The Internet, despite challenges, has maintained much of its relative freedom as a convenient cyberspace commons for all to share. But making the Internet safe for young people to use remains an issue for concern, and vigilance is required to keep various vices at bay.
One relatively new phenomenon is kids ordering alcoholic beverages over the Net. A National Academies of Science report this year shows that 10 percent of minors have obtained alcohol over the Internet or through home delivery.
The vast majority of Americans are rightfully disturbed by this development. In Michigan, for instance, 89 percent of state residents think underage drinking becomes a serious concern if beer, wine, and other alcohol can be purchased over the Net or through the mail, according to a survey released last month by the Coalition for a Safe and Responsible Michigan.
That tracks nationally with another reputable national poll last year, in which 77 percent of Americans were opposed to selling alcohol to minors over the Web.
The US Supreme Court last month agreed to Michigan's appeal of a circuit court decision that would have diluted the state's alcohol regulations, and allowed unregulated sales of alcohol by out-of-state retailers and producers through the Internet and direct mail. A decision is expected next year.
ID checks, commonplace where alcoholic beverages are sold, obviously are more problematic on the Web. Online liquor sites often don't confirm a birthdate (easily faked) - just a credit card number.
As the Internet's commercial appeal widens, citizens and lawmakers must not let passion for convenience compromise the laws of the land.