July 11, 2006 4:35 PM PDT

MySpace may face legislative crackdown

Politicians on Tuesday accused MySpace.com and other social-networking sites of failing to protect minors from sexual predators and other malign influences and said a legislative crackdown may be necessary.

During a hearing before a House of Representatives subcommittee, politicians argued over the merits of compelling schools and libraries to cordon off access to social-networking sites, requiring some form of an Internet ID that would prove a person's age, or doing nothing at the moment.

"MySpace.com has been a center of drug activity, of gang activity, and of Internet predators," said Rep. Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican. "Isn't it entirely appropriate that the state get involved?"

One bill introduced in May would cordon off access from schools and libraries to commercial Web sites that let users create public "Web pages or profiles" and also offer a discussion board, chat room or e-mail service.

"If we could save one child, then it's worth it--that one child, that innocent child who may fall prey during the school hours because the legislation wasn't enacted," said David Zellis, an assistant district attorney in Bucks County, Penn., who testified at the hearing.

MySpace and other social-networking sites like LiveJournal.com and Facebook have come under increasing pressure from members of Congress hoping to appeal to voters before the November elections. The school and library filtering bill--called the Deleting Online Predators Act, or DOPA--is a centerpiece of a poll-driven Republican effort called the "Suburban Agenda."

DOPA defines a broad category that covers far more than social-networking sites such as Friendster and Google's Orkut.com. It would also sweep in a wide range of interactive Web sites and services that allow "users to create Web pages or profiles," including Blogger.com, AOL and Yahoo's instant-messaging features, and Microsoft's Xbox 360, which permits in-game chat. (CNET Networks, publisher of CNET News.com, might also be covered because of its member profile feature.)

Another idea that surfaced on Tuesday was to slap some form of age verification on social-networking sites.

"Putting restrictions on children's access to this, such as age verification, will all be steps in the right direction," said Greg Abbott, the Texas attorney general, who also testified.

Rep. John Shimkus, an Illinois Republican, suggested that Web sites find "a third-party age verification out there that can do that."

But some Democrats, joined by the American Library Association, said the proposals are flawed.

"If the goal is protecting children and combating child exploitation, why should these requirements apply only to schools receiving e-rate funding--the poorer schools?" said Rep. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat.

Rep. Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat who represents part of Silicon Valley, also said that DOPA was "really not the prescription to handle this" problem.

For its part, MySpace--now owned by Rupert Murdock's News Corp.--has taken steps this year to assuage concerns among parents and politicians. It has assigned some 100 employees, about one-third of its workforce, to deal with security and customer care, and hired Hemanshu (Hemu) Nigam, a former Justice Department prosecutor, as chief security officer.

But MySpace declined to send a representative to Tuesday's hearing, a slight that House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton called "unfortunate." Barton added that if Internet sites aren't taking adequate precautions, Congress should enact DOPA, "at the very least."

CNET News.com's Anne Broache contributed to this report.

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46 comments

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Not The Place For Government
This is not the place for legislated control, just like Net Neutrality.
Congress is voting on something that most of them do not use or
understand. I would like to see our elected officials configure a
wireless router and connect to the internet. Or customize a
myspace page. A minor is supposed to be in the care of a parent.
We have laws in place for child abuse and neglect. Use them. Stop
passing "feel good" laws and enforce the ones we have.
Posted by arrilaser (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Worth it to save one child?
Okay, I agree with that sentiment but I find it difficult to accept that crusading against this kind of website is the best place to apply it. If you want to save one child or more, campaign against guns which kill thousands and leave the internet alone
Posted by gavstamp (6 comments )
Link Flag
I agree 100%
A minor is supposed to be in the care of a parent
More parents should sign up to the sites that there children are on and be on regulary as a friend
I try to teach my 3 girls to be better and come to
me with any complaints they have on the sites
a social network should be monitored by blocking words and photos
Posted by leslieposey (5 comments )
Link Flag
Not The Place For Government
This is not the place for legislated control, just like Net Neutrality.
Congress is voting on something that most of them do not use or
understand. I would like to see our elected officials configure a
wireless router and connect to the internet. Or customize a
myspace page. A minor is supposed to be in the care of a parent.
We have laws in place for child abuse and neglect. Use them. Stop
passing "feel good" laws and enforce the ones we have.
Posted by arrilaser (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Worth it to save one child?
Okay, I agree with that sentiment but I find it difficult to accept that crusading against this kind of website is the best place to apply it. If you want to save one child or more, campaign against guns which kill thousands and leave the internet alone
Posted by gavstamp (6 comments )
Link Flag
I agree 100%
A minor is supposed to be in the care of a parent
More parents should sign up to the sites that there children are on and be on regulary as a friend
I try to teach my 3 girls to be better and come to
me with any complaints they have on the sites
a social network should be monitored by blocking words and photos
Posted by leslieposey (5 comments )
Link Flag
Myspace nothing new
I don't see Myspace as being more significantly different or dangerous as AOL back when it was in it's prime during the dial-up days. You had the profile, where I was able to post that I was 14 or whatever, tell where I lived, what school I attended, my interests, etc. You had the chatrooms (both official and member created), where I could have connected with local people (and potential predators). I had instant communication via the IM and the Buddy List.

