Law Enforcement Calls on MySpace to Protect Children

Michael Hayes
HARTFORD, Conn. – Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has sent a letter asking the company to take steps to make the site safer for children.

The social networking site has become a popular meeting place for a diverse group of users, ranging from singles, to musicians to porn stars. While that mix often entices users to join, it also raises alarms for law enforcement concerned with keeping children safe online.

“This site now exposes young people to a perilous cyber environment with people posting sexually explicit materials and looking for sexual relationships,” Blumenthal said in a letter to MySpace. “Children can still view pornographic images, links to X-rated websites and webcam sex for sale offers.”

While Blumenthal called discussion with MySpace “encouraging,” he felt the need to send the letter, writing “These measures are technologically feasible, as well as consistent with your stated terms of service and your own explicit goal of prohibiting nudity and other offensive or inappropriate material from your website.”

Among Blumenthal’s requests:

  • MySpace should provide free software that allows parents to block the site.
  • MySpace should raise the minimum age for a user from 14 to 16.
  • Require users to login and verify that they are over 18.
  • Add staff and technology to filter and remove pornography.
  • Ban users who repeatedly post “deep links” to pornography.
  • Hire an independent “watchdog” that will report to the MySpace board on inappropriate material and sexual predators.
  • Make technical changes that will prevent minors from making their pages public.
  • MySpace is home to the profiles of many adult performers, marketing and advertising executives and industry fans.

    The company, which is owned by News Corp., did not returns calls from XBiz.