DOPA dead in Senate! Occasionally, stupid legislation dies.
December 29th, 2006

(Via Stephen Downes)

Good news! According to Andy Carvin, DOPA has died in the Senate.

The end of 2006 also marks the end of the current congressional session in the House and Senate, closing the door on the Deleting Online Predators Act. Let’s take a look at why this legislation, which passed overwhelmingly in the House this summer, died such a slow death.

Those of you who’ve been following this blog from the get-go are undoubtedly aware of the Deleting Online Predators Act, or DOPA. But for those of you who don’t frequent my humble column on a regular basis, here’s the skinny. DOPA, introduced last May by Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick and a coalition of suburban Republican representatives, would have required all schools and libraries that receive federal Internet subsidies to block youth access to interactive online services, particularly online social networks and chat rooms. The bill was introduced at the height of media coverage surrounding MySpace and online predators, inspiring these members of Congress to get in on the act.

For a time, it seemed that DOPA would inevitably reach the president’s desk. Surely the overwhelming support of the House would be reflected in the Senate, one might have surmised. But then, something quite unexpected happened: nothing. With all the criticism being lobbed by the blogosphere and the media, DOPA found itself among a group of skeptical senators who were in no rush to pass the legislation. After it passed the House, influential Senator Patrick Leahy expressed concerns with DOPA, and media reports suggested he would take a long, hard look at the bill, effectively slowing it down. Individual senators have greater power than House members to slow legislative processes, and critics like Leahy could choose to take advantage of this.

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