Calif. Legislator Seeks Study Of Internet Violence, Access Limits

A state assemblyman asked California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to create a task force on violent and inappropriate Internet content.
Citing the suicide of a Missouri teen, a California murder, and the videotaped beating of a Florida teen after MySpace taunts and a YouTube "hit list," a California legislator wants social networking sites to limit access by children and to fight violent, criminal, and inappropriate content.

State Assemblyman Pedro Nava announced a resolution this week requesting that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger create a task force on violent and inappropriate Internet content.

"The Internet and the growth of social networking Web sites have brought immeasurable benefits to our country and the world," said Nava, who chairs the California Assembly's Joint Committee on Emergency Services and Homeland Security, in a statement. "However, when the Internet is used as a tool to spread violent, graphic, and criminal content that children can access, it is unacceptable and should not be tolerated."

Nava said he wants California to set a national example and raise awareness. He cited the case of Megan Meier, a Missouri teen who hanged herself after her friend's mother allegedly posed as a young boy with a romantic interest, then "dumped" her, saying the world would be a better place without her.

Nava gave that as one of three recent examples showing the disastrous consequences of failing to restrict content. His second example was the videotaped beating of a Florida teenager in April by a group of girls who planned to upload the video to the Internet. Nava's third example of the extreme effects of cyberbullying and violent content stems from a case in his own state.

In March, a California youth was murdered after someone posted a video hit list on YouTube. The video was not removed until a Monterey County Herald reporter wrote a story about the murder and contacted YouTube, Nava said.

"As a society we have to ask ourselves how many more victims will it take before we say enough is enough and that we must take collective action to stop this scourge," he said.