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Commissioner Arthur H. DeRosier, Jr.
Rocky Mountain College

Participating in the Commission on Online Child Protection has been both frustrating and exhilarating. Nineteen original Commissioners were faced with an assignment without federal funding, and a timetable almost impossible to meet—seven months from meeting each other in Washington, D.C. in March, 2000 to an agenda, hearings, evaluation of myriad technologies and invited and non-invited reports, articles, and expressions of opinion, and, finally, the need to sift through it all finding nuggets worthy of consideration, and reaching recommendations worthy of the high calling felt by all of the Commission members in October 2000. To my knowledge, no investigating and recommending body has had more potholes to avoid, and no group with whom I have ever been associated worked harder or smarter for the public good than did the COPA Commission.

The Commission recommendations on public education, consumer empowerment, law enforcement, and industry call for action were crafted out of hard evidence, thoughtful concerns from various viewpoints, and were agreed to unanimously by conservatives as well as liberals on a Commission crying for solutions to a deepening dilemma while wanting to protect First Amendment rights all Americans cherish. We knew we could not keep and eat our cake simultaneously, but we wanted to provide observations, evidence, and recommendations worthy of a Congress seeking input and a nation wanting answers.

The Commission dealt with an industry growing at an alarming rate, technology changing daily, and children more knowledgeable about the internet and how it is accessed and used than parents who grew up in a simpler world. I especially offer recommendations 1 and 2 to all interested in the solution to this dilemma. This is not a problem that can be solved by parents alone—parents both of whom might be working (if there are two parents) and whose children have access to the internet at home, in school, at the home of a friend or caregiver, or home alone without parental supervision. Neither is it a government alone dilemma to solve. Yes, the government is concerned and can help, but the solution to this problem must be found in a forging of parental and government activity. Government needs to undertake a public awareness campaign, and parents need to learn more about technology and the internet. One cannot remain untutored and hope to make a difference. One cannot say: "don't do this" or "don't do that." Those are commands signifying fury without knowledge, blind utterances without understanding.

On the other hand, government and industry have to shed adversarial roles and work together to promote acceptable use policies. The government cannot do this alone: neither can one expect industry to go it alone if government cares not to help. It is to industry's benefit to labor long and hard to end child access to pornography—a goal sought by parents—and a goal that will clearly forestall a stream of government laws and policies that hurt an industry that seems not to care about the public good.

Though the short road just trod by the COPA Commission was a difficult one, it was illuminated by a talented, caring Chairman, Donald Telage, talented and responsible fellow Commissioners whose energy was amazing and whose abilities would grace any Commission, and a Dittus staff that deserves applause and deep appreciation. I would like individually to single out five individuals who helped me greatly; Senator Conrad Burns, who nominated me for membership on the Commission, Brett Scott, President of Capital Coalitions in Washington, D.C., Todd Capser, Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Technology Foundation in Billings, Montana, Susan Stewart, the College's Controller monitoring a COPA restricted account housed on our campus, and Suzanne Dierenfield, an Administrative Assistant without peer in my office. They offered guidance, sound advice, and much work as I made my way forward in the good work of a fine Commission which, too, deserves applause.




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