6 Steps to Save Your Library from DOPA

1. Contact your Senator before Sept. 5th to:
a. Tell him/her your opinion of DOPA (see YALSA’s Legislative
Advocacy Guide for quick tips on contacting your Senator).
b. Educate him/her about the positive uses of Social Networking
Sites (use the information in YALSA’s Toolkit on Teens &

Social Networking in School & Public Libraries).
To find out who our Senator is & what number to call, go here.
To email your Senator, go here.

2. Sign the online petition opposing DOPA at Save Your Space

3. Host an information session at your library about DOPA and social networking sites (see YALSA’s Toolkit on Teens & Social Networking in School & Public Libraries for tips and ideas).

4. Tell YALSA how you’re using social networking technologies at your library. Go here From there you can add a link to your library’s MySpace space as well as join in on the discussion about how you’re using social networking technologies in your library.

5. Invite your Senator to your library while they’re home from DC between August 7th and September 4th.
a. Have teens on hand to demonstrate productive ways they use

social networking technologies
b. Provide the Senator with a photo-op (e.g. giving a summer
reading award to a teen or reading a story to kids)
c. Give the Senator information about social networking sites and show him/her what your library is already doing to keep
children and teens safe online.
6. Personalize and send the follwing sample letter to the editor to your local newspaper, and encourage your library patrons to do the same.

LETTER:
Sample Letter to the Editor
(please feel free to make additions or changes so that it better fits any particular messages you want to get across)

Librarians care deeply about children and teens and are concerned about their safety online and in our community. While Congress’ effort to make children and teens more safe online is admirable, the proposed Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) that is currently being debated by our nation’s legislators, will actually do little to make our kids safer. What it will do is block access to critical Internet resources and communication tools in schools and libraries that our kids need to learn how to use in order to be successful in college and the workplace. It also takes control away from communities like ours, and leaves the decision making about what our children can access on the Internet to the politicians in Washington DC.

DOPA seeks to further limit kids’ access to online resources at school and in libraries. That means it would prevent librarians and teachers from instructing students and their parents about how to use all kinds of Web applications safely and effectively. Because it is linked to federal funding, DOPA also hurts most those kids served by schools and libraries in low-income communities.

DOPA would restrict online support groups, email programs through which family members can communicate with each other, and educational tools used to provide distance education, squashing kids’ first attempts at becoming acquainted with applications that will soon be essential workplace tools. Just one example of what could be lost in a rush to legislate is a recent online field trip to Carlsbad Caverns in N.M., in which more than 10 million students participated and First Lady Laura Bush took part.

Perhaps the most troubling part of DOPA is the false sense of security it gives parents who are seeking solutions to the problem of online predators. Like dangers to kids in the real world, dangers on the Internet are not easily overcome. Teaching young people to practice safe behaviors and guard their privacy online the same way they would in public is critical if we want to protect them.

Please join me in urging Congress to make a real commitment to kids’ safety by abandoning bad legislation like DOPA and funding our libraries and schools adequately so they have the resources they need to empower our community’s kids to stay safe on the Internet.

Sincerely,
[insert your name here]

Thanks Larry Magid

Judy Nelson discovered an article on the CBS News site by Larry Magid about why DOPA is not a good idea. Magid has been writing about safety on the Internet for many years and he was one of the first non-librarian/teacher adults I knew of who was speaking out about how parents need to help their children and teens be safe online.

Thanks Larry! I hope more people follow in your footsteps.

DOPA Update

According to the ALA Washington Office, DOPA is being fast-tracked in the Senate. An article in the NYT today said it may come up for a vote as early as next week. YALSA is putting together some resources and preparing for an advocacy campaign, and we’ll need members’ help. So, please stay tuned. When we know more next week, we will need to act quickly.
The NYT article is called “Chat Rooms Could Face Expulsion,” by Declan McCullagh. Judy Nelson, YALSA’s President, will be sending a response to this article. Next week YALSA will have sample letters to the editor that we’ll be asking members to send to their local newspapers. We will also have a Legislative Advocacy Guide that will make contacting your Senator easy, as well as a Social Networking Site Toolkit so you can help educate your coworkers and library users about the pros and cons of social networking sites, what DOPA may mean for them and how to stay safe on the Internet.

Posted by Beth Yoke

DOPA Thought

This summer I’ve been teaching a class and almost every week we’ve had some sort of discussion or update on DOPA. Today, the first thing we talked about was the House’s passage of the Bill yesterday.

At one point in the conversation one student lamented the fact that she hadn’t heard anything about DOPA anywhere except in and through the class.

That was actually something I’d been thinking about before class started this morning. I listened to the news on the radio before class, I listened to a couple of technology podcasts, I looked at The New York Times on the web. None of them focused in any way on DOPA and yesterday’s vote. This pointed out to me how much work we need to do. Yes, we need to call, email, or fax our Senators. But, we also need to help people in the communities in which we work understand the real implications of DOPA for teens and for libraries and schools.

