US senators today made a bipartisan call for the universal implementation of filtering and monitoring technologies on the Internet in order to protect children at the end of a Senate hearing for which civil liberties groups were not invited.
Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Vice Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) both argued that Internet was a dangerous place where parents alone will not be able to protect their children.
While filtering and monitoring technologies help parents to screen out offensive content and to monitor their child’s online activities, the use of these technologies is far from universal and may not be fool-proof in keeping kids away from adult material,” Sen. Inouye said. In that context, we must evaluate our current efforts to combat child pornography and consider what further measures may be needed to stop the spread of such illegal material over high-speed broadband connections.”
“Given the increasingly important role of the Internet in education and commerce, it differs from other media like TV and cable because parents cannot prevent their children from using the Internet altogether,” Sen. Stevens said. “The headlines continue to tell us of children who are victimized online. While the issues are difficult, I believe Congress has an important role to play to ensure that the protections available in other parts of our society find their way to the Internet.”
The measures they are calling for include directing the Federal Communications Commission to identify industry practices “that can limit the transmission of child pornography” and requiring the Federal Trade Commission to form a working group to identify blocking and filtering technologies in use and “identify, what, if anything could be done to improve the process and better enable parents to proactively protect their children online.”
“In its zeal to protect kids from predators and potentially inappropriate content, Congress must not trample the First Amendment rights of Internet users,” Center for Democracy and Technology said in a statement submitted to the Committee today.
They highlighted the finding of a report prepared by diverse group of people including individuals with expertise in constitutional law, law enforcement, libraries and library science, information retrieval and representation, developmental and social psychology, Internet and other information technologies, ethics, and education found that public policy can go far beyond the creation of statutory punishment for violating some approved canon of behavior.???
“[T]he most important finding of the committee is that developing in children and youth an ethic of responsible choice and skills for appropriate behavior is foundational for all efforts to protect them with respect to inappropriate sexually explicit material on the Internet as well as many other dangers on the Internet and in the physical world,” the Thornburgh Committee concluded.
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