... in the legislation proposed by Illinois Republican Mark Steven Kirk that would create a Federal ban on internet access to MySpace and FaceBook in America's libraries.
Here's the story from Switched:
First, libraries were forced to start filtering out obscene content in 2000. Then came the Patriot Act, which granted the government the right to examine the books you checked out and the sites you visited on a library's public computers. Now, lawmakers are trying to ban children from accessing MySpace and Facebook on library PCs in order to keep the kids safe from sexual predators.
The heavy-handed legislation -- a bill introduced by Representative Mark Steven Kirk of Illinois -- is, of course, being fought by the American Library Association. The library wants to protect people's privacy saying that it is essential if a community is to utilize the library for intellectual pursuits.
You may remember that I took issue a week or two back with liberalgeek's belief that:
I am in favor of sensible restrictions on things that can be easily misused.
While I don't want to paint LG as favoring this particular piece of nanny state insanity (feel free, geek, to take a stand on it whenever), I would like to reprise a tiny part of my rebuttal:
The higher the level of government imposing the restriction on any item, the more sweeping the restriction will be, and the less ability there will be for local conditions to moderate that restriction. It is a direct corollary of this that if the Federal government imposes a restriction for one purpose, it will soon find other purposes for which to use that restriction, purposes that will generally be to the detriment of the civil rights of individual American citizens.
This proposed legislation certainly meets the first criterion: a rigid, inflexible, and sweeping answer to a question that either parents or localities should be answering on their own.
With respect to the second: given advances in cookies, how long will it be before the Feds want to be able to force libraries to track all interactions with their computers and report them to, say, the FBI?
Given that the FBI has already, within the last two weeks, attempted to strong-arm information from a librarian without benefit of a warrant, this hardly seems like a ridiculous slippery slope argument any more, does it?