In January 2007, McCain (and Schumer) introduced S.431, a modified, stand alone proposal that was included in McCain's S.4089 from late last year. With the recent attention surrounding MySpace, sex offenders and subpeonas, it's worth noting McCain's involvement in the commotion.
The bill, designed by McCain, but embraced by several Dems, is a Trojan Horse which trades child safety for Murdoch dollars, legalizes state sanctioned censorship, interferes with a task force of state Attorneys General, addresses less than 10% of the problem, and has the stench of a quid pro quo arrangement.
The genesis of the bill came from MySpace in self-defense of state and Congressional criticism/findings that the design of the site allowed minors to access adult material/communications, and predators to access minors. MySpace solicited McCain to cockblock the posse of state AGs, then assisted McCain in drafting legislation favorable to MySpace's business interests, which implicated First Amendment principles. In return, McCain was rewarded with a fund raising platform.
News Corp. is a multi-billion dollar media conglomerate, headquartered in New York and controlled by Murdoch and family. Murdoch is a shrewd business man, adept at pimping out both parties.
Fox Interactive Media
In January, 2005, Murdoch tapped Ross Levinsohn to lead News Corp.s second wave into the Net, along with 2 billion in seed money. On Levinsohn's call, Murdoch bought Intermix Media, majority holder of MySpace, in July, 2005. MySpace became the driving force in an agressive strategy to market and monetize the Internet, and was folded into Fox Interactive Media, headquartered in California.
But MySpace was sold 'as is'. In a February 2, 2006 press release, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (Blumenthal) stated:
"My office has received numerous complaints over the last month that minors can easily post and view inappropriate and sexually suggestive material on Myspace.com, possibly in violation of state law.
"My office investigated and confirmed that children can readily view not only inappropriate material, but also obscene images through the site's free and publicly accessible areas. The site posts no warnings that pornography and adult content are present and has no mechanism to prevent minors from viewing obscene material.
Not long after, stories surfaced of predators trolling MySpace for victims. From a February 17, 2006 WSJ Online article:
News Corp. is scrambling to make MySpace a safer place for young people. News Corp. plans to appoint a "safety czar" to oversee the site...MySpace users post sexually explicit photos and list activities such as "swinging" and "spanking" among their interests....Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said earlier this month that his office is investigating whether MySpace is doing enough to protect children from being contacted by predators and from viewing pornography....MySpace used to block access to those who said they were under the age of 16. But so many lied about their ages that MySpace lowered the age limit to 14.
From a March 20, 2006 letter from Blumenthal to MySpace counsel:
Ban anyone under 16 from MySpace. If 14 and 15 year olds have access to any site, it should be separate and distinct. This new possible website should also ban children under the age of 14....Any access to adult content should be vigorously restricted to individuals 18 or older....Delete explicit reference to swingers as a browse term and groups or clubs identified as swingers or people seeking sex....Fully disclose in clear and conspicuous terms that MySpace contains explicit sexual content and users seeking sexual encounters, and prior use of the site by sexual predators to target minors....This site now exposes young people to a perilous cyber environment with people posting sexually explicit materials and looking for sexual relationships. In fact, children can still view pornographic images, links to X-rated websites, "clubs" involving adults seeking sexual encounters, and webcam sex for sale offers.
At this point Blumenthal and his investigators had documented , and provided to MySpace, evidence that MySpace was knowingly involved in the dissemination of harmful, indecent and obscene material to minors. It's arguable whether Federal or California law was violated. But the following sections of the New York penal code; 235.20-235.24 appear to have been violated. A violation of section 235.22 triggers sex offender registration under section 168-a of the COR code.
From an April 11, 2006 News Corp. press release announcing Hemanshu Nigam as the MySpace safety czar:
...currently serves as Director of Consumer Security Outreach & Child Safe Computing at the Microsoft Corporation....in his prior role, he was a trial attorney in the United States Department of Justice, Criminal Division, in Washington, D.C. where he specialized in child pornography, child predator and child trafficking and computer crime cases nationwide....He was also the law enforcement liaison to ISPs and filtering technology companies on child online protection issues.
IMO there is no such thing as an ex-prosecutor. It's a unique mind set that carries over to the private sector, as we'll see.
