Thursday, February 15, 2007

Lost In Space

I've just had an epiphany. In a growing percentage of examples, the words "apparent" and "a parent" have nothing in common except their sound. This realization dawned on me while I was reading this article concerning the lawsuit against MySpace.

The lawsuit was for 30 million dollars and had been filed by the family of a 13-year-old girl who said she had been sexually assaulted by a 19-year-old man that she met online. The lawsuit accused MySpace of having no measures to protect children who use it and also named MySpace's parent company, News Corp., and the 19-year-old, whose criminal case has not yet gone to trial. Jason Itkin, an attorney for the girl and her family said, "This is allowing sites like MySpace to avoid the responsibility to make the Internet safe for children. MySpace knows its Web site is a playground for sexual predators. Because of that, MySpace should be doing some very basic safety precautions."

(After reading the last paragraph, all level-headed, intelligent and responsible adults just went, "Huh?" as if something didn't quite make sense. If that was not your reaction, please stop reading now, start spending all of your free time learning macrame and never, ever, have children.)

What happened to the parents "doing some very basic safety precautions"? I guess we've arrived at the point where parents want to be able to let the television be the babysitter until the children are 10 or 11-years-old and then the computer can bear the brunt until the eighteenth birthday. That way, the kids can have MySpace and the adults can have TheirSpace.

The one piece of good news out of the entire fiasco was that the judge is one of the few remaining judges who can actually "think" and is not in favor of frivolous lawsuits. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks said MySpace is protected under the Communications Decency Act and cannot be expected to verify the age of every user because that "would of course stop MySpace's business in its tracks." So, he dismissed the lawsuit.

The ruling will be appealed, of course. After all, it's about principle; not 30 million dollars.

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