HARTFORD, Conn. - Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is backing a bill currently being considered in the state's legislature that would require social networking Internet sites to take new age-verification measures.
Blumenthal said that at least six assault cases involving underage girls and older men have been tied to MySpace.com in Connecticut.
Blumenthal is working with the General Law Committee to get the legislation passed.
"This bill helps protect kids - and puts parents back in control -- against perils and predators on social networking sites. Age verification is the key to making social networking sites safer. Our proposal requires sites like MySpace to check ages for users or face stiff fines," Blumenthal said.
The proposal would allow individuals to bring private lawsuits, and sites that failed to verify ages and/or obtain parental permission for potential users under 18 would be subject to civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation per day.
MySpace Chief Security Officer Hemanshu Nigam said in a statement, "We have and will continue to focus considerable resources on developing effective ways to make our site safer. Attorney General Blumenthal's proposal, while well intentioned, is not the answer."
Blumenthal is helping lead a coalition of 44 states that is asking MySpace to better shield minors from sexual predators and inappropriate material. Last May, Blumenthal chided the site for not displaying links to software that blocks MySpace more prominently.
Plus, he told The Associated Press that 10-20 other attorneys general are thinking of introducing similar legislation in their respective states.
Blumenthal and 45 other attorneys general attended the National Association of Attorneys General spring meeting last week. When asked if Rhode Island's success with its lead paint lawsuit would prompt him to file one of his own, he said, "We generally make our own decisions."
This decision would likely have ramifications in other states, given the nature of Internet regulation.
State Rep. Christopher Stone, D, is the co-chairman of the General Law Committee, and told The Associated Press that he hopes "this will become the model for national legislation."