WASHINGTON – President Bush on Tuesday signed into law legislation to create a new kids-safe "dot-kids" domain on the Internet and to make car rides safer for children.
"Every site designated "dot-kids" will be a safe zone for children," Bush said in a small Roosevelt Room signing ceremony for the domain legislation. "We must give our nation's children every opportunity to grow in knowledge without undermining their character. ... We must give parents the peace of mind knowing their children are learning in safety."
Lawmakers acted after the death of Christina Long, a sixth-grader from Danbury, Conn., whom police say was strangled by a man she met in an Internet chat room.
The international body that governs domain names refused to create a suffix — like ".com" and ".org" — for child-appropriate content. So the new ".kids.us" domain will be overseen by the federal government. Participation will be voluntary in an attempt to avoid charges of censorship.
Parents will be able to restrict their child's computer so it could only visit "dot-kids" addresses. An independent board will set criteria, with the new domain containing only material appropriate for children under 13.
In a separate event, the president signed a bill requiring shoulder belts in addition to lap straps in the middle rear seats of vehicles.
Automakers say they have already begun to install lap and shoulder belts in the middle seat, considered the safest for children in an auto accident. Up to now, only a lap belt has been required for the middle seat.
The measure has been dubbed "Anton's Law" in memory of Anton Skeen, a four-year-old who was killed in a car crash in Washington state.
Bush also was signing a measure allowing $2.3 billion over the next four years for rebuilding Afghanistan. The bill provides another $1 billion to expand peacekeeping forces outside the capital city of Kabul, where they have been limited so far, though Congress still would have to approve the spending.
In the early evening, Bush was lighting a menorah in honor of Hanukkah, one of many events scheduled for this week to kick off the holiday season at the White House. The Jewish holiday, which began Friday, celebrates the Festival of Lights.