House Passes Deleting Online Predator Bill
Today a bill to prevent online predators from reaching children at schools and libraries, co-sponsored by U.S. Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL-13), passed the House by a vote of 410-15.
"This legislation gives parents some comfort that their children won't fall prey to child predators while using the Internet at schools and libraries that receive federal dollars for Internet services," said Biggert.
The Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006, H.R. 5319, requires schools and libraries to use existing technology to prohibit children from accessing chat rooms and social networking Web sites such as MySpace.com on school and library computers.
Social networking sites allow users to post personal profiles that often contain photographs, addresses, hobbies and other personal information on the Internet for public access. The anonymity of the Internet allows pedophiles to use social networking sites as a "hunting ground" for potential victims.
The legislation also includes provisions requiring:
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to create a Web site and issue consumer alerts to educate parents, teachers, school administrators and others regarding the dangers of the Internet to children.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish an advisory board to review and report, to the FCC, commercial social networking Web sites and chat rooms that have been shown to allow sexual predators easy access to personal information of, and contact with, children.
On July 17, Biggert and U.S. Representative Mark Kirk (R-IL-10) hosted a field hearing about MySpace.com and other social networking Web sites. They listened to testimony from Chicago area law enforcement and school officials, including from Rich Wistocki, a cyber crimes investigator with the Naperville Police Department. Between his direct caseload and other cases involving the Attorney General's office, Wistocki handled approximately 25 cases involving social networking Web sites within this past year.
"Predators are online when the kids are online -- late at night when parents are sleeping, Saturdays, Sundays and school holidays. It is my mission to teach parents as well as law enforcement officers to be better parents and well rounded officers in this ever changing technological world," said Wistocki at the hearing.
In addition to the field hearing, Biggert will host two forums in August for parents on what precautions they can take to keep their children safe from Internet predators. The Naperville forum will be held at the Naperville Municipal Center from 6:30-8 p.m. on August 9th. Another forum in Orland Park will be held at the Carl Sandberg High School from 6:30-8 p.m. on August 29.