Senators Pryor, Baucus Introduce New Online Child Protection Bill

Tod Hunter
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) introduced the Cyber Safety For Kids Act which, they said, would help protect children from online pornography by enabling parents, schools, libraries, and others to set Internet browsers to prevent children from viewing websites that contain adult material.

The bill, brought up at a Capitol Hill press conference Wednesday, would require adult Web site operators to include a flag in each of their sites which would make it easier for filtering software to block adult material. Also, the legislation would require websites with adult material to have "clean homepages" and to have visitors verify their age when they log on.

"Bottom line, we want to keep our kids safe when they're on the Internet," Baucus said. "Parents and teachers shouldn't worry about their kids when they're on the computer at home or in the classroom. This bill will help keep kids safe and give parents peace of mind."

"I wish the solution to protecting kids on the Internet was as easy as shutting every one of these sites down, but it's not," Pryor said. "However, government can and should be a better partner to parents by providing basic protections. This legislation helps meet that goal and gives parents and teachers peace of mind."

According to Sen. Baucus' office, if the law is enacted, it would also require the Commerce Department to develop an electronic tag for websites with sexually explicit adult material, and would require those Web sites to use electronic tags when registering or renewing registration. This would enable parents, teachers, librarians and others to block such sites using the tags.

The Department of Commerce could issue civil penalties to websites with adult material if they fail to follow the guidelines in the law.

All this would have to be accomplished within 90 days of the bill being signed into law.

Baucus said that the legislation has support from parents, teachers and others who want to protect children from adult material on the Internet.

"The statistics are staggering already, but if we sit back and do nothing to protect kids on the Internet the problem will only escalate," Pryor said. "I stand with Arkansas's teachers and parents who want their children to expand their horizons through the Internet without running into indecent material. The solution is complex, but this bill offers a major step forward."

The bill will go to the Senate Commerce Committee before going to the full Senate for its consideration.