MySpace.com has agreed to one of Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's key demands that it provide free software to block the site - but Blumenthal is demanding that it display the links more clearly and noticeably.
At Blumenthal's urging, MySpace recently posted a link to free blocking software called "K9 Web Protection," but the site so far has failed to make the program easy to find or label it clearly.
Blumenthal reiterated his demand following this week's arrest of a 27-year-old Chaplin man for allegedly sexually assaulting a 13-year-old Hebron girl he met on MySpace. Blumenthal also urged MySpace to act on his other demands to safeguard children, including purging "deep links" to pornography and inappropriate material, tougher age verification and banning users under 16.
"The most recent sexual assault arrest chillingly shows the need for free software to block MySpace and clear notice to parents about how to install and use it," Blumenthal said. "We are building a coalition of states that will persuade or compel MySpace to do more and do it more quickly so that such appalling criminal incidents will be prevented. MySpace has the technological means and money to make its website safer through tougher age verification, higher age limits and stronger warnings and notice, as well as barriers to pornography and predators. Now is the time to raise the pace and substance of its response to the clear and present danger of mixing children with sexually explicit content and sexually interested adults.
"MySpace has taken some steps in response to my concerns, but I remain deeply troubled about the pace and substance of changes to the site, especially since it continues to expose children to potential harm, including pornography, adults seeking sex, and sexual predators. MySpace can and should do more to help parents protect children. Very simply, 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."
To access the free blocking software, parents now must click on "Safeguards," at the bottom of the home page and all subsequent pages, which takes them to a "safety tips" page. They must then click on the "Tips for Parents" tab and scroll to the bottom of the page to the "K9 Web Protection" link.
Clicking on that link takes parents to the K9 Web Protection home page which includes a link to the blocking software. Only on the K9 Web Protection page do parents finally learn that the software will block access to the site and is free.
Blumenthal asks MySpace "to provide bold, conspicuous notice, and a clear link on every page for free blocking software that can stop access to MySpace, as well as to other websites that include sexually explicit material and other inappropriate content."
Blumenthal also repeats his previous requests that MySpace prevent 14- and 15-year-olds from setting their profiles to "public" - meaning any user can view them - and clearly disclose that some users are seeking sexual encounters and others are sexual predators targeting minors.