Senators Want Porn Site Owners To Clean Up Home Pages, Label Content - InformationWeek

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4/13/2007
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Senators Want Porn Site Owners To Clean Up Home Pages, Label Content

A new bill is latest in a long string of attempts by federal lawmakers to pass protections that would help protect minors from obscenity and pornography.

In what seems to be a never-ending legislative battle to somehow manage material on the Internet and protect minors from online obscenity, two U.S. Senators have proposed legislation that would require Web site operators to label certain material.

U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, an Arkansas Democrat, and U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, introduced the Cyber Safety for Kids Act of 2007, which would require Web site operators to label pages containing material that could be harmful to children.

The legislation, announced Thursday, is the latest in a long string of attempts by federal lawmakers to pass protections that would help protect minors from obscenity and pornography.

The bill would require Web site owners to notify the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and provide information about the site if it contains adult content. It would also have the U.S. Department of Commerce ensure that adult sites shave secure log-ins, age identification requirements, clean home pages and the ability to be blocked by filtering technology. If the bill passes, the National Telecommunications & Information Administration would be able to fine non-compliant sites.

Pryor issued a statement estimating that there were more than 400 million adult Web pages in 2005, supporting a $12 billion per year industry.

"Many of these sites aggressively target children as their audience, such as the 56-year-old Web site owner who made $1 million misspelling domain names like Disneyland, Teletubbies and Britney Spears," Pryor explained in the statement. "Owners of the site paid 10 to 25 cents for every hit he generated on their sites."

Pryor also cited a Kaiser Family Foundation study that found 90% of kids aged 8 to 16 have viewed pornography online, many while doing homework.

"The solution is complex, but this bill offers a major step forward," he said.

The courts have repeatedly struck down federal lawmakers' attempts to control online pornography. In the latest ruling, a judge declared the Child Online Protection Act both too broad and too narrow.

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