DOPA is like locking your kids in the basement


I've been thinking about the moronically shortsighted DOPA doowackie that got passed South of the Border. Basically, if I understand correctly, it attempts to protect children from online predators (which is a Good Thing To Doâ„¢). But, it wants to do this by banning minors from websites that let them contribute. They won't be able to use MySpace. Or Blogger.com. Or Wordpress.com. Or Flickr.com. Or any other social "Web 2.0" stuff. Kids will be protected by locking them out.

Which is akin to protecting your children from harm by locking them in the basement.

Sure, they'll be safe, but they'll be completely isolated and unable to function in a connected, online world once they reach the arbitrarily decided "safe" age of 18 or 21 or whatever silly number got picked from the hat.

You don't protect kids by locking them away from danger. You cripple them.

And, this assumes the clever kids aren't aware of anonymizing proxies, or something as difficult as clicking the wrong/right box on a web form, to gain access to verboten sites. Groups are working hard to provide these freedom tools to the oppressed civilians of China, unfairly locked behind the Great Firewall. While simultaneously allowing their government to impose the same arbitrary limitations on their own children.

Thankfully, there has been no word of a Canadian copycat legislation. Yet.

There are better ways to protect kids. The best, and most effective (but most difficult) way is to actually educate them. If they are aware of the issues (in whatever age-appropriate manner) they will be better able to safely cope with dangers. There's already a handy group forming around this issue.

It's better to teach kids to swim, than to trust a fence around the swimming pool. Or the lock on the basement door.


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