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US calls for online age verification

Regulators in the US are calling for social networking sites, including Myspace and Facebook, to introduce age verifying software in order to address and improve the safety of children online.

US legal authorities have been meeting with News Corporation, owners of Myspace, to discuss the introduction of an independently monitored age verification system which would prevent minors being targeted online.

In addition, New York's State attorney general, Andrew Cuomo recently agreed a settlement which has seen Facebook agreeing to introduce stricter child safety warnings.

Cuomo commented that the new measures adopted by Facebook would promote "a new model" for other social networking websites as they attempt to tackle internet sex crime: Facebook has set up a process where users can report sexually inappropriate conduct, which it must respond to within 24 hours.

Meanwhile in the UK, the Government has commissioned Dr Tanya Byron to look at the risks to children from exposure to potentially harmful or inappropriate material on the internet and in video games. The Byron Review report is due to be released in March 2008 and aims to identify measures that will help parents feel confident that their children are using new technologies in a way that is appropriate for their age and development.

The Byron Review is an independent review supported by officials from the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department for Culture Media and Sport.

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