, agricultural issues, etc. Yeah. I'm liking this idea more and more.

/has no children.

compmd 11 years, 7 months ago

Yes, I am familiar with what the younguns are up to. There is a great video called "The Children of Myspace" that you should look for online. Its on

Yup, thats the future.

jbrittm 11 years, 7 months ago

I have a MySpace, and I write for a webzine. I actually have to use it quite a bit to contact bands, as lots of bands these days prefer to use MySpace or similar sites than to pay for a website that may not get accessed as much.

Unfortunately, I have been stuck without a computer at home for the past two months, so I'm forced to go to the library when I need to access MySpace or my e-mail. Yes, I also have friends on MySpace whose profiles I usually check out while I'm there, but the majority of my time there is spent working.

sammie914 11 years, 7 months ago

As an employer, I always check out when someone applies for a job. Pretty slick way of finding out what they think they are like, not what they usually actually are. Be careful what you post, as some of us use the info in ways you never imagined it would be used.

prioress 11 years, 7 months ago

Yet another example of our esteemed representatives having absolutely no clue about modern communications, how the internet works, etc. I often stick up for them, but in this case, we are dealing with digital dinosaurs.

badger 11 years, 7 months ago

Actually, HGA, sammie didn't say anything about not hiring people who have myspace accounts, just that people should be mindful of what they post for the whole world to read.

For example, would you want a prospective employer to check out your myspace profile and find posts that say, "Gah, hate hate HATE my job. I have so much junk to do, but I don't feel like doing any of it, so I'll blow off some time with myspace!" Or what about, "Job interview today. The company sucks, but I just need a place to work for a couple of months till I start grad school." Or even, "Interview today. Job sucks, but the interviewer was totally hot."

I have an online journal. Nothing that I don't want an employer, an ex, or a family member to read gets posted publicly, and my name's not even on it. I just believe in being paranoid like that.

stophammertime 11 years, 7 months ago

Personally, I could give a $#!@. HOWEVER, I'm getting kind of annoyed with all the censorship lately. It seems as though our country is reverting to a more Puritan way of thinking.

Not that any of this is going to matter anyway..soon the internet won't be free and local govronements will be forced to raise taxes to provide internet access for homeless individuals and children whose parents are trying to protect them from the dangers of the evil internet by not having it in their own homes...IN SPACE!

Rationalanimal 11 years, 7 months ago

I suppose the U.S. Federal Govt. has funded terrorists indirectly by providing hundreds of millions of dollars to groups like the PLO, what's a little harm in funding things that indirectly benefit pedophile child predators.

ronwell_dobbs 11 years, 7 months ago

I have an idea for BP and their problem with the Prudhoe oil field...perhaps they can ship the oil through those series of tubes that make up Internet that Ted Stevens so eloquently described.

kalcarloskals 11 years, 7 months ago

Nothing worse than going to the computers at the library and having to wait for someone to finish their damn statistical research. Btw, lets get rid of the books that don't have any educational value. Who decides? Well congress finds themselves qualified.

jayhawks71 11 years, 7 months ago

Yeah 1derer, because no president in that position would've retaliated. What is ever better is that FDR thought Stalin was running a pretty good system over there. FDR was clearly a big fan of socialism, and we pay for it today.

Unlike you, I was referring to what FDR did that was different than others would have done. Oh, and why did he let Pearl Harbor happen... he knew it was coming.

jayhawks71 11 years, 7 months ago

I thnk we should have sanctions placed on the government for all the misdeeds they have taken part in over the past 100 years. Oh wait, we already have those laid out nicely, in the Constitution flush. That's the sound of GWB flushing after wiping his backside with it. Constitution, blah! says King George!

libraffe 11 years, 7 months ago

If DOPA passes in the senate, it's much more than MySpace that will be censored in schools and libraries. The types of sites included under the act include blogs, Flickr (and other photo sharing sites), and more. Using the term "online predators" in the name just shows how little people in power know about the big picture and the value these types of tools have.

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