From an April 23, 2006 New York Times article:
"We have some very agressive goals on how to build this thing into a real contributor to News Corp. financially," Mr. Levinsohn said last month....And he sees a chance for MySpace to rival eBay and Craigslist as a place where nearly anything is bought and sold....the site is very open to frank discussion, provocative images and links to all sorts of activities....Nor does it object to Jenna Jameson, the pornographic film star, maintaining a profile with links to her hard-core Web site....and their primary response to parents' concerns is a campaign to educate users about safe surfing techniques.
From a May 3, 2006 Blumenthal press release:
...no website should allow children to have access to sexually explicit photographs or allow them to mix with adults seeking sexual encounters -as still happens on MySpace.
On June 19, 2006, Jane Doe filed suit on behalf of her daughter, Julie Doe, accusing MySpace and News Corp. of fraud and negligence leading to the sexual assault of Julie. The petition details a number of accused predators, one of which was a registered sex offender, as well as the state AG task force correspondence with MySpace. A copy was entered as an exhibit for the June 28 House hearing described below.
On June 28, 2006, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a second day of hearings, titled, "Making The Internet Safe For Kids: The Role of ISP's and Social Networking Sites", #109-123 (the pdf is over 400 pgs., so you have the option of text or pdf).
Witnesses included Blumenthal and Michael Angus, General Counsel of Fox Interactive Media, who was on the hot seat for most of the hearing, and who, for the first time, in self defense, stated:
Mr. Walden. ...And that is why we are probing so hard here, I think, is that what you are telling me is, Mr. Angus, you can't tell a 14-year old from a 40-year old.
Mr. Angus....One of the things that we have been discussing internally is whether it would be possible to create a national registry of email addresses for convicted sex offenders and whether that is something that could be maintained as a database against which we could check registrants and screen them out from the service entirely.
Mr. Walden....nothing stops them from going to a free service and just getting a different email account.
Mr. Angus. Well, if we criminalize that, then there are ramifications. (pg.284 or 288 in pdf window)
At this point there had been no testimony or evidence offered in support that RSOs had infected MySpace and were the root cause of the numerous sexual assaults.
From a July 11, 2006, CNNMoney article:
Levinsohn's plan is to make MySpace the hub of a behavioral-marketing approach supported by all of Fox's other weapons--its massive amount of content and its constellation of other Web properties.
News Corp. press release dated August 7, 2006, announcing $900 million deal with Google:
The agreement calls for Google to power web, vertical and site specific search for MySpace....Under the terms of the agreement, Google will be obligated to make guaranteed minimum revenue share payments to Fox Interactive Media of $900 million based on Fox achieving certain traffic and other commitments.
Murdoch discussing FIM's growth just after the deal:
In the space of just one year we've catapulted ourselves into a leadership position. Much of our success, of course, comes from MySpace....The deal with Google, which we are guaranteed $900 million in payments across the next four years, is strong testament to our ability to monetize our vast and growing web presence....we're continuing to develop new ways of raising our community of MySpace users. We're also hard at work developing a new set of co-gen tools to track price and sell advertising, having quadrupled the MySpace sales team to 55 people this year. We are offering advertisers a new platform to reach consumers in intimate ways and have established working relationships now with 80 of the top 100 brand advertisers. We expect to launch MySpace into nine countries over the next year, having seen the success of our launches in Britian and Australia.
On September 19, 2006, McCain chaired a hearing on Online Child Pornography. An official GPO transcript does not appear to be availble, but an unofficial one can be found thru Lexis-Nexis Academic. A previous diary of mine detailed how to access L-N Academic for free.
It was a scripted hearing, judging by its length, witnesses, off-topic diversions, repetition of misleading and discredited info and statistics, and domination by McCain. There was no discussion concerning registered sex offenders.
In short, the hearing was designed to provide testimonial support for McCain's S.4089. In turn, that bill was designed, in part, to support McCain's run for the presidency. Exploiting internet exploitation for political gain.
In mid-October, 2006, Wired announced it used a code to find over 700 RSO profiles on MySpace, alleging 11% of them had warning signs.
From a November 6, 2006 Boston Globe article:
Here’s something that may come as a surprise to some parents: MySpace.com claims it shuts down 30,000 underage users a week.
