State Laws/Franchising

Lawmakers Would Set Aside $35M for Web-Safety Grants

5/13/2009 6:13 PM Eastern

A pair of Democratic lawmakers have proposed legislation
that would set aside $35 million in annual grant money for online safety
education.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman
Schultz (D-Fla.) are proposing the School and Family Education about the
Internet (SAFE Internet) Act, which has not
yet been introduced.

It would set up a grant program to first fund research into
the best way to educate and set up guidelines for the grants, then award the money
to state and local education agencies, schools, non-profit agencies or some
combination thereof.

The grants would include developing media campaigns to
promote awareness of online risks, as well as initiatives, lesson plans and
research into online risks.

Education efforts would target not only kids and youth but
their parents and teachers as well.

A spokesperson for Wasserman Schultz could not provide a
timetable for when the bill would be introduced.

The effort got a shout-out from the National Cable & Telecommunications
Association, which said it supported the legislation and urged Congress to do
the same. "We applaud Senator Menendez and Representative Wasserman Schultz for
their commitment to ensuring and enhancing Internet safety for children and
families," NCTA president Kyle McSlarrow said in a statement. "We have long
supported programs that improve online safety and increase Internet and digital
literacy, and we agree that digital literacy education in our nation's schools
can play a valuable role in achieving these objectives."

The NCTA's support includes launching its own online-safety
initiative, "PointSmart. ClickSafe,"
in 2007.

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