Why in hell is the National Acadamy of Science involved in looking for ways to censor the Internet?
January 8, 2001 4:16 PM   Subscribe

Why in hell is the National Acadamy of Science involved in looking for ways to censor the Internet?

Here's an interesting commentary on the fact that all censorship ultimately fails. A great quote: "It amazes me to see parents who support 'family values' demanding government censorship on the Net. In other words, their family values have failed, and they can't control their children, so they expect the government to control the situation for them." (Via GeekPress.)
posted by Steven Den Beste (7 comments total)
The quote about family values seems not totally understood. I have for some time believed that what many people value, or claim to value, they also insist that others share those values. Thus, if I raise my children with "family values" I bleive in. Since I am unable to make sure that your family follows my decent values, I thus want to see the govt step in to make sure that your children share only those things that I have taught my kids to be worthwhile.
posted by Postroad at 4:26 PM on January 8, 2001

Unfortunately too many government officials are trying to enforce their morals and values on the people they supposedly serve. All they need is one person or incident which demonstrates the need for those morals and values they are trying to force upon the population at large.
posted by Zool at 4:43 PM on January 8, 2001

Not all censorship ultimately fails. We only ever hear about the cases when it fails, after all . . .
posted by grimmelm at 6:36 PM on January 8, 2001

Steven, did you actually read that NSF document? It was specifically about "non-technical" ways to protect young people.
One seminar's talking points:

What are some of the non-technological strategies that might be used by educators, librarians, parents, and local communities to ensure children's safe and appropriate use of the Internet?
What types of inappropriate material do these strategies address, and how do they protect against the potential harm this material might cause?
Who has been responsible for implementing and monitoring these approaches?
How can these approaches be tailored to different venues (e.g., home, school, library)?

and another's:
What research is needed to develop new non-technical strategies for protecting children from inappropriate material on the Internet?
Are regulations needed to protect children on the Internet, and what policies might encourage children to use the Internet in safe and appropriate ways?
How are and how should nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, government agencies, and parents work together to create a safe environment for kids to use the Internet?
How should we be thinking about linking research, policy, and practice?

IMHO these are important questions for people in these fields (libraries, schools) to discuss. If you don't use censorware, what DO you do? Post a policy? Hold a teaching session? Bury your head in the sand? Wait for a sexual harassment lawsuit by Betty's parents because of Johnny's surfing?
posted by dhartung at 8:36 PM on January 8, 2001

The National Academy of Sciences is not looking into ways to "censor" the internet. The objective of this project, instead is to "provid[e] a better understanding of different tools and strategies [that] can promote a more reasoned consideration of various public policy options as well as more informed approaches that are locally implementable. The study is expected to provide a foundation for a more coherent and objective local and national debate on the subject of Internet pornography, but will avoid making specific policy recommendations that embed particular social values in this area."

If you are interested in understanding the entire study, of which the workshop linked in the initial post of this thread is but a part, read the material at this page. (which is where I found the above quote.) In particular, you might give a close read to the project description, keeping in mind that Academy literature is often very nuanced and needs to be read closely.

Herb Lin is the study director for this project, and he has indicated (on McCullagh's politech list, for example) that the committee is seeking white papers from interested parties on relevant topics. So, if after examining the entire project you still feel that certain perspectives are not being heard, write up a white paper and submit it.
Obdisclosure: I work for the board overseeing this study, although I'm not involved with this particular project.
posted by Medley at 8:40 PM on January 8, 2001

This is not fundamentally a scientific issue. It's political and cultural. Perhaps it needs to be studied, but the NAS doesn't strike me as the correct body to be doing it.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:07 PM on January 8, 2001

If people are going to scream "censorship is bad!" at the drop of a hat, Steven, then I think it's disingenous and counterproductive to also criticize people who are looking at the problem in nuanced, adult, and intelligent ways, which is what I perceive here. When you consider that this started with a Congressional mandate (2nd of Lyn's links), well, it could be worse. A *lot* worse.

NSF. NAS. my bad.
posted by dhartung at 7:54 AM on January 9, 2001

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