Memorandum submitted by Fox Interactive
1. MySpace, a unit of Fox Interactive Media
Inc. (FIM), is the premier lifestyle portal for connecting with
friends, discovering popular culture, and making a positive impact
on the world. By integrating web profiles, blogs, instant messaging,
email, music streaming, music videos, photo galleries, classified
listings, events, groups, college communities, and member forums,
MySpace has created a connected community. As the first-ranked
web domain in terms of page views, MySpace is the most widely
used and highly regarded site of its kind and is committed to
providing the highest quality member experience. MySpace will
continue to innovate with new features that allow its members
to express their creativity and share their lives, both online
and off. MySpace's international network includes 20 localized
community sites in the United States, Canada, UK, Austria, Finland,
Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, France,
Ireland, Netherlands, Spain, Latin America, Mexico, Australia,
Japan, and New Zealand. FIM is a division of News Corporation.
2. FIM is committed to making the Internet
a safer environment for teens and people of all ages. We look
forward to working with the Culture, Media and Sports Committee,
the Byron Review, the Prime Minister, and all relevant UK government
ministries and agencies to address issues of interest. The following
highlights some of the most notable advancements MySpace has made
to enhance safety on its Site for all of its members and visitors.
3. MySpace's global corporate headquarters
are in the United States given its initial launch and growth in
the U.S. MySpace has developed a close, cooperative working relationship
with the United States government and law enforcement, and we
are committed to developing similar relationships with governments
and law enforcement in countries where we localize our Sites.
In the UK, we have worked collaboratively with different branches
of the government and law enforcement. MySpace has participated
in the ongoing discussions related to the Home Office Task Force
on Child Protection on the Internet, is a member of the DCFS Cyberbullying
Task Force, and has had numerous discussions with relevant UK
4. For example, MySpace is pleased to note
that following discussions we had with Home Office officials in
February 2007, the then-Home Secretary John Reid announced his
support for making key features of the Sex Offenders' Register
available to those involved in efforts to promote online safety.
Jim Gamble, Chief Executive Officer of the Child Exploitation
and Online Protection Centre, also expressed his strong support
for this idea. Subsequently, at the conclusion of the Review of
the Protection of Children from Sex Offenders, in June 2007, the
government announced its intention to "Extend the information
that offenders must provide when on the Sex Offenders Register
to include for example email addresses...." The availability
of such data would, of course, be essential to any policy of the
kind being discussed last February.
5. MySpace is now engaged in further discussions
with Home Office officials on taking this policy further in the
UK. We would also like to see sex offenders required to register
any IM tags or any chat identifiers they might use.
6. MySpace has also engaged with the UK's
Office of the Information Commissioner to explore ways of providing
information to the public related to data protection and privacy
in the context of social networking. A central component of MySpace's
efforts is transferring, as closely as possible, safety features
that society follows in the physical world to the online world.
More specifically, MySpace believes in and proposes a comprehensive
approach that involves the following elements working together:
Site-specific safety features, policies,
and practices to address illegal and otherwise harmful content;
Cooperation with law enforcement
and collaboration to the extent permitted by law;
Engaged and informed parents with
access to tools to protect their children;
Easy to use tools for members to
protect themselves and their privacy and to report any abusive
contact or content;
Robust safety educational information
available to members;
Strong online safety legislation;
Collaboration with organizations
that further promote online safety and education.
7. MySpace's safety program starts with
a staff with a strong background in law enforcement and Internet
safety issues. Its head is Hemanshu Nigam, a former U.S. Department
of Justice Internet crimes prosecutor who also has held executive-level
security positions at Microsoft and the Motion Picture Association
of America. MySpace is supported by an international team of professionals
devoted to online safety. The MySpace global safety initiatives
and law enforcement coordination are overseen by Jennifer Mardosz,
also a former U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor who specialized
in Internet crimes against children. In the UK, MySpace has a
safety and security manager, Chris Atkinson, who has over 10 years
of experience in child protection and Internet education awareness.
Furthermore, MySpace has engaged renowned child protection advocate,
John Carr, as a consultant on online safety issues in the UK.
Carr has a wide range of experience in this area, serving as Secretary
of the Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety, and
as the former Head of the Children & Technology Unit at NCH,
as well as other positions in the field. MySpace also has two
dedicated safety personnel in Australia and is currently hiring
safety personnel in France, Germany, Italy, Brazil, Canada, and
the Scandinavian countries.
