Attorney General Jack Conway recently announced that the attorneys general of 49 states and the District of Columbia have reached an agreement with Facebook to better protect children from predators and inappropriate content.
“I have been encouraging Facebook to get on board and follow MySpace’s lead in protecting children who visit these sites from adults who are trying to prey on their vulnerability and innocence,” Attorney General Conway said. “I am gratified that we’re moving forward with this agreement in an effort to protect Kentucky kids.”
The agreement is similar to the one that MySpace reached in January with 49 states and the District of Columbia. MySpace agreed to head a task force, which Facebook has joined, to explore and develop age and identity-identification tools for social-networking sites.
Changes agreed to by Facebook include providing automatic warning messages when a child is in danger of giving personal information to an unknown adult; restricting the ability of users to change their listed ages; acting more aggressively to remove inappropriate content and groups from the site; and requiring third-party vendors to adhere to Facebook’s safety and privacy guidelines.
Under the changes, the first time a Facebook user wants to change his or her age, Web site staff will review the profile to determine whether the change is appropriate. In addition, companies offering Facebook users services, called widgets, will now have to implement and enforce Facebook’s safety and privacy guidelines.
Facebook also has agreed to maintain a list of pornographic Web sites and regularly sever any links to such sites. It will remove groups for incest, pedophilia, cyberbullying and other violations of the site’s terms of services, as well as expel from the site individual violators of those terms.
Cybersafety in Kentucky
Cybersafety is one of Conway’s top priorities. He has conducted workshops in high schools and middle schools across the state to warn children and parents about the dangers that may be lurking online and how to safely surf the Internet.
He also drafted HB 367, a comprehensive piece of legislation that brought Kentucky statutes up to date with changes in technology. The legislation unanimously passed in the House before it stalled in the Senate on the final day of the legislative session.
“It is disappointing that this piece of legislation, which was supported by parents, prosecutors and law-enforcement officers across the state, did not get a vote in front of the full Senate,” Conway said. “I hope Kentuckians will join me in calling for lawmakers to pass comprehensive cybersafety legislation during the next session.”
If enacted, HB 367 would have:
- Prohibited registered sex offenders from using social-networking Web sites that are frequented by minors, like MySpace and Facebook;
- Required that sex offenders update their e-mail addresses and online identifiers with the registry;
- Created a searchable database of registered sex offender e-mail addresses;
- Amended Kentucky’s stalking statute to include cyberstalking;
- Clarified that it is a crime for a person to transmit live sexually explicit images of themselves to minors over the Internet; and
- Allowed prosecutors and police to seize personal property, such as a computer or car, that had been used in the commission of online sexual offenses against children.
In addition to the cybersafety legislation, Attorney General Conway has pledged to create an Internet Crimes Unit that will soon be operational. The group will investigate crimes committed online, from scams to solicitation of minors.
For more information about cybersafety, visit www.ag.ky.gov.