A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the social networking Web site MySpace, which had been filed by the family of a 13-year-old girl who says she was sexually assaulted by a 19-year-old man she met online. We reported on this lawsuit last month, which accused the site of having no measures to protect children who use it, and had hoped that it would be successful. The lawsuit also named MySpace’s parent company, News Corp., and the 19-year-old, whose criminal case has not yet gone to trial. In its ruling issued on February 12th, the court held that MySpace was protected under the Communications Decency Act. The court said the Web site couldn’t be expected to verify the age of every user because that “would … stop MySpace’s business in its tracks.”
The Decency Act cited by the judge generally grants immunity to interactive computer services such as MySpace so that they are not liable for content posted by users. Sites like MySpace shouldn’t be allowed to avoid the duty to make the Internet safe for children. MySpace knows its Web site is a playground for sexual predators. Because of that, MySpace should be doing some very basic safety precautions. An appeal by the girl and her family is expected. Hopefully, the lower court’s ruling will be reversed on appeal. If that doesn’t happen, Congress should get involved and take away any immunity under federal law that presently exists.
Source: Associated Press
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