Kid-Safe Domain Nears Reality
A bill that calls for a child-friendly Web domain has been unanimously approved by committee and goes next to the full House, where it faces some concern that parents should still keep an eye on Junior's surfing.
The "dot.kids" legislation, co-sponsored by Representative John Shimkus (R-Illinois) and Representative Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts), would create an Internet domain, under the .us country code, that caters to children 13 years old and younger. It was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday. A committee panel
"Just like a library has sections, the Internet should also have a section that is dedicated to young children," a spokesperson for Shimkus says. "In the past, Congress has tried to
Representative Anna Eshoo (D-California), who represents part of Silicon Valley, has voiced concerns about the bill in the past. She again questioned in Wednesday's committee meeting whether the government should be involved, according to an Eshoo aide. Eshoo also pointed out that child-safe Web sites already exist, and that parents should be the ones protecting their children, the aide says.
Also unsure of the legislation's potential impact is software filtering company
"While [the bill] is well-meaning, it's going to give a false sense of security," says Nika Herford, vice president of public affairs for Net Nanny. "This sets a precedent that the government can come in and solve a problem that is usually best served by free enterprise and innovation," Herford adds.
Nonetheless, the Commerce Department has signed a four-year contract with Washington, D.C.-based
People wary of the bill are watching it with a careful eye, says
"What's being created is a situation where the government is asking NeuStar to create a space with government-mandated restrictions, and government-dictated standards," Bruening says. "Safe spaces for children online are better created by the private sector. That way, a wider range of child-safe Web sites will be available for parents to choose from."
Bruening adds, "A scenario can develop where one family might think something is appropriate, whereas another may not."
The bill's backers dismiss such concerns.
"Dot.kids will be free enterprise because the Web site people have to pay to be there," the Shimkus representative says. "No one is forced to go, and no one is forced to be there."