Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Chelsea Clinton argues that we have to start paying more attention to the effect of Internet freedoms on children

Chelsea Clinton and James P. Steyer have a disturbing op-ed on CNN, “Is the Internet Hurting Children?”, link here

Pediatricians have been saying for some time that kids should not be exposed to media until at least the age of 2 or so, because rapid motion in media could interfere with normal development. 
But other questions are intensifying: questions about privacy, long term reputation, and cognitive and social development usually achieved only in “the real world”. The editorial makes special notice of the permanence of digital memory.

The ability of people to “make names for themselves” without direct social interaction or real world competition will certainly raise some questions in the future.  For example, one could postulate a rule that one should not be allowed to self-publish anything without supervision and without its paying ts own way in terms of income (partly to cover the hidden risks involved).  Or one could be denied a global voice until he or she has other people to provide for.  Both of these would deep-six me.  But they would raise real questions about how our whole system of individualism and personal responsibility should work.

In fact, my presence on the web for fifteen years or so may well have contributed to the “keep ‘em honest” idea that helped overturn DADT, COPA, and even sodomy laws.  I just didn’t go away.  One would think I am simply protected by the First Amendment.  But really, it’s because the legal system has protected providers from downstream liability, by and large (DMCA Safe Harbor ad Section 230).  That immunity does have its social costs and risks.

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