This week, the Senate Commerce Committee will apparently be considering S. 602, the “Child Safe Viewing Act of 2007,” which was introduced by Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) earlier this year. The measure marks an important turning point in the ongoing battle over content regulation in the Information Age–in one way for the better, but in some other ways for the worse.
The measure wisely avoids direct content regulation and instead focuses on empowering families to make media consumption decisions on their own. Unfortunately, the measure seeks to accomplish that goal through government actions that could have potentially troubling regulatory implications, especially because of the First Amendment issues at stake here. Specifically, S. 602 opens the door to an expansion of the FCC’s authority over media content on multiple platforms and threatens to undermine private, voluntary rating systems in the process.
I have just released a brief analysis of the measure discussing these concerns. This 5-page paper can be found online at: http://www.pff.org/issues-pubs/pops/pop14.17pryorchildsafetyviewingact.pdf