Monday, December 11, 2006

Who Ever Thought That Statistics Would Be So Exciting?

Berkeley statistics professor Philip Stark recently submitted a report about online filters that challenges the assumptions of many who believe that passive parenting solutions can work. As Stark points out, not only do these "child-safe" filters block a lot of "clean" content, they also let slip a certain percentage of porn. He also said that most porn sites were of domestic rather than foreign origin, and thus within the reach of the COPA law. Although much of the report is redacted, there is some interesting information about government surveillance techniques and the participation of private consulting firms like CRA International. (Thanks to Sivacracy's Ann Bartow for the link to the text!)

The ACLU's anti-COPA site contains some interesting commentary from the litigants in the case, who range from safe sex activists to the editor of Salon magazine, which published the very newsworthy Abu Ghraib Files, which are certainly of socially redeeming value, even if they are not particularly "child-friendly." The rhetoric in their statements and the use of photographs is interesting in that they seem to not be making a pitch to middle America, and yet many of them draw upon the personal ethos of being a parent. For more raunchy and irreverent commentary, check out the blog on the trial from The Nerve.

(COPA, for those not in the know, is the never-enforced Child Online Protection Act. You can read about the government's advocacy for this legislation at the COPA Commission website.)

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