FIM, through its activities on MySpace, has
pro-actively sought to improve online safety by adopting and continuing
to advance the safety features described below.
8. SAFETY FEATURES
Email Verification: MySpace
requires that users register with a valid email address, which
is authenticated via email response. This helps law enforcement
track down potential criminals by removing some of the anonymity
of individuals by associating them with an actual email address.
Monitoring Age Limits: MySpace's
of age and over. While there is currently no effective age verification
mechanism due to technical, legal, and data challenges, MySpace
has adopted a number of technical solutions and procedures to
enforce the age restriction. For example, the MySpace registration
page requires prospective members to enter their exact birth date,
and individuals who enter a date that does not meet the requisite
age are not permitted to register.
To combat a situation where a teen under 14 lies
about his or her age, MySpace employs a search algorithm, utilizing
several thousand terms commonly used by underage users, to find
and delete underage profiles. The Site is scanned for such terms,
and the database of search terms is updated to reflect changes
in user behavior and terminology.
Profiles that have been reported by MySpace members
or parents as belonging to an underage user also are reviewed
by MySpace. Whenever an underage user is identified, the profile
is deleted. MySpace similarly will remove members if we believe
they are over 18 and they represent themselves as under 18.
Privacy Settings: All users
have the option to set their profiles to private and profiles
of users aged 14 and 15 are automatically set to private. The
privacy setting for users aged 14 and 15 prohibits any unsolicited
contact or communication with users not given the status of friend
who are over the age of 15. If a user chooses to override this
setting, the user will see specific safety tips about the disclosure
of personally identifiable information, and will be required to
confirm the choice to change this setting. Even if the default
privacy setting is overridden, the profile is only viewable by
the user's friends and other users under 18. Users 18 and over
can only become "friends" with users aged 14 and 15
if they know the younger user's last name or email address.
Additionally, users under 18 can block users 18 and
over from contacting them or viewing their profiles and, alternatively,
users 18 and over can block users under 18 from contacting them
or viewing their profiles. All users also can conceal their `online
now' status, and can pre-approve all comments before being posted
to their blogs.
Tools for Engaging Users: MySpace
offers users methods to report inappropriate content to MySpace.
Specifically, throughout the Site there are links to "Contact
MySpace" and a link to "Report Abuse" at the bottom
of every MySpace user's profile. MySpace also has in the U.S.
safety pages that include tips for users and parents. MySpace
currently is developing a resource page dedicated to UK contacts
and law enforcement.
Image Review: MySpace is diligent
in reviewing its Site for inappropriate content, reviewing each
image and video that is uploaded to the MySpace server for compliance
pornography, and sexually explicit images).
the entire profile are deleted. Hashing technology is also used
to prevent inappropriate images from being uploaded a second time,
after they have already been identified as inappropriate. MySpace
is exploring the use of hashing technology for use in video uploads.
In the United States, MySpace also gives users the
ability to report sexually explicit (including child pornography)
conduct directly to the National Center for Missing and Exploited
Children's (NCMEC's) CyberTipLine. (MySpace of course reports
any and all child pornography to NCMEC independent of user reports.)
Dedicated Team for Customer Care:
Sensitive issues such as cyberbullying, impostor profiles,
and harassment are handled by a special Customer Care team.
Screening Out Registered Sex Offenders:
As noted above, MySpace is committed to transferring safety
features from the physical world into the online setting. For
example, in the United States, convicted sex offenders are required
to register their physical addresses on publicly availably sex
offender registries. MySpace recently partnered with Sentinel
Tech Holding Corp. to build a database, called "Sentinel
SAFE," which compiles all the registries into one centralized
searchable database. We are currently comparing the Sentinel SAFE
database against the MySpace database so we can remove registered
sex offenders from our Site. We are deleting the sex offenders'
profiles and preserving the information so it can be used, if
relevant, in a criminal investigation. MySpace would welcome the
opportunity to discuss the feasibility of the extension of this
program into the UK.
AMBER Alerts: In the U.S.,
NCMEC developed a system to send emergency notifications to local
communities via traditional communications (radio and television)
when a child becomes missing. MySpace has partnered with NCMEC
to distribute localized online AMBER alerts via MySpace to help
bring a missing child home as soon as possible. MySpace would
like to explore finding ways to extend the UK's AMBER Alert program
into the online world.
