NJ lawmakers considering Internet safety bills

February 23, 2009 1:01:36 PM PST
New Jersey lawmakers this week plan to consider a series of measures aimed at protecting children and teenagers from Web-trolling predators. A package of 10 bills introduced in the Assembly Monday would stiffen the penalties for harassing or communicating with minors in sexually explicit ways online and allow wiretapping to investigate some suspected crimes against children.

They're part of an aggressive assault Attorney General Anne Milgram is making against Internet abuses, especially those involving children.

"As we pursued our initiatives, it became clear that it was essential that our criminal and civil enforcement statutes address evolving threats posed by bad actors online," Milgram said. "This comprehensive Internet safety legislative package addresses those issues."

Milgram has already pressured social networking sites such as Facebook to better police their sites for online abuses. Her office developed a "Report Abuse!" icon that several social networking sites have agreed to display on their Web pages, making it easier to report threats and online harassment.

Networking sites that agree to display the icon must also agree to respond to complaints quickly and effectively.

The sponsor of the bills, Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein, D-Hamilton, said the they would give police more tools to protect minors who use the Internet for homework or socializing.

Greenstein represents the district where a convicted pedophile raped and murdered 7-year-old Megan Kanka, sparking sexual predator notification laws known as Megan's Law.

Members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee are scheduled to debate the bills Thursday.

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