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Do children need more protection when they are online?

Social networking sites are being urged to introduce age verification software by US regulators to protect children but how worried are the public about kids using the internet? Here you can see a short video on what people think about children surfing the web and whether they would like to see any changes.

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Facebook agreed to introduce stricter child safety warnings after agreeing a settlement with Andrew Cuomo, New York attorney general, following a subpoena in September which said Facebook misled users by promoting itself as a safe place for children from sex attackers.

Cuomo said the new measures adopted by Facebook would create a "new model" for other social networking websites to follow in tackling internet sex crime. Facebook will now state that it cannot guarantee the safety of users and will set up a process where users can report sexually inappropriate conduct, which it must respond to within 24 hours.

In addition, US legal authorities have been holding high-level meetings with My Space's parent company News Corporation, to discuss introducing an independently monitored age verification system to stop sexual predators targeting minors on the site.

The US currently has 11 states signed up to a coalition to tackle sex crime occurring on social networking sites, which have been implicated in a growing number of abduction and paedophilia cases in the last year.

Earlier this month the advertising industry began preparing to fight to preserve self-regulation for online advertising, after the UK government launched a review into whether the internet harms children. In a consultation paper ministers asked "What roles do the retail and advertising sectors play in child safety online? For example, how is the internet and means of accessing it marketed and sold to children and young people, and what roles does online advertising play?"

The inquiry, headed by clinical psychologist and TV parenting expert Tanya Byron, is expected to shine a light on the advertising industry's existing code of practice, which covers pop-ups, banners and other paid-for space, but does not apply to editorial content.

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