Just found this, but back in February a Federal Judge in Texas dismissed a suit against MySpace. The lawsuit was brought by the mother of a 14 year old girl who lied about her age on MySpace, made a date with a 19 year old and was assaulted while on the date. They alleged that MySpace should have done more to make sure the 14 year old was who she said she was.
Sparks’ decision to dismiss the lawsuit was based mainly on the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which exempted websites and Internet service providers from responsibility for what their users said online. The law also states that those providers can’t be held liable for adopting imperfect protections against indecent or harmful content — a provision aimed at encouraging sites to do the best they could to safeguard users. To its credit, MySpace has taken several steps to guard against sexual predators, such as limiting the contact between adults and users who say they are younger than 16 years old. It is also lobbying state legislatures and Congress to require convicted sex offenders to register their e-mail addresses, and it plans to unveil software that could help parents see how their children are identifying themselves on MySpace.
This relates closely to my recent post about adult websites. A website should not be held accountable when an unsupervised underage minor is exposed to unacceptable content, especially if they lie about their age.
In related news, the Connecticut legislature has take the opposite approach.
Connecticut lawmakers unveiled legislation Wednesday that would require MySpace.com and other social-networking sites to verify users’ ages and obtain parental consent before minors can post profiles.
It will be interesting to see how much time and money is wasted in court due to this law…