Fear the Web

Journalist and media critic Jeff Jarvis has a great post on the results of a survey about privacy and Facebook from Consumer Reports. He says the magazine is suggesting that the large numbers should shock us, when they simply reflect a new openness in today’s society. And progress.

He also makes this excellent point about how our attempts to “protect” kids from the web is doing them no favors.

Last night, a good friend of mine complained on Twitter that Google had knocked his 10-year-old son off when he revealed his age. My friend got mad at Google. Oh, no, I said, get mad at the FTC and COPPA (the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) and its unintended consequences. It makes children lie about their ages and puts us in a position to teach them to lie. It has made children the worst-served sector of society online. The intentions are good. The consequences may not be. [emphasis mine]

In the end, Jeff is very correct in his belief that the fear mongering which comes from reports like this too often leads to inappropriate, overly-restrictive, and even dangerous legislation.

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