Bill Would Deny Kids Access To Social Networks In Libraries

Aimed at online predators

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U.S. lawmakers are considering a bill that would prohibit children from accessing social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace in public libraries in order to protect them from sexual predators.

Rep. Mark Steven Kirk, R-Illinois, who sponsored the bill, says the measure would prevent sexual predators from communicating with minors who are using a library computer. Children would be allowed to access social networking sites with parental permission.

The American Library Association is critical of Kirk’s bill and views it as the federal government overstepping its bounds to interfere with library users privacy and free speech.

"If people in a community do not feel confident that their privacy will be protected, they cannot use the library as it was intended, for intellectual pursuit," Emily Sheketoff, who heads the association’s Washington office told Gannet. "It will intimidate them."

Kirk’s bill, the Deleting Online Predators Act, stalled in 2006 but was revived this year.

Kirk says with a growing number of children visiting social networking sites, more online sexual predators are targeting children.

The American Library Association says the legislation takes the wrong approach to keeping kids safe from online predators. It says instead of banning sites, parents and kids need to be educated on how to deal with online threats anywhere they can access the Internet and not just at libraries.

Bill Would Deny Kids Access To Social Networks In Libraries
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