The Judiciary Committee passed a bill Monday that will impact social networking Web sites which allow its users to comment and share information.
While the bill proposed by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is well-intentioned, it may have some unintended consequences.
The bill would force social networking sites, defined broadly in the legislation, to verify the ages of users that comment or post their profiles on a site. The legislation is aimed at sites like MySpace and Facebook, but could include sites like Connecticut Local Politics, My Left Nutmeg, and perhaps CTNewsjunkie.com.
Judiciary Committee Co-Chairman Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, asked Rep. Chris Stone, D-East Hartford, if the legislation included things such as blogs. Stone said that it was a reasonable interpretation to say blogs would be included. Despite this information, Lawlor voted in favor of the measure and hoped that social networking would be defined further as the bill goes to the floor of the House.
Rep. Tim O’Brien, D-New Britain, said the bill is “well-intentioned” but it’s not a good approach to the problem. He said the best way to protect children from Internet predators is parental involvement. O’Brien said while he voted for the bill Monday he will not vote for it on the floor if changes aren’t made to protect bloggers. O’Brien is a blogger and has his own blog hosted by Blogspot.
Judiciary Committee Co-Chairman Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, was one of the only legislators on the committee to vote against the bill Monday. He said he doesn’t understand how it would give Blumenthal subpoena power over Web sites not located in the state. Stone said the subpoena power was only for the first two sections of the bill that address phishing scams. McDonald said he still felt the state didn’t have sufficient jurisdiction over out-of-state web hosting facilities.
Click here for the video of the vote. Click here to read Matt W’s post on My Left Nutmeg about the legislation, which originally didn’t include the social networking language. There was no public hearing on the social networking portion of the legislation added by the General Law Committee in early March.