Regarding Implementation of the Child Safe Viewing Act; Examination of Parental Control Technologies for Video or Audio Programming, Filing by Adam Thierer of the Progress & Freedom Foundation to the Federal Communications Commission Mb. Docket No. 09-26
Adam D. Thierer
George Mason University - Mercatus Center
April 15, 2009
Progress & Freedom Foundation Agency Filing, April 2009
The Federal Communications Commission should tread carefully in its new study of parental control tools and technologies. The agency has no authority over most of the media platforms and technologies described in the Commission's recent Notice of Inquiry. Moreover, any related mandates or regulatory actions could diminish future innovation in this field and would violate First Amendment rights.
Provided are the following conclusions:
* There exists an unprecedented abundance of parental control tools to help parents decide what constitutes acceptable media content in their homes and in the lives of their children.
* There is a trade-off between complexity and convenience for both tools and ratings, and no parental control tool is completely foolproof.
* Most homes have no need for parental control technologies because parents rely on other methods or there are no children in the home.
* The role of household media rules and methods is underappreciated and those rules have an important bearing on this debate.
* Parental control technologies work best in combination with educational efforts and parental involvement.
* The search for technological silver-bullets and "universal" solutions represent a quixotic, Holy Grail-like quest and it will destroy innovation in this marketplace.
* Enforcement of "household standards" made possible through use of parental controls and other methods negates the need for "community standards"-based content regulation.
One might argue that merely studying the marketplace poses no harm, but what raises flags here are the Commission's regulatory powers, which often run afoul of the First Amendment's prohibition against content-meddling - even indirectly - with free speech and artistic expression. In order to avoid constitutional concerns, the FCC's role should be limited to educational efforts and examination of tools available.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 157
Keywords: Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, cable, comcast, verizon, sirius, FCC, Mandatory, defaults, pff, ESRB, video games, Thierer, vchip, Free Speech, first amendment, prior restraint, Federal Communications Commission, cyberbullying, age verification, census bureau, pryor
JEL Classification: I2, I20, I28, O38, O33, L82, L96, D18, L83, L5, L50, L59
Date posted: April 16, 2009