January 14, 2008
Jefferson City, Mo. — Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon and Attorneys General representing 48 other states and the District of Columbia today announced that the social network MySpace has agreed to take significant steps on its Web site to protect young children and teenagers from online predators. Nixon said the safeguards are a result of nearly two years of work by the Attorneys General with MySpace and will set the standard for other online social networking sites.
“I am encouraged that MySpace has already implemented several recommendations from Attorneys General and other online safety advocates,” Nixon said. “Today we are laying out additional steps that MySpace will take, including the creation of a broad-based task force to explore and develop age and identity verification technology. It is important to remember, however, that the most effective tools in protecting children from dangers online are parents who are actively involved in monitoring and talking to their children about their online activities.”
Nixon and other Attorneys General advocate age and identity verification, calling it vital to better protect children using social networking sites from online sexual predators and inappropriate material. The states pushed MySpace for changes after sexual predators repeatedly used the site to victimize children.
Under the agreement, MySpace, with support from the Attorneys General, will create and lead an Internet Safety Technical Task Force to explore and develop age and identity verification tools for social networking Web sites. MySpace will invite other social networking sites, age and identification verification experts, child protection groups and technology companies to participate in the task force. The task force will report back to the Attorneys General every three months and issue a formal report with findings and recommendations at the end of 2008.
MySpace has also agreed to develop other specific changes and policies, including:
MySpace and the Attorneys General today also issued a joint statement on key principles of social networking safety. The statement recognizes that an ongoing effort by the online social networking industry is required both to keep pace with the latest technological developments and to develop additional ways to protect teens, including online identity authentication tools. Those principles fall into four categories:
Nixon’s work with MySpace has already resulted in his office turning over to the Missouri State Highway Patrol the names of 688 individuals whose MySpace profiles matched those of registered Missouri sex offenders. The Attorney General has asked the Patrol to examine the data to look for parole violations by offenders who may be barred from using a computer or contacting minors.