HARRISBURG – Attorney General Tom Corbett today called a recently issued report on Internet safety a setback in developing safety guidelines for children using the Internet.
The Internet Safety Technical Task Force report was issued by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. MySpace, at the request of the attorneys general, agreed to create and lead the task force to identify and explore age verification and technologies to improve social networking safety. Although the attorneys general requested the creation of the task force, they did not serve as members.
“I believe this report is incredibly misleading and significantly lessens the progress we have made in implementing safety techniques for children using the Internet,” Corbett said. “Giving parents a false sense of security about their children’s safety online is dangerous, especially when thousands of predators are still trolling the Internet seeking victims.”
“The threat is real,” Corbett said. “In the last four years, my office has arrested 183 predators, all of whom have used the Internet for the purpose of contacting minors to engage in sexual activity.”
Corbett noted that among the predators arrested in child sex stings was a 50-year old male who used chat rooms to solicit young boys to engage in illegal deviant sex acts. Upon further investigation, agents discovered that he was HIV positive and had already had sexual contact with a 14-year old boy.
Corbett said that it is not uncommon for Internet predators to show up at arranged meetings with duct tape, condoms, rope, lubricant, and even presents.
Discussing the report further, Corbett was encouraged that the task force identified 40 technologies and tools to improve social networking site safety. However, he noted that this positive aspect was not the focus of the report. Instead, the task force went to great lengths to deny the existence of a problem, casting blame on the adolescent victims instead of working toward a productive solution.
“Outdated statistics and academic projections are of little comfort to the minors who have been sexually victimized by online predators,” Corbett said. “The mere fact that tens of thousands of registered sex offenders have been removed from MySpace should be sufficient to cause any parent concern.”
Corbett will continue to call upon social networking sites to implement technology to provide greater protection to minors. He will also continue to educate Pennsylvania’s communities and families about safely navigating the Internet and will continue his efforts to protect Pennsylvania’s minors by arresting those who seek to do them harm.