Springfield State Journal-Register

May 22, 2002

House passes bill creating kids domain on Internet 


WASHINGTON - The House overwhelmingly approved a bill Tuesday that would create a safe haven for children on the
Internet, a "kids' zone" where they can't inadvertently call up a Web site containing pornography.

The bill, authored by Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, would have the federal government create a separate domain that would
be limited to material appropriate for children under age 13. Parents could program their computer to limit a child's access to only
addresses ending in ".kids.us."

"As the father of three small boys, I fear their time on the Internet," said Shimkus, whose children are ages 9, 7 and 2. "Parents need to be aware of what Web sites their children are surfing, and this legislation will give them a helping hand."

The House bill represents a reversal of earlier, unsuccessful attempts to restrict the distribution of "indecent" material to minors
over the Internet. The Supreme Court in 1997 deemed earlier legislation unconstitutional.

Shimkus said Web site operators' participation under his bill would be voluntary, as would parents' decision to use it.

"Libraries have children's books sections, why can't the Internet have the same type of section devoted to children's interests?"
Shimkus said.

The American Civil Liberties Union opposes the bill.

"It's institutionalizing government censorship," said ACLU attorney Marv Johnson. "The government is actually the ultimate censor
of what is going to happen in the 'dot kids' domain name."

The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration would oversee a private firm that
would propose standards for content, subject to government approval, and then monitor the Web sites for compliance. The private firm would be exempt from liability for removing content from the site.

The bill is supported by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, the Family Research Council and the National Law
Center for Children and Families.

The House bill was approved 406-2. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada, and Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., plan to introduce a similar bill
in the Senate.

If the measure reaches the White House, Shimkus predicted President Bush would sign it.