Monday, January 29, 2007

Microsoft Vista and parental controls -- applicable to COPA?

Major media outlets are reporting the upcoming release of Microsoft Windows Vista on Tuesday Jan 31. Vista will offer a Parental Controls panel that will allow parents to monitor their kids' use of computers closely, 24x7, setting time limits, whitelisting or blacklisting various programs and specific websites. The URL for Microsoft's description of the facility is this.

Of course, it will be some time, maybe even years, before Vista is common in homes, and its provisions would not apply to Apple/Mac or to machines running Linux or any older PC operating systems. It is not clear how it would fit into the "least restrictive means" analysis of the COPA trial. It is also not clear whether it is specifically geared to content labels, although it sounds like it probably will be easy for Microsoft to tailor it to talk to ICRA, etc. It does appear that Microsoft uses java applets to supply the monitoring facilities.

One point noted by the Supreme Court even in 2004 was that technology is changing rapidly, and older least restrictive means analysis could become obsolete.

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