Senate Dems Will 'Empower Parents' on Video Game Sales

Susan Jones | Senior Editor | Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Senate Dems Will 'Empower Parents' on Video Game Sales

(CNSNews.com) - Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) plan to introduce legislation that will "empower parents" by restricting sales of violent and pornographic video games to kids.

Sen. Clinton said she and Lieberman will introduce the Family Entertainment Protection Act when Congress reconvenes in two weeks.

In a message on her website, Sen. Clinton acknowledges that video games are fun and entertaining and said she does not support any limitations on the production or sale of games to adults. "This is about protecting children," she said.

"There is a growing body of evidence that points to a link between violent videos and aggressive behavior in children," Sen. Lieberman said. "We are not interested in censoring videos meant for adult entertainment but we do want to ensure that these videos are not purchased by minors. Our bill will help accomplish this by imposing fines on those retailers that sell M-rated games to minors."

The senators noted that Illinois, Michigan, and California have passed state laws to prohibit the sale of violent video games to minors.

The senators announced their impending legislation on Tuesday, the same day that the National Institute on Media and the Family released its annual video and computer game scorecard, showing that retailers have become even more lenient in selling "mature" material to children.

Boys as young as nine were able to purchase mature-rated video games 42 percent of the time, according to the group's secret audits.

"Today's report is yet further proof that we need to make sure parents have the tools and support they need to make informed decisions for their children," Sen. Clinton said.

The Family Entertainment Protection Act would prohibit any business from selling or renting a Mature, Adults-Only, or Ratings Pending game to a person who is younger than seventeen. ("This provision is not aimed at punishing retailers who act in good faith," the bill's summary says.)

The bill also requires an annual, independent analysis of game ratings, to make sure the industry is rating games appropriately; it would authorize the Federal Trade Commission to investigate "misleading" ratings; it sets up a system for consumers to file complaints if they find a video game's content to be misleading or deceptive; and it authorizes the FTC to conduct an annual, random audit of retailers to see how easy it is for young people to purchase Mature and Adults Only video games and report the findings to Congress.

Senator Clinton says she was motivated to take action on the video game issue in July, after learnign that Rockstar Games had embedded illicit sexual content in the video game "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas." (Rockstar subsequently recalled the game.)

At that time, Sen. Clinton called on the FTC to investigate, and she announced that she would develop legislation to address the problem.
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