Local News

Senate Panel Forwards MySpace Bill Despite Industry Concerns

Posted May 15, 2007 12:35 p.m. EDT
Updated May 15, 2007 5:21 p.m. EDT

— A Senate committee approved a bill Tuesday that would require children in North Carolina to get their parents' permission before they create a profile on social networking sites.

The bill has the support of state Attorney General Roy Cooper and of Web companies, including the parent company of MySpace.

Web security consultants warned, however, that the bill would make the Internet more dangerous by creating wolves in sheep's clothing on the sites.

Jeff Schmidt, a security expert based in Ohio, said there is no way to verify the age of a minor online. He said that means predators would be able to create fake profiles as minors and then grant themselves parental permission.

The state Attorney General's Office said it is not trying to verify the age of minors, but wants assurances that a minor cannot use a social-networking Web site without the company's seeking parental consent.

Supporters say it is important to enact some form of protection now and then try to perfect it.

Cooper applauded the Senate Judiciary Committee's decision, calling the law "another important step in our fight against child predators who are using the Internet and social networking sites to try to hurt our children."

Along with attorney generals from seven other states, Cooper is asking MySpace to turn over names of registered sex offenders by May 29 and detail what it has done to protect users and delete sex offender profiles.

In December, MySpace announced it was partnering with Sentinel Tech Holding Corp. to build a database with information on sex offenders in the United States. Software to identify and remove sex offenders from the site was launched in early May, the company said Monday.