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Dot-kids bill clears House hurdle

By Lisa M. Bowman
April 10, 2002

A bill that seeks to establish a special domain for children's Web sites cleared a House committee Wednesday, but lawmakers set high hurdles for sites that would reside there.

The U.S. House Energy Commerce Committee on Wednesday approved "The Dot Kids Implementation and Efficiency Act" after making some changes to the proposal that are designed to stave off child predators.

The changes include prohibitions on what sponsor Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., calls "high-risk interactive services," or most types of instant messaging, chat rooms, e-mail and even hyperlinks that take children outside of the domain. To provide such services, sites would have to demonstrate the features aren't dangerous to children.

The goal of the bill is to provide a safe space for children on the Web, the latest in a long line of attempts to make the Internet child-friendly.

Lawmakers have long tried, with varying degrees of success, to regulate Web content in the interest of children. Attempts have included bills prohibiting content deemed inappropriate for minors, provisions that were later found unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds. Another law, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), bans sites from collecting personal information about children without first receiving parental permission.

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