Super V-Chip Aims to Block Content on Everything, Will Probably Fail

The Senate Commerce Committee has approved legislation that would enjoin the FCC to oversee the development of a "super V-chip" that would block content on cellphones, TVs, the internet—anywhere tender young eyes could land upon "inappropriate" content. Unfortunately for its proponents, the Child Safe Viewing Act's initiative will probably bomb even harder than the 1996 Telecommunications Act's V-chip provision—sure there's a V-chip in all of our TVs, but who actually uses them? Hell, when was the last time you even thought about it until just now?

As sponsoring Sen. Mark Pryor correctly surmises, content is increasingly slippery, sliding from device to device with relative ease—if you want to strap blinders on children, you have to think outside of the box in your living room. But his goal is wholly unrealistic. The reason he wants a super V-chip—the infinitude of content that needs to be managed across a vast array of devices—is the very reason why any kind of super V-chip would fail. It's like trying to hold back an ocean with a fishing net.

Beyond that, forcing manufacturers to shove chips into TVs is relatively easy compared to equipping essentially every consumer electronics device with one, which is what would be necessary to filter content at the absolute end user level. And there's no point in worrying about that until every piece of content itself is tagged in a way for the chip to identify it. Finally, there's that little problem the first V-chip ran into: no one used it.

It would probably be easer to make a super-duper V-chip that's implanted at birth which would screen everything a kid sees and hears, not just TV or the internet. Real life probably has the most inappropriate content of any medium, so it's high time we started screening it, too—we don't want kids exposed to any of that dirty business. [Yahoo!/Reuters, Image via Flickr]