HARTFORD, Conn. – Connecticut lawmakers unveiled legislation Wednesday that would require MySpace.com and other social-networking sites to verify users' ages and obtain parental consent before minors can post profiles.
The bill comes a day after a man was sentenced to 14 years in prison for using MySpace.com to set up a sexual encounter with an 11-year-old Connecticut girl. It was one of the first federal sex cases involving the popular site.
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who met with other attorneys general on Tuesday, said 10 to 20 other states are considering similar legislation.
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"The technology is available. The solution is financially feasible, practically doable," he said. "If we can put a man on the moon, we can check ages of people on these Web sites."
Under the proposal, any networking site that fails to verify ages and obtain parental permission of users under 18 would face civil fines up to $5,000 per violation.
Sites would have to check information about parents to make sure it is legitimate. Parents would be contacted directly when necessary.
MySpace did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
The bill, which is scheduled for a public hearing on Thursday, would apply to any organized online networking organization, including chat rooms.
Parents, school administrators and law-enforcement authorities have been increasingly warning of online predators at sites like MySpace, whose youth-oriented visitors are encouraged to expand their circles of friends through messaging tools and personal profile pages. It has more than 100 million registered users.
The site has responded by expanding educational efforts and partnerships with law enforcement. It also adopted new restrictions on how adults may contact the site's younger users and has helped design tools for identifying profiles created by convicted sex offenders.
The site's current policy bars children under 14 from setting up profiles. Users who 14 or 15 can display their full profiles — containing hobbies, schools and any other personal details — only to people already on the teen's list of friends. Others see only the bare-bones profile, listing username, gender, age and location.
But MySpace relies on users to specify their age.
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