The only differences I see is just that with broadband, people are spending WAY more time on the internet. Additionally, computers are so cheap (on the PC side) that many households can afford to have a computer for the parents and additional computers for the kids to use in their bedrooms.

So, the same principals of the late 90s still apply today on Myspace. Parents need to supervise their kids' activities and the kids need to be able to detect attempted foul-play.
Posted by darrius3365 (98 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Myspace nothing new
I don't see Myspace as being more significantly different or dangerous as AOL back when it was in it's prime during the dial-up days. You had the profile, where I was able to post that I was 14 or whatever, tell where I lived, what school I attended, my interests, etc. You had the chatrooms (both official and member created), where I could have connected with local people (and potential predators). I had instant communication via the IM and the Buddy List.

The only differences I see is just that with broadband, people are spending WAY more time on the internet. Additionally, computers are so cheap (on the PC side) that many households can afford to have a computer for the parents and additional computers for the kids to use in their bedrooms.

So, the same principals of the late 90s still apply today on Myspace. Parents need to supervise their kids' activities and the kids need to be able to detect attempted foul-play.
Posted by darrius3365 (98 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Give me a break!
> Politicians on Tuesday accused MySpace.com and other social-
> networking sites of failing to protect minors from sexual
> predators and other malign influences and said a legislative
> crackdown may be necessary.

Last time I checked this was the PARENTS job! Don't want your kids
talking to "predators" online? Monitor what they do! Their YOUR
kids! They're YOUR responsibility! This is NOT something that
needs to be addressed with tax dollars!
Posted by skellener (111 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Your wrong....
Welcome to the 21st century where parents no longer raise their kids. After all thats what TV, the Internet, video games, and schools are for.
Posted by TheShane (55 comments )
Link Flag
Give me a break!
> Politicians on Tuesday accused MySpace.com and other social-
> networking sites of failing to protect minors from sexual
> predators and other malign influences and said a legislative
> crackdown may be necessary.

Last time I checked this was the PARENTS job! Don't want your kids
talking to "predators" online? Monitor what they do! Their YOUR
kids! They're YOUR responsibility! This is NOT something that
needs to be addressed with tax dollars!
Posted by skellener (111 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Your wrong....
Welcome to the 21st century where parents no longer raise their kids. After all thats what TV, the Internet, video games, and schools are for.
Posted by TheShane (55 comments )
Link Flag
Another Pandora's Box
Ok, fact - like Napster, Pandora's Box is open. It will never close.

The problem is our out political structure, and politicians who are not mentally prepared for technology, and are fighting to keep thier power base as long as they can before the changes start.

The reality is they are fighting a loosing battle. These are "the people", if anyone has noticed values have changed.
Posted by SimpleTruth (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Another Pandora's Box
Ok, fact - like Napster, Pandora's Box is open. It will never close.

The problem is our out political structure, and politicians who are not mentally prepared for technology, and are fighting to keep thier power base as long as they can before the changes start.

The reality is they are fighting a loosing battle. These are "the people", if anyone has noticed values have changed.
Posted by SimpleTruth (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Parents Responsibility, NOT GOV'T!!!
Quite simply said without getting into major discussion points. Myspace, in respect to freedom of speech and other liberties granted to us as U.S. citizens, should not be forced to do anything. The company, in good will, has taken precautions and has a prominent awareness of the issue at hand. Further escalation is the companies perogotive, and they ARE taking initiative to deal with the issue directly. It is the responsibility of the parents to supervise underaged children while they browse the internet. It it the responsibility of the parents to know which sites are visited and the content the sites offer. If the content is not age appropriate, the parent has the responsibility to take whatever necessary precautions to block or censor the childs exposure. In the sad and tragic event of a child falling victim to a predator, the parent is negligable. Do you press charges against a shopping mall if a child left and is abducted while the parent is shopping for business casual for an important meeting at work? It seems like our society is trying to blame others to avoid added responsibility of the parents. Contemporary adults are more self-absorbed than past generations, maybe that is where legislation is needed?
Posted by myanderson (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How about both?
Just because something is a parent's responsibility does not necessarily mean that the government should be entirely indifferent to it. Government that represents voting parents should partner with them when and how they are directed to do so.

