For Immediate Release
January 14, 2008
Attorney General Kelly A. Ayotte today announced that MySpace has agreed to significant steps to better protect children on its Web site, including creation of a broad-based task force to explore and develop age and identity verification technology. MySpace has been working with and discussing the safety of its site with the National Association of Attorneys General Social Networking Sites Executive Committee. Attorney General Kelly Ayotte is a member of the Executive Committee who led these discussions on behalf of the attorneys general. Fifty Attorneys General have signed onto this agreement.
MySpace acknowledged in the agreement the important role of technology in social networking safety and agreed to find and develop online identity authentication tools. The attorneys general have pushed for age and identity verification. 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. Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, commented "Age and identity verification are critical tools which should be implemented on social networking sites to protect children from sexual predators and exposure to inappropriate material. I am pleased that MySpace has made a commitment to lead an Internet Safety Technical Task Force, composed of industry leaders and experts, to develop these tools."
Other specific changes and policies that MySpace agreed to develop include: allowing parents to submit their children's e-mail addresses so MySpace can prevent anyone using those e-mails from setting up profiles, making the default setting "private" for profiles of 16- and 17-year-olds, committing to responding within 72 hours to inappropriate content complaints and dedicating more staff and/or resources to review and classify photographs and discussion groups in order to separate adult material.
MySpace also will hire a contractor to compile a registry of e-mail addresses provided by parents who want to restrict their child's access to the site. MySpace will bar anyone using a submitted e-mail addresses from signing in or creating a profile.
MySpace also agreed to:
The states pushed MySpace for changes after sexual predators repeatedly used the site to victimize children. In July, MySpace identified and expelled 29,000 sex offenders from its site. In response to a request from the Attorney General's Office, MySpace identified 153 New Hampshire sex offenders who had been expelled from the site. Those offenders were reviewed by the Department of Corrections Office of Probation and Parole to ensure they were not violating the terms of their parole. MySpace continues to work to identify and expel offenders from its site.
Attorney General Ayotte commented, "Unfortunately, sexual predators continue to use the internet and flock to sites used by children, including social networking sites. I am pleased that MySpace is taking this threat seriously through the commitments it has made in this agreement. However, it is only through a combination of technology, education and tough enforcement that we will stop these criminals from preying on our children." Attorney General Ayotte has supported internet safety education efforts, in conjunction with the Commissioner of Education Lionel Tracy, by distributing over 100,000 copies of an Internet Safety Guide for Parents and Teens to middle and high school students throughout the State. She also continues to give talks about internet safety to kids and parents throughout the State. In addition, she and Governor John Lynch are pushing for a revision to New Hampshire's laws on internet safety to increase the penalties for these crimes.
The Joint Statement on Key Principles of Social Networking Safety issued today by the Attorneys General and MySpace recognizes that an ongoing industry effort is required to keep pace with the latest technological developments and develop additional ways to protect teens, including online identity authentication tools.
The agreement announced today culminates nearly two years of discussions between MySpace and the attorneys general. Attorney General Ayotte is a member of the executive committee who led this effort, whose members also include the North Carolina and Connecticut Attorneys General, co-chairs of the committee, and the Attorneys General of Connecticut, North Carolina, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
"The safety of all children who use the internet is paramount. As social networking sites become more popular with NH's children, it is incumbent on all of these sites to do all they can to ensure the safety of the children who visit their sites. The steps MySpace is taking are important to creating a safer online environment." Attorney General Ayotte said.
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. Attorney General Ayotte stated, "We will continue to remain vigilant in working with MySpace and other social networking sites to ensure that this agreement leads to changes throughout the industry."
Adobe Acrobat Reader format. You can download a free reader from Adobe.
New Hampshire Department of Justice | 33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301