Since 1996, the American Civil Liberty Union has fought against most of the Internet Safety Laws calling them unconstitutional. In several cases, the Supreme Court agrees. However, over the last few years several new Federal and State Internet specific laws, which can provide legal, defence against cybercriminals, cyber-paedophiles, Cyber-Bullies, and online Identity Thieves, have become law. Although laws are a great defence, the real defence is people taking proactive steps to educate themselves about Internet Safety.
History of Federal Internet Safety Laws
In 1996, Congress passed and the President signed into law the first Internet Safety Law "The Communications Decency Act." In 1997, the Supreme Court found the law unconstitutional. In 1998, a second law was passed, "The Child Online Protection Act", this law was also challenged and in 2004 was found unconstitutional. In 2000 Congress passed the "The Children's Internet Protection Act" which although challenged as unconstitutional, has passed the Supreme Court scrutiny as a valid law. In 2008 the "PROTECT Our Children Act" was signed into law by President Bush, which is the strongest law to date.
History of State Safety Laws
State laws are something new, and mostly cover Cyberbullying and cyberstalking activities. There are 19 states with some type of Internet Safety Law created to protect their residents against cybercriminal activities. It should be noted that every state has laws in force to protect people against all any type of assault. The assault can come from a physical attack or verbal attack via wireless communication appliances, e-mail, text or the Internet.
The PROTECT Our Children Act
This new Internet Safety Law focused on protecting children from just every type or exploitation on the Internet. The nerve centre of the new law requires the Attorney General to lead the fight by creating a national level task force to focus on protecting children. This law includes both online child exploitation, and offline exploitation. In recent years, exploitation has started online, and then has moved to offline physical exploitation of children and adults.
Pending Federal Legislation
The currently there is a new bill working its way through the Congressional process. When passed, this new bill, will provide full funding to law enforcement at both the state and federal level to fight the battle against cybercriminals. The best part of this new bill is the section that will provide funding to the victims for top legal counsel. Right now local District Attorneys operate off limited funds. This new bill will provide full funding for protection.
Internet Safety Tips
Adults as well as teens and children need to take precautions when they are surfing the Internet. Do not give out personal information like vacation times, where you are currently located, and when you are not going to be at home. When visiting social networking communities, be very cautious of whom you accept as a friend, and what picture you place in your profile. You need to understand that everything on the Internet is there forever. Pages and profiles are archived somewhere.