Participatory Medicine via Online Social Networking

Great NPR story today on how online social networking is helping to bring medical patients together to talk about their conditions and compare treatments.


The story quotes Susannah Fox of the Pew Internet and American Life Project:


“They are posting their first-person accounts of treatments and side effects from medications,” says Fox. “They are recording and posting those podcasts. They’re tagging content. They are part of the conversation. And that, I think, is an indicator of where we could be going in terms of the future of participatory medicine.”

For every story that talks about the bad on the Internet, there are are hundreds of positive examples about how online communities improves lives. If only we can get the doctors to use online technology more often….

-Braden Cox

OSTWG Discusses Parental Controls for Child Safety

Emerson once said that we should do the thing we fear, and then death of fear is certain. Similarly, parents that fear their child’s use of technology can use technology themselves to monitor, filter and block their children’s Internet use.


I’m a member of the NTIA Online Safety and Technology Working Group (OSTWG). Our third meeting was on parental controls, child protection technologies and content rating methods. Adam Thierer organized a wealth of speakers to discuss tools available from ISPs, tools existing in operating systems, browsers, and search, and settings that exist in some social networking websites. Read more

What about the Children? The Emerging Case for a "Child Exception" to First Amendment Protections

FirstAmendment.pngWhat to do about the influences of media and advertising on children? Generally, the saying goes that where you stand depends on where you sit–but that was not apparent at today’s event on children and media.


There were 4 seats (plus moderator) at the panel on “Media, Kids, and the First Amendment” that was co-hosted by Georgetown Law School and Common Sense Media–a professor, lobbyist, FCC regulator, and attorney general. Surprisingly, while there was common ground to be shared, only the lobbyist was truly advocating on behalf of a strong First Amendment. Read more

"It’s not really the statute that’s confusing here, it’s the technologies."

Just read this AP article that reported on a Tuesday hearing of the Ohio Supreme Court about an Ohio “harmful to minors” law. According to the article, the statute makes it illegal to distribute harmful material to minors through “direct communications by people who know or have reason to believe the recipient is a minor.” Read more

Maine Committee Does the Right Thing, Recommends Repeal of Marketing Law

maine capitol bildg Sometimes legislators vote along political party interests, sometimes in their self interest, and as we saw in Maine–sometimes legislators will have the constitutional interests of free speech and the commerce clause in mind.


NetChoice traveled to Augusta last week to testify at a joint judiciary committee hearing of the Maine legislature. Our mission: persuade the committee members to repeal the Predatory Marketing Act, which became law just two months ago–and a law so bad that it ranked #1 on NetChoice’s iAWFUL top ten list of worst legislation. Read more

Sticks and Stones Can Break Your Bones–and Words Can Land You in Jail

playground Why treat bullying online any different than if it occurred on the playground? That was one of the thoughts expressed at yesterday’s Congressional hearing on cyberbullying and online safety.


Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-CA) has introduced the “Megan Meier Cyber Bullying Prevention Act” (H.R. 1966). The bill imposes criminal penalties on anyone who transmits in interstate or foreign commerce a communication “intended to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to another person, using electronic means to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior.” Read more

Illinois Bans Sex Predators from Social Networking Sites

An Illinois bill to ban convicted sex predators from social networking sites (HB 1314) is now law. Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill yesterday. Even if predation on social networking sites is very rare, we certainly prefer to see efforts that target bad actors instead of tech mandates or age verification requirements. Given the broad definition of “social networking website” in the law, the ban might apply to many types of Internet sites. Read more

Sometimes the Truth is More Easily Expressed…through Puppets

This video from a puppet maker in Australia has an interesting take on the fear-mongering that often drives public policy for Internet safety. The video does a good job of putting into perspective the real risk to kids of online predation.


For instance, we often hear the scary statistic that “1 in 5 children are sexually solicited online.” This was based on data originally released by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). It’s since been updated to 1 in 7, which still sounds bad, but not so bad in perspective — what does solicitation mean, and by whom? Well, “solicitation” is broadly defined to mean “unwanted contact.” In the study, it encompasses any unwanted discussion of a sexual nature. But the real perspective comes from learning 90% of this unwanted contact comes from other peers or young adults! So, it’s rarely the creepy perverted middle-age man in a wife beater t-shirt — even though the messaging from many policymakers focuses almost entirely on this scenario.    Read more

Louisiana Bill Taxes Internet Access Despite Federal Moratorium

There’s a hearing going on as I write on a Louisiana bill (HB 569) that would create a new tax on the Internet bills of consumers, despite the fact that there’s a federal moratorium prohibiting it.


We just heard Attorney General James D. “Buddy” Caldwell say that this isn’t a “tax”, it’s a “fee.”  Louisiana is taking an interesting approach – HB 569 would impose a tax of 15 cents per month on ISP subscribers that would go to preventing and prosecuting Internet-based crimes against children.  AG Caldwell claims that it is merely a “usage fee” — the price we pay for using the Internet. Read more

Nothing Nice on This List — Introducing iAWFUL, a NetChoice Initiative


Some of the biggest threats to the Internet have always come from well-meaning lawmakers looking to “fix” it. And lately, there’s been a whole lot of fixin’ efforts going on.

At NetChoice, we’ve always been committed to challenging legislation that threatens our vibrant industry. Today more than ever, we need a more unified and systemic approach to combat bad legislation.

That’s why we’ve created iAWFUL, the Internet Advocates Watchlist for Ugly Laws.  Read more