The National Research Council has released a study about protecting children from online pornography. As a congressionally chartered organization, one might expect the usual flaming about the evils of the Internet. Happily, one apparently would be wrong.
The full report — 420 pages, so you probably won’t want to read it all online — is here. (You can buy it in print, too.) A New York Times story about it is here.
The nut grafs:
“Though some might wish otherwise, no single approach — technical, legal, economic, or educational — will be sufficient,” wrote the authors of the report, “Youth, Pornography and the Internet,” which was released Thursday by the National Research Council. “Rather, an effective framework for protecting our children from inappropriate materials and experiences on the Internet will require a balanced composite of all of these elements, and real progress will require forward movement on all of these fronts.”
What might seem to a rather bland conclusion to a massive effort of research and discussions with policymakers, educators, librarians, parents and children and others in visits to schools and libraries around the nation is actually a surprising stand, said Alan Davidson, associate director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a high-tech policy organization in Washington.
“The report dares to be un-sexy,” he said. “It does not call for legislation to solve this problem,” despite a strong push in Congress to pass laws requring such technology tools as pornography filters in schools and libraries. One such law, the Children’s Internet Protection Act, is currently being challenged in federal court by a coalition of librarians and civil liberties groups; a decision in that case is expected this month.
Recommending a broad approach “is not nearly as satisfying as passing a law or pointing to a technology,” Mr. Davidson said, “but it is probably, in the long run, the most effective way to protect children online.”
In other words, filters won’t do the trick. Congress should take note.