Wednesday, July 8, 2009 - The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog

Five Online Safety Task Forces Have Generally Agreed

In an earlier post, I mentioned an important new online child safety task force report that has just been released from the "Point Smart. Click Safe." Blue Ribbon Working Group. It's a great report and I encourage you to read the whole thing. It was my great pleasure to serve on this task force, and as we started finalizing our conclusions and recommendations, I started thinking about how much of what we were finding and recommending was consistent with what past online safety task forces had also concluded.

By way of background, over the past decade, five major online safety task forces or blue ribbon commissions have been convened to study online safety issues. Two of these task forces were convened in the United States and issued reports in 2000 ("COPA Commission") and 2002 ("Thornburgh Commission"). Another was commissioned by the British government in 2007 and issued in a major report in March 2008 ("Byron Review"). Finally, two additional online safety task forces were formed in the U.S. in 2008 and concluded their work, respectively, in January ("Internet Safety Technical Task Force") and July ("Point Smart. Click Safe.") of 2009. [And yet another task force -- the Online Safety Technology Working Group -- was recently formed and has now gotten underway.]

In a new PFF white paper, "Five Online Safety Task Forces Agree: Education, Empowerment & Self-Regulation Are the Answer," I walk through a chronological summary of each of these past task forces [click on covers of each report below to read them in their entirety] and highlight some of the similar themes and recommendations from them.

COPA Commission cover Thornburgh Commission cover Byron Commission report cover

ISTTF cover Point Smart Click Safe report cover

Altogether, these five task forces heard from hundreds of experts and produced thousands of pages of testimony and reports on a wide variety of issues related to online child safety. While each of these task forces had different origins and unique membership, what is striking about them is the general unanimity of their conclusions. Among the common themes or recommendations of these five task forces:

The consistency of these findings from those five previous task forces is important and it should guide future discussions among policymakers, the press, and the general public regarding online child safety. As I note in the paper, the findings are particularly relevant today since Congress and the Obama Administration -- including 3 federal agencies (NTIA, FCC, & FTC) are actively studying these issues. So, in light of all that, I hope this short paper can shed some light on the collective wisdom of the past task forces. While more study of online child safety issues is always welcome -- including additional task forces or working groups if policymakers deem them necessary -- thanks to the work of these five task forces, we now have better vision of what is needed to address online safety concerns.

Five Online Safety Task Forces Agree [PFF - Adam Thierer]

posted by Adam Thierer @ 12:08 PM | Free Speech , Online Safety & Parental Controls