Sunday, June 10, 2007

Point Smart. Click Safe.

I have written a lot in this space, and others as well, about why it would be wrong as a matter of policy for the government to mandate an a la carte regime for cable operators as a means of protecting children from indecent or violent content, and why, if the government did so, a mandatory regime almost certainly would violate the First Amendment. I addressed the First Amendment argument most recently in "The Constitution, A La Carte."

The policy and constitutional arguments against a la carte have much to do with the fact that, for some time, parents have been able to block any channel that they wish to block. Cable operators already have spent much time and money educating parents concerning the blocking and other screening tools that are available on their cable systems.

Now, to its credit, the cable industry has just embarked on a new campaign to educate parents about online safety for children. A new website sponsored by the National Cable & Telecommunications called "Point Smart. Click Safe." contains much useful information regarding tips and tools for promoting safe Intenret usage for children. Check it out.

It is far better for the government to rely on ongoing voluntary educational efforts such as the new cable intitiative than to adopt new, constitutionally dubious regulations that infringe free speech rights.