Arguably every facet of my daughters' well-being is my responsibility from their education to health to not being stabbed or propositioned or offered drugs on the way home from school. One of the things I love about my country is that my government helps me with all the above. While I accept my responsibility for contributing to my girls' well-being in all the ways described above, I'm not at all ashamed to say I need my government's help with them, hence we have police, public schools, etc., etc.

By the same token I see no reason why my representatives should not help me in the area described by the article. Granted, I don't want them to do it ham-handedly or with unacceptable negative impact, but I don't want them to make the mistake of thinking that just because the predation is initiated online that it is effectively any different from the kind that is initiated in person.
Posted by LoverOfLight (2 comments )
Link Flag
Parents Responsibility, NOT GOV'T!!!
Quite simply said without getting into major discussion points. Myspace, in respect to freedom of speech and other liberties granted to us as U.S. citizens, should not be forced to do anything. The company, in good will, has taken precautions and has a prominent awareness of the issue at hand. Further escalation is the companies perogotive, and they ARE taking initiative to deal with the issue directly. It is the responsibility of the parents to supervise underaged children while they browse the internet. It it the responsibility of the parents to know which sites are visited and the content the sites offer. If the content is not age appropriate, the parent has the responsibility to take whatever necessary precautions to block or censor the childs exposure. In the sad and tragic event of a child falling victim to a predator, the parent is negligable. Do you press charges against a shopping mall if a child left and is abducted while the parent is shopping for business casual for an important meeting at work? It seems like our society is trying to blame others to avoid added responsibility of the parents. Contemporary adults are more self-absorbed than past generations, maybe that is where legislation is needed?
Posted by myanderson (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How about both?
Just because something is a parent's responsibility does not necessarily mean that the government should be entirely indifferent to it. Government that represents voting parents should partner with them when and how they are directed to do so.

Arguably every facet of my daughters' well-being is my responsibility from their education to health to not being stabbed or propositioned or offered drugs on the way home from school. One of the things I love about my country is that my government helps me with all the above. While I accept my responsibility for contributing to my girls' well-being in all the ways described above, I'm not at all ashamed to say I need my government's help with them, hence we have police, public schools, etc., etc.

By the same token I see no reason why my representatives should not help me in the area described by the article. Granted, I don't want them to do it ham-handedly or with unacceptable negative impact, but I don't want them to make the mistake of thinking that just because the predation is initiated online that it is effectively any different from the kind that is initiated in person.
Posted by LoverOfLight (2 comments )
Link Flag
Can you say missed the boat?
What kind of tools do we have for elected officials these days. Why don't we just lock our kids in a padded room and keep them shot up with Thorazine all day?

Uhm, first off, all this is the PARENTS responsibility. What is a parents first and foremost job, to raise your kids so they can deal with and be prepared for the real world.

These retarded politicians come in wanting to sound all good in an election year, and don't know squat about what they are talking about.

And just for once, can we give the kids SOME credit? All these jackasses act like these kids are completely oblivious to the dangers of the world. Most are not. The ones that are, again, their parents have FAILED them.
Posted by bemenaker (438 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Can you say missed the boat?
What kind of tools do we have for elected officials these days. Why don't we just lock our kids in a padded room and keep them shot up with Thorazine all day?

Uhm, first off, all this is the PARENTS responsibility. What is a parents first and foremost job, to raise your kids so they can deal with and be prepared for the real world.

These retarded politicians come in wanting to sound all good in an election year, and don't know squat about what they are talking about.

