MySpace hosting 29,000 sex offenders

News Corp.'s popular MySpace.com social networking site hosted Web pages for at least 29,000 known sex offenders as of July 2007, North Carolina's Attorney General said Tuesday.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper's office said in a statement that based on MySpace's own estimates, the number of registered sex offenders with MySpace pages under their own names was four times more than the company's previous estimate.

Cooper is proposing that North Carolina pass legislation to ban registered sex offenders from using social networking sites that allow minors, and strengthening other anti-child pornography and criminal penalties for Internet solicitation of minors and children for sex. The proposal also suggests that social networking sites' underage users be required to get parental permission before registering and posting personal information.

Young people have been the early adopters and most avid users of social networking sites, making them targets for sexual predators.

MySpace said it would provide sex offender data to state attorneys general in late May, after first saying it would not make such disclosures. Cooper did not say when MySpace had provided the data.

The site has come under attack not only for the risque content posted by some of its members, but by allegedly providing a venue for sexual predators targeting children. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal estimated in May that at least 5,000 sex offenders were registered for MySpace using their own names, with an unknown number using false identities.

Blumenthal and Cooper have been the most vocal attorneys general in linking MySpace and sexual predation.

Last year, North Carolina's State Bureau of Investigation arrested a police officer for the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl he lured using MySpace, Cooper's office said.

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