In November, 2006, Ross Levinsohn resigned as president of FIM, and was replaced by his cousin, Peter Levinsohn.
From a December 5, 2006 Sentryweb press release:
...announced today a joint effort to build Sentinel Safe....MySpace will be able to search existing state and federal databases to identify and delete the profiles of regsitered sex offenders....In an effort to disable convicted sex offenders from joining online communities, MySpace has been advocating and testifying in favor of federal legislation that would require convicted sex offenders to register all of their email addresses in a national sex offender database. MySpace has asked Congress to introduce email registration legislation...
On December 6, 2006, McCain introduced S.4089. Section 5. dealt with email registration of RSOs and Section 7 mandated:
Any online service provider...that is a social networking site shall implement effective measures to remove any web page hosted by that provider that is associated with any identifier listed in section...
The bill applied to all RSOs, not just those on conditional release.
In introducing the bill, McCain failed to document a need for a registry of RSO online identifiers:
...the bill also would ensure that sex offenders will register information relevant to their online activities on sex offender registries.
From a December 11, 2006 Cnet article:
A McCain aide, who did not want to be identified by name, said on Friday that the measure was targeted at any Web site that "you'd have to join up or become a member to use." No payment would be necessary to qualify...
From a December 7, 2006 article in Personal Democracy Forum:
Henson discovered a thread on the Texas District and County Attorney's public user forum where a bunch of prosecutors are discussing whether it's OK to go online and create fake profiles on MySpace in order to get a kid to "friend" them and thus give them access to their private MySpace page, where they might find evidence of someone bragging about a petty crime like vandalism.
From a December 16, 2006 Informationweek article, discussing the limitations of Sentinel Safe:
The concept, however, is unproven...And the database won't include unlisted child predators. "Most of the people who are molesting children online are not registered sex offenders," says online child safety advocate Parry Aftab of WiredSafety.org
From a December 20, 2006 Forbes article:
The company also worked with U.S. Sens. John McCain...and Chuck Schumer...to introduce legislation requiring sex offenders to list their active instant-message and e-mail addresses with government agencies.
RECAP: At the end of 2006 we know this:
*MySpace is a business strategy that solicits, encourages and
assists minors in providing personal information about
themselves in a cyreal environment. That info is then exploited
by marketers, advertisers, identity thieves, bullies, and predators
*Murdoch has invested heavily to ensure that the Internet revolves
*As designed, MySpace allows minors to access adult material,
and adults to contact minors
*MySpace refused the request of a state AG task force to
segregate the minors, raise the minimum age, and institute
an age verification process to protect the minors
*MySpace shifted the focus to registered sex offenders for the
numerous MySpace sexaul assaults, without documentation
*MySpace solicited, then assisted McCain in drafting a bill
requiring a non-public federal database of online identifiers
to be used by social networking sites to remove RSOs
*There was evidence that RSOs had profiles on MySpace but no
statistics relating the info to the MySpace assaults
*Governments fear what they can't control
*Netroots had an impact
*McCain was running for President
We also know that 95% of child sexual abuse is connected to familymembers, and the latest figures put sex offender recidivism of new sex offenses at about 6%. It also appears that in the last 15 months approximately 11 registered sex offenders have been accused of using MySpace to commit sex crimes.
There were roughly 100 reports of adults accused of using MySpace to commit sex crimes against minors in 2006.
From a January 17, 2007 WSJ article:
So far, MySpace has refused to take either of the steps demanded by the attorneys general....In the meantime, MySpace officials have been discussing Zephyr with others in the Internet industry, and facing much skepticism.
On the same day, four separate families filed suit in California against MySpace for the sexaul assault of their daughters.
From a January 29, 2007 Sentryweb press release indicating the intended scope:
LexisNexis Risk & Information Analytics Group announced today it has aligned with Sentinel, a leader in online verification, to create a solution designed to help detect sex offenders lurking on Web sites for social networking, dating, auctions or video game services to help keep online communities safe.
A January 29, 2007 Blumenthal press release:
"MySpace's sex offender data base is a false security blanket that ignores and distracts from the real problem-sexual predators not yet caught and convicted trolling for victims."
On January 30, 2007 McCain introduced S.431, while the House introduced the exact same bill under H.R.719, both of which are called "The Kids Act of 2007."