Parental Verification Software:
MySpace is currently developing free parental verification
software that, once downloaded onto a computer, is expected to
identify users who log into MySpace from that computer. The software
will reveal user-provided information (age, user name, and hometown)
to parents so they will know whether their child has a MySpace
profile and what age the child has claimed to be regardless of
the computer that the child subsequently uses to log in to the
Preventing Teens from Accessing
Age-Inappropriate Content: MySpace restricts the ability of
younger users to access age-inappropriate content. For example,
advertisements for age-inappropriate products or services (eg,
online dating, tobacco, or alcohol) are not displayed to users
under 18. Users under 18 are also denied access to age-inappropriate
areas such as Romance & Relationship chat, forums, and groups;
all groups designated as Mature; and Classified categories such
as Personals and Casting Calls.
9. LAW ENFORCEMENT
MySpace has developed a comprehensive Law Enforcement
Guide for U.S. law enforcement to explain how to obtain the information
they need from MySpace for their investigations. The Guide describes
what type of information is available and the mechanisms by which
law enforcement may lawfully request it. MySpace also maintains
a 24/7 dedicated hotline and email address for use solely by law
enforcement. MySpace is currently preparing an international law
enforcement guide, which will include information for UK law enforcement,
specifically outlining the legal processes by which UK law enforcement
can obtain information from MySpace.
MySpace is also hiring safety personnel on the
ground in many countries outside the U.S. where it operates localized
sites. In the UK, Chris Atkinson serves as MySpace's law enforcement
liaison, assisting UK police forces with their requests for information
from MySpace in law enforcement investigations. She has also provided
training to UK law enforcement officials and provided input to
training courses, including a CEOP-hosted course, to ensure that
police officers are familiar with MySpace and know how to report
any concerns. MySpace has also worked in partnership with the
CEOP and the police to facilitate communication in cases where
young people have been reported missing.
If MySpace discovers any child pornography or
receives any predator-related reports, it promptly reports such
information to NCMEC, as required under U.S. law. MySpace then
locks the profile so that the user is unable to make any changes
to or access the profile. NCMEC then provides the information
to law enforcement so that the authorities can investigate accordingly.
Any child pornography that appears to be uploaded from a user
in a country other than the U.S., would be reported to that country's
law enforcement via NCMEC.
MySpace believes that one of the best ways to
fight sexual predators on the Internet is to recognize that the
web is every bit a neighborhood as our cities and towns and modernize
our laws. MySpace is very interested in working with government
and legislators to promote legislation that is aimed at fighting
sexual predator activity on the web. To date, these efforts have
been focused on the state legislatures and federal government
in the United States, but MySpace recognizes that the Internet
is an international neighborhood. Consequently, MySpace welcomes
the opportunity to discuss the possibility of working with appropriate
agencies in the UK to analyze the feasibility of pursuing a similar
strategy as that described below.
Email Registration for Sex Offenders:
In the United States, sex offender registries require registration
only of physical addresses. MySpace is advocating that those sex
offenders also be required to register their email addresses,
instant messaging (IM) and chat identifiers with the registries.
That way, MySpace and other websites can then use that information
to keep convicted sex offenders from signing up on their site.
However, if a registered sex offender uses a false or unregistered
email address, IM or chat identifier, they would face criminal
penalties. Eleven states in the U.S. have passed such legislation
and it has been introduced into numerous others. Recently, the
U.S Council of State Governments adopted sex offender email registry
legislation as a "model bill," with the likelihood of
U.S. state adoption more broadly in 2008.
Misrepresentation of Age to Solicit
Minors Online: MySpace also supports legislation that makes
it a crime for an adult Internet user to lie about their age with
the intent to solicit a minor online for sexual purposes.
MySpace is a firm believer in the power of user
education and collaborative outreach in the pursuit of improved
online safety and has, therefore, worked with law enforcement,
schools, community groups, and Internet users. These are essential
steps, and as MySpace becomes increasingly popular outside the
United States, it will continue to pursue and foster these relationships
with non-U.S. law enforcement agencies, education groups, NGOs
and community representatives.
Law Enforcement: MySpace provides
training to U.S. cybercrime units on how to investigate and prosecute
cybercriminals using MySpace. As noted above, MySpace has participated
in CEOP-sponsored events in the UK, and is developing UK-specific
law enforcement guidance.
