Friday, May 19, 2006

CIPA and the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) of 2006

Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA) has introduced a bill entitled the "Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006" that would expand the Children's Internet Protection Act ("CIPA") to require E-rate recipients to also protect minors from commercial social networking websites (e.g., the popular MySpace) and chat rooms. Although the proposed bill is in the early stages of review by the House, and may prove unenforceable as currently written, it does address an increasingly serious concern for the safety of minors using the Internet. As such, the bill's provisions should be reviewed carefully by schools, libraries, and service providers.

For schools, the bill would expand upon CIPA's Internet Safety Policy certifications by adding language to prohibit "...access to a commercial social networking website or chat room through which minors - (aa) may easily access or be presented with obscene or indecent material; (bb) may easily be subject to unlawful sexual advances, unlawful requests for sexual favors, or repeated offensive comments of a sexual nature from adults; or (cc) may easily access other material that is harmful to minors..."

Similar language is included for libraries with the slight addition that the prohibition for access by minors "without parental authorization." The bill also includes the establishment of an FCC advisory board and a requirement for FTC consumer alerts. A copy of the proposed bill is available at DOPA.