Going out and “preaching the word” can be difficult. However, this is an instance when we need to get the word out. People like a quick and easy fix but there is nothing in this fix that supports teen developmental needs and teen ability to learn how to use technology smartly and safely. So, I hope, that along with letting your Senators know what you think you’ll also let your community members – including teens – know what you think and why.

DOPA Passes House

Today the US House of Representatives passed the amended Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) bill by a vote of 410-15. The proposed legislation will now go to the Senate. The Senate may or may not have time to vote on this before their session ends for the year. In the meantime, you can help out in two ways:

1. If your Representative was one of the ones listed below, please email them a quick thank you for opposing DOPA. Representatives who voted against DOPA: Conyers (Detroit, MI), Grijalva (Tuscon, AZ), Hinchey (Saugerties, NY), Honda (San Jose, CA), Kucinich (Cleveland, OH), Lee (Oakland, CA), Zoe Lofgren (San Jose, CA), McDermott (Seattle, WA), Payne (Newark, NJ), Schakowsky (Evanston, IL), Scott (Newport News, VA), Serrano (Bronx, NY), Stark (Fremont, CA), Watson (Los Angeles, CA), Woolsey (Petaluma, CA). Go to www.house.gov for contact info.

2. Start educating your Senators about the importance of social networking sites, which are the types of sites that will be blocked if DOPA passes. Go to www.senate.gov for contact info. Send them (and have parents & teens send) faxes and emails of personal stories about how you or your library patrons use these kinds of sites in productive, educational ways. Let them know what negative impact DOPA will have on libraries and library users if it passes. ALA has five key points that you can reference:
1. The terminology used in DOPA is still overly broad and unclear. As
written, this legislation would block access to many valuable websites

that utilize this type of communication, websites whose benefits
outweigh their detriments.

2. DOPA still ignores the value of Interactive Web applications. New
Internet-based applications for collaboration, business and learning are
becoming increasingly important, and young people must be prepared to
thrive in a work atmosphere where meetings take place online, where
online networks are essential communication tools.

3. Education, not laws blocking access, is the key to safe use of the
Internet. Libraries and schools are where kids learn essential
information literacy skills that go far beyond computer instruction and
web searching. Indeed, DOPA would block usuage of these sites in the
very environments where librarians and teachers can instruct students
about how to use all kinds of applications safely and effectively and
where kids can learn how to report and avoid unsafe sites.

4. Local decision-making – not federal law – is the way to solve the

problems addressed by DOPA. Such decisions are already being made
locally, in part due to the requirements of the Children’s Online
Protection Act (CIPA) for E-rate recipients. This additional
requirement is not necessary.

5. DOPA would restrict access to technology in the communities that need
public access most. H.R. 5319 still, as presently drafted, would
require libraries and schools receiving E-rate discounts through the
Universal Service Program to block computer users from accessing

Interactive Web applications of all kinds, thereby limiting
opportunities for those who do not have Internet access at home. This
unfairly denies the students and library users in schools and libraries
in the poorest communities from accessing appropriate content and from
learning how best to safely manage their own Internet access in
consultation with librarians and teachers.

Thank you for working to ensure that all Americans have easy access to critical Internet resources!
Posted by Beth Yoke

Please Fax Your House Rep ASAP

Please send a fax to your member of the House Wednesday morning indicating yours and ALA’s opposition to DOPA (HR 5319). Below is a sample message that you can use or adapt for the fax.

To find out who your Representative in the House is & what their fax # is, go here:
http://www.house.gov

July 26, 2006

RE: Opposition to H.R. 5319, the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA)

Dear Representative;

I write to indicate my opposition to H.R. 5319, the Deleting
Online Predators Act (DOPA). I understand this bill may come to the
House floor this afternoon and ask that you oppose this bill as it
presently reads.

No profession or community is more concerned about the safety of
children than our Nation’s librarians. Librarians in public libraries
and school library media centers work continuously to assure that

children have appropriate and safe access to the materials and
information services they need so that each each young person can become
literate and educated with the skills and knowledge to succeed in the
digital and online world.

I had hoped following the July 11th hearing on H.R. 5319 before the
Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the
Internet, that an amended version would seek to resolve some of the
problems expressed in ALA’s testimony. Unfortunately, the revised

language that ALA received only last night, does not make the necessary
changes that I believe would better serve the public interest and
contribute to true online safety for young people. As a voter in your district, I
urge opposition to H.R. 5319 for several reasons:

1. The terminology used in DOPA is still overly broad and unclear. As
written, this legislation would block access to many valuable websites
that utilize this type of communication, websites whose benefits
outweigh their detriments.

2. DOPA still ignores the value of Interactive Web applications. New
Internet-based applications for collaboration, business and learning are
becoming increasingly important, and young people must be prepared to
thrive in a work atmosphere where meetings take place online, where
online networks are essential communication tools.

3. Education, not laws blocking access, is the key to safe use of the
Internet. Libraries and schools are where kids learn essential

information literacy skills that go far beyond computer instruction and
web searching. Indeed, DOPA would block usuage of these sites in the
very environments where librarians and teachers can instruct students
about how to use all kinds of applications safely and effectively and
where kids can learn how to report and avoid unsafe sites.