And just for once, can we give the kids SOME credit? All these jackasses act like these kids are completely oblivious to the dangers of the world. Most are not. The ones that are, again, their parents have FAILED them.
Posted by bemenaker (438 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wrong way to go about it
Some of the proposal are completely ridiculous. Reducing this problem to its core the only people who will be able to do anything significant will be the parents. I personally would support a national child id program where a child would lose online privacy to their guardian (as in real life). The government should enforce some controls but it is ultimately up to the parent - freedom of speech is different for everyone, including children. Ultimately resources will be better spent in this way - actually allowing guardians to monitor and intefere if necessary in the online lives of their children. We are currently in a state where children can do anything online if they want - the government SHOULD get involved but should focus on restoring control to the parents not asking for impossible controls on children. Isn't marriage legal under age of 18 in some states with the permission of a guardian? Is it automatically illegal to talk about getting married to a child? Not if the guardians have given permission.

At this point this government is so out of touch with the people it is becoming ridiculous in some of it's efforts. I'd rather take "In God We Trust" over "In Politicians We Trust".
Posted by aosipov (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wrong way to go about it
Some of the proposal are completely ridiculous. Reducing this problem to its core the only people who will be able to do anything significant will be the parents. I personally would support a national child id program where a child would lose online privacy to their guardian (as in real life). The government should enforce some controls but it is ultimately up to the parent - freedom of speech is different for everyone, including children. Ultimately resources will be better spent in this way - actually allowing guardians to monitor and intefere if necessary in the online lives of their children. We are currently in a state where children can do anything online if they want - the government SHOULD get involved but should focus on restoring control to the parents not asking for impossible controls on children. Isn't marriage legal under age of 18 in some states with the permission of a guardian? Is it automatically illegal to talk about getting married to a child? Not if the guardians have given permission.

At this point this government is so out of touch with the people it is becoming ridiculous in some of it's efforts. I'd rather take "In God We Trust" over "In Politicians We Trust".
Posted by aosipov (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Where are we going?
Some of the proposal are completely ridiculous. Reducing this problem to its core the only people who will be able to do anything significant will be the parents. I personally would support a national child id program where a child would lose online privacy to their guardian (as in real life). The government should enforce some controls but it is ultimately up to the parent - freedom of speech is different for everyone, including children. Ultimately resources will be better spent in this way - actually allowing guardians to monitor and intefere if necessary in the online lives of their children. We are currently in a state where children can do anything online if they want - the government SHOULD get involved but should focus on restoring control to the parents not asking for impossible controls on children. Isn't marriage legal under age of 18 in some states with the permission of a guardian? Is it automatically illegal to talk about getting married to a child? Not if the guardians have given permission.

At this point this government is so out of touch with the people it is becoming ridiculous in some of it's efforts. I'd rather take "In God We Trust" over "In Politicians We Trust".
Posted by aosipov (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Where are we going?
Some of the proposal are completely ridiculous. Reducing this problem to its core the only people who will be able to do anything significant will be the parents. I personally would support a national child id program where a child would lose online privacy to their guardian (as in real life). The government should enforce some controls but it is ultimately up to the parent - freedom of speech is different for everyone, including children. Ultimately resources will be better spent in this way - actually allowing guardians to monitor and intefere if necessary in the online lives of their children. We are currently in a state where children can do anything online if they want - the government SHOULD get involved but should focus on restoring control to the parents not asking for impossible controls on children. Isn't marriage legal under age of 18 in some states with the permission of a guardian? Is it automatically illegal to talk about getting married to a child? Not if the guardians have given permission.

At this point this government is so out of touch with the people it is becoming ridiculous in some of it's efforts. I'd rather take "In God We Trust" over "In Politicians We Trust".
Posted by aosipov (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So we should stop promoting kids' creativity, expression, and ...
So we should ban kids from being able to go online and create their own web pages, stop them from writing blogs about how they feel - what has them upset - and who/what makes them happy, and strip them of a sense of community.

All to save one kid. "Just one kid."

Well I have news - It's not worth it to save 'just one kid.' Whatever happened to Habeus Corpus? We're 'locking people up' just to save them from doing wrong. Can we please stop stripping people of their rights and start embracing the new culture of things?

The world is changing - ideals are changing - and it seems like the old-heads in Washington are doing everything in their power to try and stop the change from going on.

Don't hate - participate.

I'd love to see MY local politicians on MySpace write blogs about what they're fighting for in city council, invite people to share comments about what changes they'd like to see in the city, or problems they know about.

