House approves '.kids' domain to control content

By a vote of 406 to 2, the House of Representatives has approved a bill that would establish a kid-friendly internet zone within the '.us' top-level domain.

The Dot-Kids Implementation and Efficiency Act 2002, sponsored by John Shimkus (R-IL), would require all websites with a '.kids.us' address to certify that they contain no sexually explicit content, no hate speech, and no violence or other material unsuitable for children 12 years of age or younger. Such websites would be prohibited from linking to other sites or running chatrooms unless they could certify that they are paedophile-free.

The bill would award control of the 'kids.us' sub-domain to NeuStar, which also has the contract to manage the '.us' top-level domain (see NeuStar criticized for management of '.us' public launch). NeuStar would supervise websites' compliance with the bill's restrictions and be answerable to the US Department of Commerce.

Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) has said he intends to introduce a similar bill in the Senate, attempting to enforce web content restrictions by contract rather than civil and criminal penalties as with prior legislative attempts (eg, the Child Pornography Prevention Act and the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act).

Douglas Wood and Linda Goldstein, Hall Dickler Kent Goldstein & Wood LLP, New York

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