I remember coming across a post a while ago by our friends at Global Voices about the way in which Hong Kong was fighting piracy in the country. In 2006, the state enlisted Youth Ambassadors to monitor the web and report offenses. Soon after this army of “teenage internet spies” was released into cyberspace, more than three-fifths of the offending postings were deleted.

It was an interesting approach to say the least. Although, I must admit that there’s something incredibly unnerving about boy scouts, girl guides, and other uniformed youths between the ages 9-25 being armed and honored as a youth brigade that sounds like it came out of a George Orwell novel.

So if the solution to the problem of piracy among digital natives is not implementing a teen spy program, what is it? As Diana wrote, “how should the black line between right and wrong be enforced?” Born Digital provides helpful starting points for what parents, teachers, technologists, and law makers need to work together on to accomplish. The two I found most important were to use the law to encourage Digital Natives’ creativity rather than stunt it, and also to educate DNs about what the laws are in a way that they will understand and appreciate – something which the Creative Commons project has been doing great work on.

Although I’m not not a fan of Youth Ambassadors and teen spies as a solution, I do believe it would be beneficial to have Youth Legislators. If this is an issue affecting, and arising primarily from, the Digital Native community, it is those that should be made a crucial part of the law-making process. As John Palfrey and Urs Gasser note in Born Digital, “In an environment where almost everything is possible, but not necessarily legal, it’s crucial that we teach Digital Natives about their responsibilities, as well as about their rights.” If we want young people to be engaged and interested in civics and their rights, and if we want them to believe they can make a difference in how those rights are dictated, we need to allow them to be active, vocal participants in the dialogue on where that “black line” should be drawn and how to effectively enforce it.

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