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Five Online Safety Task Forces Agree: Education, Empowerment & Self-Regulation are the Answer

Progress & Freedom Foundation Progress on Point Paper, Vol. 16, No. 13, July 2009

17 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2009  

Adam D. Thierer

George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Date Written: July 8, 2009

Abstract

Public policy debates about online child safety have raged since the earliest days of the Internet. Concerns about underage access to objectionable content (specifically pornography) drove early "Web 1.0" efforts to regulate the Internet, and it continues to be the topic of much discussion today. With the rise of the more interactive "Web 2.0" environment, however, objectionable contact and communications (harassment, cyberbullying, predation, etc.) have become a more significant concern and is now driving many regulatory proposals.

Over the past decade, five major online safety task forces or blue ribbon commissions have been convened to study these concerns, determine their severity, and consider what should be done to address them.

Altogether, these five task forces heard from hundreds of experts and produced thousands of pages of testimony and reports on a wide variety of issues related to online child safety. While each of these task forces had different origins and unique membership, what is striking about them is the general unanimity of their conclusions. Among the common themes or recommendations of these five task forces:

- Education is the primary solution
- There is no single "silver-bullet" solution or technological "quick-fix"
- Empowering parents and guardians with a diverse array of tools
- A "layered" approach to child safety
- Technical solutions can supplement, but can never supplant, the educational and mentoring role.
- Industry should formulate best practices and self-regulatory systems
- Policymakers should focus on encouraging collaborative, multifaceted, multi-stakeholder initiatives and approaches to enhance online safety. Additional resources for education and awareness-building efforts are also crucial. Finally, governments should ensure appropriate penalties are in place to punish serious crimes against children and also make sure law enforcement agencies have adequate resources to police crimes and punish wrong-doers.

Keywords: online child safety,online safety,web 2.0, online safety task force,blue ribbon commissions,parental controls,internet safety,pointsmart,clicksafe,NTIA,OSTWG,NTIA,FTC,FCC,Child Safe Viewing Act,COPA,COPA commission,Thornburgh commission,Byron Review,ISTTF,Internet Safety Technical Task Force

JEL Classification: I2, I28, K14, K42, K23, L5, L51, L82, L86, L96, L98, O33, O38

Suggested Citation

Thierer, Adam D., Five Online Safety Task Forces Agree: Education, Empowerment & Self-Regulation are the Answer (July 8, 2009). Progress & Freedom Foundation Progress on Point Paper, Vol. 16, No. 13, July 2009 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1433504

Adam D. Thierer (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3351 Fairfax Drive
4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201-4433
United States

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