The Federal Communicaions Commission Friday released its notice of inquiry on content control technologies (officially titled "Empowering Parents and Protecting Children in an Evolving Media Landscape"). The inquiry notice includes citing a litany of potential risks the commission ascribes to media use.
Among the questions the FCC asks is what authority is has over various media and whether legislation might be necessary to give it more.
The notice was teed up by a report to Congress back in August on parental control technologies for video and audio. The report included lots of questions the FCC still wants answers to dealing with various media including broadcast, cable and the Internet.
"Through this NOI, we seek information on the extent to which children are using electronic media today, the benefits and risks these technologies bring for children, and the ways in which parents, teachers, and children can help reap the benefits while minimizing the risks," the FCC said in a statement.
The commission is seeking information on media literacy, government coordination of efforts and its legal authority to regulate. It is unclear how much authority the FCC would have over Internet content or cable or satellite, for instance.
"We ask commenters, in proposing any action, to discuss the source and extent of the Commission's authority to take the action," the commission says on whether new legislation would be needed to authorize such action. "In addition, as discussed above, commenters should discuss the compatibility of any proposed action with the First Amendment."
The FCC plans to use the information gathered in the inquiry in a review of its children's TV regulations.
While the FCC cites "positive impacts" like educational content, technical literacy, communications with peers, telemedicine that media use "may have," it also says the media presents "risks of harm" and includes a long list of those:
"(i) exposure to exploitative advertising; (ii) exposure to inappropriate content (such as offensive language, sexual content, violence, or hate speech); (iii) impact on health (for example, childhood obesity, tobacco use, sexual behavior, or drug and alcohol use); (iv) impact on behavior (in particular, exposure to violence leading to aggressive behavior); (v) harassment and bullying; (vi) sexual predation; (vii) fraud and scams; (viii) failure to distinguish between who can and who cannot be trusted when sharing information; and (ix) compromised privacy."