This version is stand alone, defines "commercial social networking website" under Section 4, and instead of mandating the data's use to block RSOs, leaves it to the individual sites. Section 3 provides liability relief for anyone who uses the database, and is subsequently sued. Again, the bill applies to all RSOs, who are subject to a 10 year federal sentence for violating.
Once again, McCain provided nothing in support of the bill other than statistics of adolescent use of networking sites:
...55 percent of adolescents polled said they have posted a profile on a social networking website, and 48 percent of adolescents polled say they visit a social networking website every day.
In short, the bill forces a class of individuals to register personal info into a non-public federal database. Upon request, the database is provided to designated third parties, to delete, restrict and deny citizens access to their sites, including those engaged in legal conduct, without fear of litigation.
From a January 29, 2007 Schumer press release:
The senators said the registration and collection of sex offenders' email addresses will provide an invaluable tool for law enforcement because, should a sex offender provide an email found to be fraudulent, they will know that the predator is trying to evade detection....Schumer and McCain are also working together on future legislation to better protect children online.
(not sure why the dates are off).
On February 13, 2007, a Federal judge ruled in favor of MySpace in the Jane Doe petition, making note that the girl had lied about her age and gave out personal information. There were no cries of 'activist judge."
On February 22, 2007, FIM bought Strategic Data Corp., an Internet advertising technology specialist.
From a March 7, 2007 Computerworld article:
"...they're not the most effective means of protecting children online," says Chaudhuri of the North Carolina attorney General's office. "They're all changes on the margins and don't focus on the critical issue of trying to distinguish the child from the adult or the adult from the child."
From a March 7, 2007 Blumenthal press release:
...announced legislation requiring social networking web sites like MySpace...to verify users' ages, obtain parental consent to post profiles of minors and allow parents access to their children's pages.
March 13, 2007 Wired article leaking info about MySpace "news aggregation portal."
On March 19, 2007, MySpace launched Impact, its political channel, and according to pcworld 9 candidates had profiles the same day:
MySpace hopes to play a "powerful role" in the 2008 elections, CEO Chris DeWolf said....MySpace will roll out an Impact-specific profile, which will allow candidates to use the network's first "viral" fundraising tool, within weeks....MySpace will also host a series of online political events through the 2008 presidential elections.
A March 22, 2007 News Corp. press release announcing media alliance:
This media alliance will offer consumers free long-and short form video and create a compelling platform for advertisers.
On May 10, 2007, MySpace announced plans to host college town hall events with presidential candidates.
On May 14, 2007 Blumenthal and seven other state AGs requested information from MySpace as to what Sentinal Safe uncovered.
From a May 15, 2007 Cnet article:
The News Corp. social-networking site said it will launch more than a dozen "branded" news and lifestyle-oriented video channels in the coming months as part of a growing push to expand its video offerings.
On May 21, 2007, having refused the state AGs request on federal privacy grounds, members of the task force sent a subpeona: requesting, among other items, email addresses, various IP addresess, telephone numbers and credit/bank account numbers.
As of today's date, MySpace is busy handing over to the state AGs personal info regarding the alleged 7,000 RSO profiles Sentinel Safe uncovered, including those engaged in legal conduct.
Meanwhile, in true Republican hypocrisy, not one Republican House member has signed on to support the one bill that implements the findings and recommendations of two Congressional panels that researched child Internet safety issues, H.R.1008.
This bill will protect your child from online sexual predators.
Emails are free and anonymous. The bill is unenforceable on the front end without third party monitoring. Criminal penalties attach only after the damage has been done.
RSOs on conditional release have strict restrictions on Internet use which is monitored by Probation Officers and third parties, as part of court ordered punishment. Thus the bill targets RSOs who have no restrictions on Internet use.
The bill fails to address 90% of its stated goal.
Government sanctioned censorship.
The Uber Reality
Murdoch continues the Incorporation of the Internet, while pocketing a few more politicians
McCain et al. get access to the millions held hostage on MySpace, while touting leadership qualties.
The government gets personal information on citizens engaged in legal conduct handed to them from the private sector.
Justification for third party monitoring/denial of Internet use of a designated class of citizens.
Cornerstone is laid to expand the program against other designated groups.
Sex offenders have replaced terrorists in the government's sandbox.