New Senate Bill Beefs Up Online Security at Schools

WASHINGTON – In the latest attempt to crack down on online predators, Alaska Senator Ted Stevens introduced a bill on Aug. 2 that would require schools to educate their students about the dangers of Internet communication.

The Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act says that schools receiving telecommunications discounts must teach their students about appropriate online behavior, including social interactions. If passed, the bill would give the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) $5 million to conduct a nationwide public-awareness campaign on safe Internet use. It would also create an Online Safety and Technology Group composed of experts in technology, public safety and other fields. Duties would include promoting parental-control technologies and keeping closer tabs on child pornography.

Furthermore, it would triple the fines for Internet service providers that fail to report child pornography.

Last year, the House passed the much broader Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) by a vote of 410-15. The bill did not reach a vote in the Senate. If passed, it would have required schools to block access to any site allowing students to create Web sites or profiles and communicate with other online users.

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