December 05, 2002

With the passage into law of the "" subdomain, ( Dot Kids Implementation and Efficiency Act of 2002) which I refer to as "dot-kidding", I'm collecting in one post my earlier comments on why it's such a ill-fated idea. While the concept is certainly very pleasant, that political appeal seems to have completely overridden any thought about what is in fact being proposed. This is not a "children's room". It's a government whitelist. Below are some of my explanations as to where a government whitelist has all sorts of implementation problems. Blather, blather:

To facilitate the creation of a new, second-level Internet domain within the United States country code domain that will be a haven for material that promotes positive experiences for children and families using the Internet, provides a safe online environment for children, and helps to prevent children from being exposed to harmful material on the Internet, and for other purposes.

The Basic Problem:

The concept can be condensed down to one basic idea, that the US government will certify sites as OK-for-minors. There is no need to have this certification as a domain name. It could be done just as well with a simple list of US government certified OK-for-minors sites, and that would be vastly simpler to administer.

The dirty little secret of this boondoggle is as follows:


Almost nobody wants "whitelists". Whitelists have been around for years and years and years. I could write pages on this history of the idea. Just think about the basics. It's not like the concept just now occurred to people.

Is It OK To Be Happy and Gay?:

Here's why it's not a panacea. Consider the standard:

(5) SUITABLE FOR MINORS- The term `suitable for minors' means, with respect to material, that it--

`(A) is not psychologically or intellectually inappropriate for minors; and
`(B) serves--
`(i) the educational, informational, intellectual, or cognitive needs of minors; or
`(ii) the social, emotional, or entertainment needs of minors.'.

Now, the question: Does the book Heather Has Two Mommies meet this standard? Think about the implications.

Linking Lunacy:

Consider the requirement of no outside links:

"(11) Written agreements with registrars, which shall require registrars to enter into written agreements with registrants, to prohibit hyperlinks in the new domain that take new domain users outside of the new domain."

Besides being redundant (if one is already restricted to the sandbox, why prohibit hyperlinks?), there is a very deep problem here. Are they really saying that there is a profound difference between

"See the material at"


"See the material at (which is located at , as you have probably figured out, but is not a hyperlink, because if we made a hyperlink to we'd be violating our contract, so we can't make a hyperlink to"

Either they end up meaning "no URLs", which is even sillier, or we have a profound problem of not understanding that hyperlinks are nothing more than convenient references. That is, if the exact same reference is acceptable as long as it is not a "hyperlink", that seems to defeat the purpose.

I suppose none of the sites will be able to run common mailing-list or groups/bboard software which tends to turn URLs into hyperlinks.

Maybe it'll be like curse words, e.g. "s*cks" (umm, how many asterisks are going to be needed to be OK?). We can have http://p**f*r*.*rg

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware , infothought | on December 05, 2002 02:45 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups

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