Techdirt Podcast Episode 380: How To Actually Help Kids Online

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from the doing-things-differently dept

As we’ve written about repeatedly, efforts to protect kids online and improve their mental health at the moment all seem to be focused on taking social media away from them, even though all the evidence suggests this would be harmful, not helpful. Today, we’re joined by Rob Morris, who aims to take a different approach with his online mental health service Koko, for a discussion about how the real way to help kids is to meet them where they’re at.
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from the always-looking-out-for-the-most-powerful-people dept

Prior restraint but it’s a law.
Everyone saw this coming. “Marsy’s Laws” began popping up all over the nation, written to prevent the naming of crime victims, especially when the victims were minors. It was perceived as a way to protect victims’ privacy and, hopefully, head off harassment from the not-inconsequential portion of humanity that seems to enjoy making suffering people feel even worse.
But most of the press generated by Marsy’s laws has been generated by cops. Not because these cops helped ensure the laws were followed to protect crime victims but to keep their own names out of the papers after killing or maiming people.
As long as a cop could claim they were a victim of crime during the beating/killing of someone else, they could avail themselves of this law to avoid seeing their names in print. And, since nearly any action can be called “assault” when it involves being in the vicinity of police officer, cops pulled the Marsy’s card wherever it was applicable, preventing journalists, public records requesters, or the victims of crimes perpetrated by these cops from publishing their names.
Late last year, one of these laws was neutralized by Florida’s Supreme Court. Florida law enforcement officers insisted the victims’ rights law covered them, even if they were the ones doing the most crime. The court ruled the law could not grant a categorical right to withhold any crime victim’s name from disclosure, not without violating other parts of the state constitution.
The court specifically cited two rights found in the state constitution: the right of the criminally accused to confront their accuser, and the guaranteed right to access public records. That ruling was the end of the state’s Marsy’s law.
Rather than recognize the law was bad and that cops shouldn’t attempt to avoid accountability and scrutiny by misusing it, the Florida legislature — which hasn’t met a bad law it can’t write — has offered up a pair of bills that would allow the state’s law enforcement officers to, once again, kill or beat residents without worrying about their names being made public.
Tellingly, the bill only expands the definition to cover government employees “who use deadly force.” This makes it clear Rep. Brannan would prefer killer cops to have a bit more impunity to go with the massive amount of power they already have.
The wording also makes it clear Rep. Brannan either didn’t read or didn’t understand the state Supreme Court’s decision. The ruling made it clear no law that kept any crime victim’s name secret would be constitutional under the state’s constitution. The state legislature would need to amend the constitution to make this happen, not just write new bills that are just as unconstitutional as the law the court struck down.
Even supporters of Marsy’s laws (which have their own constitutional problems) are irritated cops keep hijacking laws meant to protect people who aren’t public servants being paid in tax dollars.
If this bill becomes law (and it’s Florida, so it probably will), it will immediately be ruled unconstitutional. Neither of these proposals make any sense given this recent ruling. The legislators backing these bills are either willfully ignorant or pitiably stupid. Neither option bodes well for the people subjected daily to the daily tyranny of Florida’s elected dipshits.
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