May 23, 2008

Crapo Lauds Passage Of Online Safety Measures For Children

Bill, Resolution pass Senate by Unanimous Consent

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Two measures, co-sponsored by Senator Mike Crapo, that increase safeguards for children using the Internet passed the Senate this week by unanimous consent. "The KIDS Act, combined with the declaration of June as Internet Safety Month sends a strong message that Congress takes very seriously the devastating crime of Internet predation of our children," said Crapo. "Statistics and firsthand accounts of children and law enforcement reveal very frightening data on the pervasiveness of online sexual predation. Pedophiles operate more than 10,000 websites, and hundreds more are created monthly - chilling when you consider that 35 million children from kindergarten to grade 12 have Internet access. This is an international issue rendering national and state boundary lines irrelevant. While the Internet serves as an effective information tool, parents absolutely must be aware of their children's online behavior and habits as well as those with whom their children communicate."

S. 431, the Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators (KIDS) Act, requires the registration of email and instant messaging addresses of sex offenders on a sex offender's profile on the National Sex Offender Registry. Failure to register such identifiers will be punishable by a fine or imprisonment. The KIDS Act also requires the U.S. Department of Justice to maintain a system allowing commercial social networking website companies to compare identifiers of registered or potential users of those sites to a list of identifiers of registered sex offenders. The companies would be immune from civil liability if they used this system. The bill also makes it a federal crime for anyone who is at least 18 years old to misrepresent their age when communicating over the Internet with the intent to engage in or facilitate criminal sexual contact with a minor.

The Senate also declared June as "Internet Safety Month." S. Res. 567, calls for increased awareness about threats posed by the Internet. The resolution encourages safe and responsible Internet usage and urges law enforcement, parents, educators, community leaders and volunteers to continue their strong efforts in this area and offer updated and improved prevention and awareness training.

Statistics show that 31 percent of children who use the Internet have the skill to circumvent Internet filtering software. Sixty-one percent of students admit to using the Internet unsafely or inappropriately, and 20 percent of middle and high school students have met face-to-face with someone they first met online. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, approximately one in seven youth online (10 to 17-years-old) received a sexual solicitation or approach over the Internet; 34 percent had an unwanted exposure to sexual material; and, only 27 percent of the youth who encountered unwanted sexual material told a parent or guardian. If the encounter was defined as distressing - episodes that made them feel very or extremely upset or afraid - 42 percent told a parent or guardian. Thirty-six percent of "dual offenders," defined as those who had both sexually victimized children and were in possession of child pornography, sent child pornography to law enforcement posing as children online.

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