Social Networks in the House (of Representatives)

The Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet has scheduled a hearing on H.R. 5319, the “Deleting Online Predators Act” for Tuesday, July 11, 2006 at 10:00 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

DOPA would force libraries and schools to bar minors from accessing social networking sites MySpace and Facebook, as well as any chatrooms where they “may easily access or be presented with obscene or indecent material; may easily be subject to unlawful sexual advances, unlawful requests for sexual favors, or repeated offensive comments of a sexual nature from adults; or may easily access other material that is harmful to minors.”

First term Philly-area Representative Mike Fitzpatrick is sponsoring the bill, which is a part of House Republicans’ so-called “Suburban Caucus Agenda.” From what I hear, the bill doesn’t have much chance of passage, but you never know when something is linked to kiddie porn.

Youth organizations like Mobilizing America’s Youth, which has organized a Save Our Social Networks campaign, have been campaigning against the bill. They rightly criticize the overly-broad language of the bill and its shoot-the-middle-man approach to enforcement.

Kari Lydersen wrote a great article for the New Standard that sums up all of the issues.

The exciting thing is to hear all of these youth political organizations arguing that a communications medium should be governed by its users. My hope is that they continue from this battle to other campaigns for community-defined media, including defending the open internet.



  1. […] The Bush administration is moving in the opposite direction, towards a more repressive online environment. Congress recently ratified the Convention on Cybercrime, a really bad treaty that basically requires the US to enforce other countries’ Internet laws. They’re on the verge of passing DOPA, the Deleting Online Predators Act, which would ban social networking sites (as defined by the FCC) in schools and libraries. These changes are in addition to the corporate-sponsored closing of the Internet that we know of as the loss of net neutrality. […]

  2. […] year, the then-Republican House of Representatives passed legislation that would bar access to such sites for minors using government-funded Internet access, for example in schools or libraries. The […]

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