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December 17, 2005

National Game Ban on Sales to Minors Introduced in the Senate

Senators Hillary Rodhan Clinton (D-NY), Joe Lieberman (D-CT), and Evan Bayh (D-IN) introduced a bill on Friday that restricts the sale or rental of games rated M to minors.  Various states have introduced similar legislation but all court challenges have been successful in striking down these laws on First Amendment grounds.  The most recent law declared unconstitutional was in Illinois. The sponsors say the law is constitutional as it only regulates the access to games rated M, much as access to alcohol, tobacco, and pornography.

The bill includes these provisions:

  • Prohibits any business from selling or renting a Mature, Adults-Only, or Ratings Pending game to a person who is younger than seventeen.
  • On-site store managers would be subject to a fine of $1,000 or 100 hours of community service for the first offense; $5,000 or 500 hours of community service for each subsequent offense.
  • Requires an annual, independent analysis of game ratings.
  • Requires the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to conduct an investigation to determine whether hidden content like in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a pervasive problem and take appropriate action.
  • Ensures that consumers have a mechanism to file complaints with the FTC and that the FTC will report these complaints to Congress.
  • Authorizes the FTC to conduct an annual, random audit of retailers to monitor enforcement and report the findings to Congress.

The bill, the Family Entertainment Protection Act, assumes the video game industry will continue rating the appropriateness of games for minors.  More on this from Senator Clinton's web site.

December 17, 2005 | Permalink


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This issue raises hairs on both sides of the gaming issue. Gamers feel like these bills demonize the industry; family groups think these bills do a good job of protecting gamers rights. All these bill have a lot of work to do to pass constitutional challenges, but I think the idea behind them is pretty sound.

Anyway, there is a lot of pro and con talk about this law at http://www.commonsenseblog.org

Posted by: Sanchez | Dec 19, 2005 9:32:44 AM

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