Congress sends FCC in search of chips

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No, the Senate Commerce Committee is not looking for snack food to take with it on its August recess. Mark Pryor (D-AR) believes that there are too many content outlets nowadays, and he’d like the FCC to research the possibility of giving parents a universal blocking device that can possibly protect children from all of them. As we expected, the vote on Pryor’s S. 602 the "Child Safe Viewing Act of 2007" was unanimous. Pryor’s bill instructs the FCC to begin a rulemaking proceeding within 120 days of the bill’s enactment in order to encourage of require the use of advanced blocking technologies, to identify such technologies, and to match up such devices across a wide spectrum of communications media including broadcast, cable, satellite, DVRs and other outlets. It also instructs the FCC to look into devices that "can filter language based upon information in closed captioning; operate independently of ratings pre-assigned by the creator of such video or audio programming; and may be effective in enhancing the ability of a parent to protect his or her child from indecent or objectionable programming, as determined by such parent." Some are calling what he is after a "super v-chip," and at least one observer, gizmodo.com, thinks the project is doomed to failure. Gizmodo observes that the vast array of distribution platforms are what will make the project impossible. "It’s like trying to hold back the ocean with a fishing net."


RBR observation: Gizmodo went even further – all the way to an Orwellian extreme – suggesting that we implant a v-chip into actual children at birth. This would protect them from objectionable content not only found in the media but also from the vast amount of objectionable speech and images that occurs in real life. You never know when tense and crowded road conditions combined with a rude and unpredictable act perpetrated by an incompetent driver is going to inspire an f-bomb right there in the family vehicle.