Keep our children safe from online predators, cyber bullies, and explicit content.
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Many individuals and groups have tried to propose or pass legislation to combat the sexual exploitation of children/minors online. All of these have failed or proved infeasible for the most part due to one reason. The reason being, it is impossible to determine who is and who is not a minor or a sexual predator. There is absolutely no way to put the proper controls in place if you can’t identify the individuals you’re trying to block.
WE DEMAND a law be enacted requiring every social media website, app, gaming network, etc. to be held accountable for determining the correct age and identity of any individual signing up to utilize their services. This information would not be disclosed publicly, but shall be used to:
1. Determine eligibility on whether or not they are able to use the service at all.
2. Determine which parts of the service the user is allowed to access. (For example, posting status updates but no access to live streaming.)
3. For all minors, monitoring tools should be offered to parents or guardians. (For example, any text message, public or private can be viewed in the parent or guardians account.)
Every day children are cyber bullied, sexually preyed upon and murdered due to internet or social media encounters. When these tragedies occur the public is outraged and demands to know “Where were their parents?” or “Why didn’t the police do more?” Blame is immediately placed on bad parenting or a lack of parental control. This blame is misplaced as NO parent ever woke up and said “I want my child to die today.” In reality, most parents aren’t aware of the various ways children hide social media accounts and messages. An entire generation of kids are learning the harsh realities of the world in ways we never dreamed of. The instant access to violence, porn, and hate is all at their fingertips, but this access goes both ways. Pedophiles and those who mean to do our children harm seek them out online. The problem lies with the lack of accountability from the companies who create social media platforms. They specifically target our children and expose them to the online world without any restrictions to inappropriate or explicit content. Any existing tools currently in place are easily bypassed. These companies create platforms not requiring identity verification, and, on top of that, they promote disappearing videos and messages, making it next to impossible for concerned parents to adequately monitor their children online.
Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, prevents website operators and owners of networks such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat, PlayStation or Xbox from collecting personal information from children under the age of 13 without parental consent. To avoid being fined for collecting such data, these companies create an unenforceable age restriction, relying on users to disclose their information. Children are flocking online creating accounts simply by lying about their age. Willful ignorance by these companies has created an unmonitored playground for sexual predators and cyber bullies alike.
Additionally, activities of children age 13 to 17 are not restricted by content and they are only a few clicks away from videos they should not be viewing, and interacting with people they do not know. When a child turns 13, it is not some magical age they should be given unlimited and unmonitored access to anything and everything their heart desires. They are STILL MINORS and need our protection.
A simple age/identity verification tool would prevent children from creating accounts without their parents’ knowledge, prevent predators from creating false profiles, and prevent minors from accessing, exchanging, or distributing explicit content. This would in turn lead to the following:
*Decreased number of online sexual predators and sex trafficking online
*Decreased minor involvement in drug production and use
*Decreased child and teen suicide rate
*Decreased cyber bullying
*Decreased access to explicit content including illegal guns and drug use
You have to prove your age to get a bank account; You have to prove your age to get a driver’s license; You have to prove your age to purchase alcohol/tobacco/lottery tickets. Why is it so difficult for these companies to require verification of age and identity to sign up for their site? How are we allowing companies to make billions of dollars off the backs of our children, when it is literally killing them?
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