In the wake of the resignation of Rep. Mark Foley (FL-Perv), the Internet’s culture of free speech and access could be swept under along with a few deviant and corrupt Republicans.
The fact that the offending behavior of Foley was acted out on the net could become impetus for his desperate colleagues to renew their pursuit of restrictive and censorious legislation such as the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA). This bill would ban social networks (and much more) from any computer in a school, library, or publicly funded facility.
Foley himself was a sponsor of the Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today’s Youth (Internet SAFETY) Act, a bill that the Center for Democracy and Technology says…
“would have a profoundly damaging chilling effect, deterring bloggers, artists and even health advocates from posting legitimate information that could expose them to jail time.”
Foley’s own comments in support of the measure have an eerie drone to them now:
“Sex offenders are not petty criminals. They prey on our children like animals and will continue to do it unless stopped.”
In honor of Internet Safety Day (July, 28, 2004) Foley warned that the Internet…
“provides a new medium for pedophiles to reach out to our most vulnerable citizens-America’s children.”
Hopefully one of them was stopped this weekend. But we must not allow a pack of super-righteous hypocrites to dictate the future of access to the Internet. We need to be on our guard, because they will attempt to exploit this scandal to provoke fear and confusion about the Internet. They will characterize it as dangerous and unsupervised. Indeed, Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA), the author of DOPA, has already declared that…
“…this new technology has become a feeding ground for child predators that use these sites as just another way to do our children harm.”
Make no mistake about it. They will come after the Internet. They will seek to explain away their political difficulties by shifting blame to other matters. They will exploit a scandal to further the establishment of their extremist theocracy. By covering up the abhorrent behavior of their colleague, they have demonstrated that they care more about partisan advantage than about children. So what would make anyone think they care about free speech or the Internet?