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Baker applauds MySpace's move to protect young users

Georgia attorney general also supports state's voter ID law

POSTED: January 29, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker applauded MySpace’s decision to take steps to protect youngsters from sexual predators and bullies, including searching for ways to verify users’ ages.

"I am ecstatic that we’re moving in this direction ... for the children all over this country," Baker said. "It’s a good day for us."

Baker and other state attorney generals have been discussing with MySpace and other social-networking sites ways to make operations safer for children.

"We can do a better job on age verification, which is a huge issue," said Baker, who was in Gainesville Thursday speaking at Brenau University’s winter convocation.

MySpace has agreed to work with attorney generals to do a better job on that issue, "to make sure that those sites are secure where appropriate and have even a kind of closed site for students in high school," Baker said.

Under mounting pressure from law enforcement and parents, MySpace also has promised to create a task force of industry professionals to watch over its operations, and other social-networking sites will be invited to participate.

The deal comes as sites such as MySpace and Facebook have grown exponentially in recent years, with teenagers making up a large part of their membership.

This creates a new venue for sexual predators who lie about their age to lure young victims and for cyber bullies who send threatening and anonymous messages.

But skeptics are doubtful that MySpace and similar sites can eliminate the problem because age-verification technology is difficult to implement and predators are good at circumventing restrictions.

Baker also defended Georgia’s voter identification law, the constitutionality of which is being examined in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The law requires Georgia residents to show photo identification when voting in person. It took effect with the special elections on Sept. 18.

"We’ve just had a round of elections in this state and, to our knowledge, we’ve not had any problems with someone not being able to vote because they didn’t have a voter ID," Baker said. "It’s one of those issues, though, that we have to continue to monitor. ... I certainly want to make sure that every person who wants to vote ... has an opportunity to vote."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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