Parents and Teens: MySpace
provides extensive educational resources for parents and teens
on its Site, including links to safety tips for parents and users
that appear at the bottom of every page of the Site. The user
safety tips provide guidelines on how to use MySpace safely. The
parent safety tips are designed to educate parents about MySpace
and how to help their teens make safe decisions in relation to
their use of online communities. It also encourages parents to
talk with their kids about how they communicate with others and
how they represent themselves on MySpace. Additionally, it provides
parents with step-by-step instructions detailing how to remove
their teen's profile from MySpace if they so desire, and links
to free software that enables parents to monitor or block their
teen's use of the Internet, including blocking MySpace. MySpace
also provides a link for parents to purchase a book entitled "MySpace
Unravelled", written by renowned online safety experts Larry
Magid and Anne Collier, which reviews safety on MySpace specifically
European Education Initiative:
MySpace has been working with 13 other multi-national technology
and telecommunications companies as part of a newly formed industry
partnership with a European education organization called European
Schoolnet (EUN) to deliver a coordinated set of education and
awareness materials aimed at teachers across Europe. This initiative
represents the industry coming together and working with one clear
set of communications to deliver a cohesive set of resources to:
Support teachers in Europe to understand
Web 2.0 and converging Internet/mobile services such as social
networking and user-generated content;
Provide materials for teachers to address
current difficulties related to issues such as cyberbullying,
responsible use, privacy and personal safety;
Enable teachers to distribute information
and resources to parents, children and wider school communities;
Support parents and caregivers in safeguarding
their children's use of new technology; and
Provide core materials in main European
languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Italian) and localization
toolkits for other languages.
NGO Partnerships: MySpace
is also involved with, and dedicates resources to help, non-governmental
organizations on Internet safety issues. Some U.S.-based safety
organizations include IKeepSafe.org, NCMEC, Enough is Enough,
and Connect Safely. MySpace is developing a similar strategy for
outreach within the UK.
Media Outreach: MySpace, through
its parent company FIM, has an extensive media reach and has used
these abilities to increase public awareness about online safety.
MySpace has also launched Public Service Announcements (PSAs)
on Internet safety through FIM's media platforms and other platforms
targeted at children. This has included News Corporation and MySpace
engagement in the largest PSA campaigns on Internet safety with
NCMEC as well as the development of celebrity-based multimedia
PSA campaigns on Internet safety via multiple media outlets, in
addition to online PSAs. Also as part of this effort, FIM partnered
with Common Sense Media and the PTA to launch a national television
PSA campaign featuring "24" star Kiefer Sutherland.
MySpace is planning similar outreach activities to be deployed
within the UK.
MySpace is committed to a continued public private
partnership, and in connection with that commitment we are working
with law enforcement, governments, and NGOs in the myriad of ways
described above, including promoting the adoption of site-specific
safety measures, a targeted legislative strategy, and collaborative
efforts. To this end, MySpace finalized a "Joint Agreement"
with the State Attorneys General in the United States that will
enhance the safety functionality on the site across jurisdictions.
A copy of the "Joint Agreement" is attached to this
submission (along with two documents summarizing the agreement,
see Appendix I, II, III). We also support the ongoing efforts
of the Prime Minister, all relevant UK government ministries and
agencies, the Byron Review and the Parliament, including this
review of the Committee on Culture, Media and Sport to address
Internet safety. We look forward to a continued dialogue and increased
cooperation on these issues.
2 In addition, and of relevance here, the Terms of
Use prohibit content that: is patently offensive and promotes
racism, bigotry, hatred, or physical harm of any kind against
any group or individual; harasses or advocates harassment of another
person; exploits people in a sexual or violent manner; contains
nudity, excessive violence, or offensive subject matter or contains
a link to an adult website; solicits personal information from
anyone under 18; provides any telephone numbers, street addresses,
last names, URLs, or email addresses; promotes information that
the user knows is false or misleading, or promotes illegal activities
or conduct that is abusive, threatening, obscene, defamatory,
or libelous; promotes an illegal or unauthorized copy of another
person's copyrighted work; involves the transmission of "junk
mail" "chain letters", or unsolicited mass mailing,
instant messaging, "spimming", or "spamming";
furthers or promotes any criminal activity or enterprise or provides
instructional information about illegal activities; solicits passwords
or personal identifying information for commercial or unlawful
purposes from other users; includes a photograph of another person
that is posted without that person's consent; or for band and
filmmaker profiles, uses sexually suggestive imagery or any other
unfair, misleading, or deceptive content intended to draw traffic
to the profile. Back