Andy Carvett pushed DOPA’s death certificate into edublogland at the end of last year in an excellent overview of the political sea-change taking place stateside recently:
"Meanwhile, Rep. Fitzpatrick was finding himself in a close re-election race back home, giving him less time to lobby his Senate colleagues in support of DOPA. It turned out his efforts were futile – Fitzpatrick lost his re-election bid in November. He wasn’t alone. Three of DOPA’s co-sponsors – JD Hayworth, Sue Kelly and Curt Weldon – also lost their re-election bids.
But the final nail in DOPA’s coffin came with the switch of Congress from Republican to Democrat. Legislation that doesn’t get signed into law by the end of a congressional term has to start from scratch during the next term. In January, the Democrats will be in charge of both houses of Congress, and there’s no sign that they’re going to rush and re-introduce DOPA. Key DOPA critics in the House and Senate, including Reps Ed Markey, John Dingell and Sen. Patrick Leahy, will soon be in leadership positions. With the Republican losses in November, it will be harder for their caucus members to re-introduce DOPA, especially since Fitzpatrick is gone and they lacked Democrat co-sponsors in the first place."
However much evidence and experience we have of the importance of technology (particularly social software and user generated content sites and tools) for formal and informal learning, citizenship and participation (‘voice and choice’), for creativity and innovation, DOPA pointed up the retrograde potential of one well placed moral panic.
It’s clear that withdrawing public access means that the least confident and most economically disadvantaged users – those who most need school and community networks to be able to get online – are the ones who suffer the greatest impact of blocking policies. However obvious or compelling the arguments seem to be to those of us who are familiar with social software, networks and tools, the lesson is – everything continues to be provisional. We need to continue to develop our positions and our strategies.
Henry Jenkins, Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program, contributed one of the key arguments to the debate, MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA), a discussion with Social Media Researcher danah boyd.
Over at Henry’s own blog, you can read a two-part interview with Anne Collier, who runs US-based Net Family News, a Childnet International partner:
"Collier also recently published a significant book dealing specifically with social network sites and young people, MySpace Unraveled: What It Is and How to Use it Safely, and so many of my questions here are designed to draw her out about the specific issues surrounding children’s involvement with Web 2.0."
"The Family’s CTO": An Interview with Net Family News’s Anne Collier (Part One)
"The Family’s CTO": An Interview with Net Family News’s Anne Collier (Part Two)