Monday, June 27, 2011

Supreme Court says states can't easily ban violent video game sales to minors

The Supreme Court has ruled early Monday, June 27, that California cannot regulate the sale of violent video games to children or minors, saying that states may not, according to the First Amendment, “restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed”, even when there is gratuitous violence.  The AP story by Jesse J. Holland is here.

Even socially conservative Scalia pointed out that the difference between common violence in popular video games and hidden violence in children's literature and in public school curricula is based on "ideas" which government cannot regulate.  

The case is “Brown, Governor of California v. Entertainment Merchants Association”, with slip opinion link here.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fed, state lawmakes press social networking companies harder on use by minos

COPA-like thinking is definitely back. Ceclia King has a Washington Post story Friday, “Lawmakers, advocates push social networks for more protection of youngest users”, link here

Even though Facebook’s policy says that minimum age for use is 13, there are about 7.5 million users under 13, and Facebook, as well as other companies, say there is little that can be done to screen them out reliably without severely affecting adults.  And, as we saw with the COPA litigation, many parents are, in practice, unable to supervise what their kids do on the web, although many technologies have been presented on this blog that could help them do so.  One place this debate could go is the existential one: how much “currency” should people have before “choosing” to have kids in the first place?  That takes us back to “demographic winter” territory.

California now considers a state law that gives parents the right to demand that social networking sites delete kids’ personal information (sounds reasonable).

Markey (D-MA) and Barton (R-TX), in may, had proposed a variation of “do not track” for youth, which would sound hard to implement in a way separate from adults, where browser vendors (at least Microsoft IE and Firefox) are rushing to enrich anti-tracking options for everyone. In fact, Microsoft has been pushing complicated automatic updates to Windows Vista and 7 customers to get them on to IE9, partly to answer the political concerns over tracking.