News Releases
News Coverage
News Media
PFF Highlights
News Release
CONTACT: Amy Smorodin
February 22 , 2007
(202) 289-8928
Education is Key to Online Safety Efforts
Thierer Applauds SAFER NET Act as a Positive Alternative to Regulation

WASHINGTON D.C. - Education, not increased governmental regulation, is the most effective method of ensuring online child safety, states Adam Thierer in "Rep. Bean's 'SAFER Net Act': An Education-Based Approach to Online Child Safety." In the new Progress on Point released today by The Progress & Freedom Foundation, Thierer applauds the recently introduced SAFER Net Act as an effective, comprehensive plan to address Internet safety. The author also urges lawmakers to look to established private efforts when crafting public sector educational programs.

In his paper, Thierer, PFF Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Digital Media Freedom, states that while there have been a few uncoordinated efforts by federal agencies to promote online safety and media literacy, the majority of recent legislative efforts seek to regulate websites or restrict online content. The author explains that educational efforts teaching children to safely navigate online are likely to be more effective than content controls and blocking technology. Educational efforts would also not raise constitutional concerns regarding the First Amendment.

Thierer lauds the introduction of a bill in the U.S. House that seeks to establish online safety educational programs at the federal level. The "Safeguarding America's Families by Enhancing and Reorganizing New and Efficient Technologies (SAFER NET) Act of 2006," reintroduced earlier this month by Rep. Bean (D-IL), would create an Office of Internet Safety and Public Awareness at the Federal Trade Commission, establish federal grants to promote Internet safety programs and create a national public awareness campaign. The author also voices support for efforts at the local and state level to compliment federal efforts by offering media literacy and Internet safety materials and lessons in schools.

When crafting online child safety public awareness and educational campaigns, Thierer urges policymakers to consider other successful federal educational initiatives, such as the "Smokey the Bear" forest fire prevention campaign. These outreach campaigns have combined public service announcements and educational materials distributed throughout schools and government institutions. Thierer also recommends that policymakers recognize successful online child safety tools and programs established by various private groups and industry initiatives. Such programs, tailored to parents and children, offer effective information, lessons and other tools to teach online safety.

"Rep. Bean's 'SAFER Net Act': An Education-Based Approach to Online Child Safety," is available on the PFF website. In the near future, Thierer will be releasing a Progress & Freedom Foundation Special Report on online child protection. "Parental Controls & Online Child Protection: A Survey of Tools and Methods," will be a comprehensive guide for parents and policymakers on available tools related online child safety.

The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.



The Progress & Freedom Foundation