The first meeting of the Online Safety Technology Working Group (OSTWG) took place today and I just wanted to provide interested parties with relevant info and links in case they want to keep track of the task force’s work. As I mentioned back in late April, this new task force was established by the “Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act,” (part of the ‘‘Broadband Data Improvement Act’,’ Pub. L. No. 110-385) and it will report to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
I’m happy to be serving on this new working group and I am particularly honored to be serving as the chairman of 1 of the 4 subcommittees. The four subcommittees will address: data retention, child pornography, educational efforts, and parental controls technologies. I am chairing that last subcommittee on parental controls. The task force has about 35 members and we have a year to conduct our research and report back to Congress. Here are some relevant links from the NTIA website that provide additional details about this task force:
- Online Safety and Technology Working Group Background
- Meeting Webcast Archive (RealMedia)
- June 4, 2009, Public Meeting Agenda
Of course, this is certainly not the first task force to explore online safety issues. There was the COPA Commission (2000), the “Thornburgh Commission” report (2002), the U.K. “Byron Commission” report (2008), the Harvard Berkman Center’s Internet Safety Technical Task Force (2008), and the NCTA-iKeepSafe-CommonSenseMedia “Point Smart, Click Safe” working group, which is due to issue its final report shortly. [Full disclosure: I was a member of that last two task forces as well.] I’m currently working on a short paper that attempts to summarize the remarkably similar findings of these important child safety working groups. Generally speaking, they all concluded that education and empowerment, not regulation, were the real keys to moving forward and making our kids safer online.