And heaven forbid we give kids an outlet where they can express themselves. Not to mention possibly give parents a way to monitor what their teens are thinking. Blogs are the new diary. Log on - check your kids' new blog entries and find out what's going on in their lives. You might learn something useful yourself. Dare I say it - it might make you a better parent!
Posted by jdscardino (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So we should stop promoting kids' creativity, expression, and ...
So we should ban kids from being able to go online and create their own web pages, stop them from writing blogs about how they feel - what has them upset - and who/what makes them happy, and strip them of a sense of community.

All to save one kid. "Just one kid."

Well I have news - It's not worth it to save 'just one kid.' Whatever happened to Habeus Corpus? We're 'locking people up' just to save them from doing wrong. Can we please stop stripping people of their rights and start embracing the new culture of things?

The world is changing - ideals are changing - and it seems like the old-heads in Washington are doing everything in their power to try and stop the change from going on.

Don't hate - participate.

I'd love to see MY local politicians on MySpace write blogs about what they're fighting for in city council, invite people to share comments about what changes they'd like to see in the city, or problems they know about.

And heaven forbid we give kids an outlet where they can express themselves. Not to mention possibly give parents a way to monitor what their teens are thinking. Blogs are the new diary. Log on - check your kids' new blog entries and find out what's going on in their lives. You might learn something useful yourself. Dare I say it - it might make you a better parent!
Posted by jdscardino (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Crack down on this kind of "journalism"
MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Posted by (156 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Crack down on this kind of "journalism"
MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Posted by (156 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Your PC Is Under Attack
Gerard Rotonda,
Although the power of software downloads to take
control of PCs is well known, the technology has
unaccountably been ignored in debates over Internet
privacy and online regulation. Truste, the main online
privacy accreditation group in the United States, has
voluntarily certified some 2,000 Web sites as safe for
consumers and was initially assailed for refusing to
review software, but that criticism never led to any
action
Posted by gerard rotonda (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Your PC Is Under Attack
Gerard Rotonda,
Although the power of software downloads to take
control of PCs is well known, the technology has
unaccountably been ignored in debates over Internet
privacy and online regulation. Truste, the main online
privacy accreditation group in the United States, has
voluntarily certified some 2,000 Web sites as safe for
consumers and was initially assailed for refusing to
review software, but that criticism never led to any
action
Posted by gerard rotonda (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I think we are missing the point...
They say that the whole reason for this supposed crackdown is because they want to keep our children safe. Hey I have nothing against that, I have children of my own. But what are they trying to protect them from? Vulgarity? All they have to do is turn on their ipods or satelite radios. Nudity? Change the channel on your tv. Sexual Predators? Yeah, I think this is the one they are making a big deal about. Here's a novel idea: go after the SEXUAL PREDATORS not our children. Of course we should explain to the kids that they need to be cautious while using the internet, but they need to use the same amount of caution while in any public place (i.e. the mall). The internet is in essence no different than a place such as the mall. The only difference is its really big, and you can easily strike up a conversation with a complete stranger without the akwardness, and I highly doubt they are going to start "carding" people entering the malls. That's why we have jails, to keep those bad things away from us and our children, NOT to keep us away from those bad things. Am I the only one that this makes sense to?
Posted by deadlysporks (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I think we are missing the point...
They say that the whole reason for this supposed crackdown is because they want to keep our children safe. Hey I have nothing against that, I have children of my own. But what are they trying to protect them from? Vulgarity? All they have to do is turn on their ipods or satelite radios. Nudity? Change the channel on your tv. Sexual Predators? Yeah, I think this is the one they are making a big deal about. Here's a novel idea: go after the SEXUAL PREDATORS not our children. Of course we should explain to the kids that they need to be cautious while using the internet, but they need to use the same amount of caution while in any public place (i.e. the mall). The internet is in essence no different than a place such as the mall. The only difference is its really big, and you can easily strike up a conversation with a complete stranger without the akwardness, and I highly doubt they are going to start "carding" people entering the malls. That's why we have jails, to keep those bad things away from us and our children, NOT to keep us away from those bad things. Am I the only one that this makes sense to?
Posted by deadlysporks (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
All comments welcome
I dont know if i can post this
I have a site Social network
and would like to have comments on how to run
the site to safegaurd minors Parents should be sent an e-mail or letter or something to make the site aware of being used by minors
I have been working on a split site that has two
access pages one for minors and one for adults
according to age they can only see the area that
has been confirmed
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.nitenet.net/PHPizabi/" target="_newWindow">http://www.nitenet.net/PHPizabi/</a> my site example
only for viewing not advertising this site here
please send comments to webmaster@nitenet.net
Posted by leslieposey (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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