Sunday, May 14, 2006

Banning social software sites

I was alerted to this CNN news story about a US Congress proposal to ban social software sites in schools and libraries from a post on Will Richardson's Weblogg-ed.
A proposed Federal Law would "effectively require most schools and libraries to render those Web sites" such as MySpaces and other social software and interactive websites "inaccessible to minors."
It's part of the 'Deleting Online Predators Act' (DOPA) bill from a group of conservatives aiming to ramp up Internet censorship and protect children who would otherwise be "... unattended on the Internet through the course of the day" (at libraries and schools).
Will feels insulted that he is not trusted to make professional decisions about technologies in his school nor trusted "to teach my students what they need to know to be safe (online)."
It's a duty of educators and parents to provide guidance on internet safety. We expect schools to play a role in so many other life skills and experiences providing education around nutrition and obesity, budgeting, road safety, driver education etc.
The American Libraries Association (ALA) acknowledges there are legitimate uses (of social-networking sites) and supports education on safe use of the Internet and web tools, where an "informed user ... knows the risks, how to avoid them and how to keep oneself safe."
If the DOPA bill is successful, it would kill off the emerging use of Web2.0 technologies, empowering, engaging and connecting 21st century learners, with ultra restrictive filtering.
Blocking and filtering is a current hot topic with Australian and New Zealand blogger/educators.

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