“Techno‐Panics” are public and political crusades against the use of new media or technologies, particularly driven by the desire to protect children. As the moniker suggests, they’re not rational. Techno‐panic is about imagined or trumped‐up threats, often with a tenuous, coincidental, or potential relationship to the Internet. Adam Thierer and Berin Szoka of the Progress & Freedom Foundation have written extensively about techno‐panics on the TechLiberationFront blog.
Talking about techno‐panic does not deny the existence of serious problems. It merely identifies when policymakers and advocates lose their sense of proportion and react in ways that fail to address the genuine issues—such as censoring a web site because it reveals the fact that some few among a community of tens of millions of people will conspire to break the law.
You’d think that a congressional representative from the heart of Silicon Valley would not sow techno‐panic, but here’s Jackie Speier (D‐Calif.) on the Craigslist censorship issue:
“We can’t forget the victims, we can’t rest easy. Child‐sex trafficking continues, and lawmakers need to fight future machinations of Internet‐driven sites that peddle children.”
Of all representatives in Congress, Speier should know that Craigslist has been making it easier for law enforcement to locate and enforce the law against any perpetrators of crimes against children. Pushing them to rogue sites does law enforcement no good. Censoring Craiglist only masks the problem, which may be in the interest of politicians, but definitely not children.