4. Local decision-making – not federal law – is the way to solve the
problems addressed by DOPA. Such decisions are already being made
locally, in part due to the requirements of the Children’s Online

Protection Act (CIPA) for E-rate recipients. This additional
requirement is not necessary.

5. DOPA would restrict access to technology in the communities that need
public access most. H.R. 5319 still, as presently drafted, would
require libraries and schools receiving E-rate discounts through the
Universal Service Program to block computer users from accessing
Interactive Web applications of all kinds, thereby limiting
opportunities for those who do not have Internet access at home. This

unfairly denies the students and library users in schools and libraries
in the poorest communities from accessing appropriate content and from
learning how best to safely manage their own Internet access in
consultation with librarians and teachers.

It should also be noted that key witnesses at the July 11th hearing,
testified that limiting access to social networking sites in E-rate
schools and libraries will have little impact on the overall problem
since young people access these collaborative sites from many locations

and over a period of time.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
(put your name here)
-Posted by Beth Yoke

Letter to Congress

I tried to reply to Linda’s post, but my comment was “invalid!” so here it is:

OMG.

I didn’t check my email all day. See, bad things happen when you are offline!

I did compose a note to my Congressman, in the hopes he and his aides read their email in the AM.

Dear Congressman,

I am writing to implore you to vote AGAINST the Deleting Online Predators Act as it is currently written. The Internet today is a interactive and dynamic one, where ANY website that allows you to sign in and interact with other users is a social software website including online department stores like Amazon.com, WebCT (used for online courses), news sites like Digg.com and Instant Messaging services used by over 75% of teens! An educational exception can be applied to each and EVERY use of blogs, wikis, and social software – I learn something new every time I log on to a social software website, where I read, discuss, analyze, create, think critically, search, hypothesize, and prove. I cannot echo Beth Yoke, Executive Director of YALSA, enough: EDUCATION, NOT LAWS BLOCKING ACCESS, IS THE KEY TO SAFE USE OF THE INTERNET.

By largest concern is for students themselves. According to the Search Institute (url), there are forty developmental assets that teens need to grow up into healthy, contributing members of our society. Things like support in the form of adult mentors who are not blood relatives (i.e. an aspiring teen writer talking to an author in an online chat or via MySpace), clear boundaries (i.e. by following rules set by individual libraries and communities), being viewed as resources (i.e. valued for their fan fiction and web building and video game modding) and socialization (i.e. journalling, sharing photos, and creating films), to name a few. Access to these asset-building social softwares are KEY to teens emotional and psychological and physical and spiritual growth! How would banning collaborative web applications stunt that growth?

My next concern is that librarians, who are on the forefront of this Internet safety issue (and ethical use of the Internet, I might add!) were NOT included in the committee, although this legislation affects those that get E-rates. Why were no librarians included, when such legislation would have such a major impact? We are working so hard to DECREASE the digital divide by provided access to those who cannot get it at home – people in impoverished areas of the country, often people who are minorities.

My final concern is that this piece of legislation takes power AWAY from parents, and I simply do not believe it is the job of the government to be a parenting institution.

Although I understand schools act in loco parentis, and that students may be distracted at school by games, instant messaging, blogging, etc, drill and practice is boring for kids who have grown up playing video games. They need a sense of engagement to think more deeply. Perhaps, assignments should integrate social software web applications to meet the needs of today’s students. It’s a whole new literacy out there! Let’s prepare kids for it – not censor it.

Kind regards,

Beth Gallaway, MLS
Library trainer/consultant
Hampton NH

Please Call Your House Representative Today!

URGENT Action Needed: The ALA Washington Office has learned that the US House of Representatives may try to expedite passage of H.R. 5319, the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA), TOMORROW, July 26th. The bill is moving forward as is, with no changes to the original language.

PLEASE CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE’S OFFICE TODAY and ask that he/she oppose HR 5319. The Capitol Switchboard number is: 202-224-3121.

To find out who your Representative in the House is, go here.

To learn more about DOPA, please go here.

Thank you for your efforts to ensure that all library users will continue to have access to critical Internet resources via library and school computers!
Posted by Beth Yoke

tune in Thurs. to radio show covering DOPA

On Thurdsay July 20th at 10:05 AM (central) I’m scheduled to be interviewed about DOPA by Ricci Ware of San Antonio’s KTSA radio station. You can listen live at www.ktsa.com. This is a call-in show, and the interview is supposed to last 10 minutes. If you’d like to call in and share your opinion about DOPA and/or social networking sites and libraries tomorrow, the number is (210) 599-5555 or 1-800-299-KTSA (5872). You can also send an email to feedback@ktsa.com. Ricci Ware bills himself as “San Antonio’s most recognized conservative radio voice,” and you can learn more about him and KTSA at www.ktsa.com.

To learn more about the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA), go here.

To learn about Congress’s recent hearings on the proposed legislation, go to here.
-Posted by Beth Yoke