05/30/07 — Where privacy ends: MySpace controversy telling reminder of dangers

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Where privacy ends: MySpace controversy telling reminder of dangers

There are many great features of the Internet. It connects people from around the world and allows them to communicate, unfettered, with one another.

And you can meet just about anyone who shares the same interest you do — whether he or she lives in California or Iceland.

But the Internet has its disadvantages, too.

It connects people indiscriminately from around the world and allows them to communicate as they wish without any sort of supervision.

And that is one of the new wrinkles that are going to be considered as those who are charged with monitoring the Internet and keeping it free from scams and predators decide where the free flow of information ends and safety concerns begin.

The recent controversy over MySpace’s initial refusal to release the information about child predators who are using its site shows you that few people really understand the rules — or know what is right or wrong when it comes to information gathered over the World Wide Web.

MySpace, which caters to young people, finally agreed to release some information about those who are registered sex offenders and using its site to meet teens and young children.

And while the current law is vague, the moral consideration is not. A company that knows that adults are preying on children should make that information available to the police, period.

But such are the foibles of the new information age.

It is true that parents should be monitoring where their children roam on the Internet. They should also talk with their children about how to protect themselves.

But we as a nation must firm some rules for navigation through the Internet age that take into account not only the free flow of information, but public safety as well.

Published in Editorials on May 30, 2007 11:34 AM