Legislators Propose Online Safety Education Act

Legislation would set aside $35 million in annual grant money for the endeavor

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

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) 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 them to state and local education agencies, schools, nonprofits or some combination thereof.

The grants would include developing media campaigns to promote awareness of online risks, as well as online 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," said NCTA President Kyle McSlarrow 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."
NCTA's support includes launching its own online safety initiative, PointSmart.ClickSafe, in 2007.