Taskforce: is Facebook being used by sex offenders?

The Federal Government announced a working group to investigate the potential of social networking sites to be used by paedophiles and sex offenders to contact and groom children.

The Federal Government yesterday announced a working group to investigate the potential of social networking sites such as Facebook to be used by paedophiles and sex offenders to contact and groom children.

Communications Minister Helen Coonan said the Consultative Working Group was a logical extension of the Australian Government's $189 million NetAlert - Protecting Australian Families Online programme.

"It is critical that we work together to identify innovative and effective mechanisms to deal with new and emerging dangers online. Industry organisations such as MySpace and Microsoft, and community groups such as Bravehearts are already on the front line," she said in a media statement.

"There is no greater danger online than sex offenders."

The Working Group will report on existing measures and suggest reforms that could assist in providing children with more protection when they use these sites.

The Group will consist of one representative from a number of community, government and business organizations. This includes the Federal Attorney-General's Department, Australian Federal Police, CrimTrac, MySpace, Microsoft, Bravehearts, the Internet Industry Association and the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. In addition, nominees will be sought from State and Territory Attorneys-General and State and Territory Police Ministers.

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