The truth is that regulating the internet more is something we should have done at least a decade ago. Why the World Wide Web is not treated the same way as radio or television and subject to similar disclosure rules and constraints on content is a bit mysterious, but it comes down largely to geriatric control of our governing institutions and the recalcitrance of the same tech tycoons who also go to virtually unlimited lengths to avoid paying workers a just wage or contributing their fair share of taxes. Radio has been under the authority of the Federal Communications Commission since 1934 and broadly regulated in ways that would be unthinkable online since 1927. Broadcast television has been under the thumb of the FCC since its inception, and non-basic cable channels have, at least by day and during primetime hours, largely toed the line set established for their predecessors.

The internet is not like books or films — or at least books and films in the pre-internet era — which must be tracked down by people who already have some idea of what they are looking for and if they are minors at least the tacit permission of their parents. Like television and radio, it is a fundamentally open and passive medium whose content, from Pat Boone’s Wikipedia entry to hardcore pornography, is available instantly to anyone with a connection. As I write this at a friendly neighborhood coffee shop in the early afternoon, the only thing preventing the kindly-looking old gentleman sitting next to me from pulling up videos of octopuses raping Japanese schoolgirls is his decency and patriotism. Not everyone is so stalwart.