If you're like millions of Americans, you probably arrive home from work, pour yourself a glass of wine or open a can of beer, and sit down in front of your computer for a relaxing night on the World Wide Web. Maybe you'll look up the new dates for Adema or check out the schedules for Crosby, Stills & Nash or 12 Stones. Time passes, one drink leads to another, and before the night is over you've become one more number on an alarmingly long list of statistics.
You're surfing the Web while under the influence.
Although conclusive evidence is still in the manufacturing stage, recent studies show that three out of four Web accidents occur when the person behind the keyboard has a blood alcohol content reaching, or exceeding, 0.1 percent. Maybe it will be something minor - a misspelling that leads you to a porn site, or a misinterpreted program execution command that forces your computer to launch Kazaa and illegally download copyrighted songs by James Brown or Pat Benatar. Maybe you even think that having a couple of drinks while cruising the Web is a "victimless crime," and that you're hurting no one but yourself.
Over three million Americans suffered serious injury or worse from consuming alcohol while surfing the Web in 2002. Even more alarming is the number of people who spammed every man, woman and child on the Net while inebriated. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
What can you do? Appoint a designated mouser, someone who will lead you safely to your home page on those nights when you have over-imbibed while looking up the latest schedules for Tower of Power and Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials. Secondly, make a pact with a trusted family member, a written agreement that he or she will shut down your computer, no questions asked, the next time you pass out in a drunken stupor while trying to bring up the dates for Brian Setzer Orchestra. And finally, support upcoming legislation, often referred to as the Ashcroft Referendum, that will allow police officers to enter your home unannounced and administer sobriety tests while your eyeballing the routings for Insane Clown Posse, Aaron Neville and Fleetwood Mac.
Keeping the Internet safe from intoxicated surfers is everybody's business. For if we can't have a clean and sober World Wide Web, we'll have no one to blame but ourselves for the Matt Drudges and the FreeRepublic.coms of tomorrow. Remember, surfing the Web is a privilege, not a right. Don't abuse it.
This message brought to you by the United States Attorney General's Office.