Politicians continue to point fingers at MySpace in their never-ending quest to protect the children, and now some Connecticut lawmakers have introduced legislation that would force it and other social-networking sites to verify users' ages and get parents' permission before letting minors post profiles online. The initiative is led by the state's attorney general, who describes the efforts with this wonderful quote: "If we can put a man on the moon, we can check ages of people on these Web sites." and says 10 to 20 other states are considering similar laws. The AG says that the state has the authority to enforce the law because ads posted on MySpace and other sites are viewed in the state. That's a pretty questionable assertion, since it would give the state authority over any site on the internet with ads. The bigger problem, though, is that not only is the law unreasonable, but it also just simply won't work. Kids will, inevitably, find a way around the block (such as, oh, just shooting from the hip here, lying about their age), and even if the system did work, it's not particularly clear how it will stop the problem of internet predators at all. That's the problem with all of these sorts of things politicians come up with -- all they create is the illusion of meaningful activity without doing anything to help the underlying problem. Should the law pass, it will be interesting to see how MySpace and its corporate parent, News Corp., respond. MySpace has been making efforts to appease politicians by working with them and instituting some changes on its own, but it's unlikely it would just sit back and swallow this sort of law. The typical response might be for a site to move offshore, but News Corp. probably wouldn't want to take that step, while the Connecticut AG would probably see his assertion of jurisdiction over the internet extend out there as well. Using his logic, if we can put a man on the moon, can't we find a way to stamp out stupid politicians?
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