Clinton introducing federal game regulation

Family Entertainment Protection Act would levy fines for M-rated game sales to minors, create annual ESRB review, authorize FTC retailer audits.

When the "Hot Coffee" scandal boiled over this past summer, one of the highest-profile people to weigh in on the controversy was Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Democratic junior US senator from New York, former first lady, and likely 2008 presidential candidate jumped on the media uproar over the hidden sex content in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. In July, she called for a Federal Trade Commission investigation into the game's publisher, Rockstar Games, and for federal oversight of game retailers. However, since Rockstar pulled the game from store shelves after it was re-rated Adults Only, Clinton has remained largely silent on game regulation.

Until today, that is.

This afternoon, Clinton's office announced she has written a bill that would institute federal regulation of game sales. Coauthored by longtime game critic Senator Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), the Family Entertainment Protection Act will be jointly submitted by the two legislators when Congress reconvenes in two weeks.

If made law, the Family Entertainment Protection Act would be a "a prohibition against any business for selling or renting a Mature, Adults-Only, or Ratings Pending game to a person who is younger than seventeen." It would punish violators with unspecified fines, though it did not specify if the clerk who sold the game or the retailer where said clerk worked would be punished. "This provision is not aimed at punishing retailers who act in good faith to enforce the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) system," read a statement from Clinton's office.

While the retail part of the bill is similar to laws recently passed in Michigan, Illinois, and California, the Family Entertainment Protection Act goes much farther. It would authorize "the FTC to conduct an annual, random audit of retailers to determine how easy it is for young people to purchase Mature and Adults Only video games and report the findings to Congress." These findings would be part of a larger annual analysis of ESRB game ratings. "This analysis will help ensure that the ESRB ratings system accurately reflects the content in each game and that the ratings system does not change significantly over time," read Clinton's statement.

The bill would also allow private citizens to file complaints with the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection (BCP) "if they find content to be misleading or deceptive." The BCP would issue an annual report on said complaints to Congress as part of the aforementioned annual review.

As justification for the act, Clinton's office claims that "video game content is getting more and more violent and sexually explicit." It cites the recent 10th Annual MediaWise Video and Computer Game Report Card, issued by the National Institute on Media and the Family, which gave the industry a "D+" and said the ESRB was "beyond repair." Also, the study's secret shopper program found that 42 percent of the time boys under 17 were able to buy M-rated games from retailers, with underage girls succeeding 46 percent of the time.

"A majority of parents are feeling increasingly victimized by a culture of violence that makes it difficult to protect their children against influences they find to be inappropriate," read Clinton's statement. "This bill would help empower parents by putting them back in the driver's seat. It would ensure that children can't buy games the video game industry itself has determined to be inappropriate for them."

Despite the strong language, Clinton underlined the fact the Family Entertainment Protection Act would not directly censor games. "Senator Clinton acknowledges that video games are fun and entertaining and does not support any limitations on the production or sale of games to adults," read the statement. "This is about protecting children," she said.

That said, one aspect of the act will undoubtedly send shivers through the industry. Not only will Section III of the bill give the FTC the authority to investigate misleading ratings, it will actually require the body "to conduct an investigation to determine whether what happened with GTA: San Andreas is a pervasive problem."

An even more ominous-sounding aspect of Section III is how it will empower the FTC to "take appropriate action if [Congress] determines that there is a pervasive problem" with the ESRB's rating system. This means new, federal game ratings that could replace the current system if sufficient fault was found by the FTC.

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Discussion

485 comments
Cloud737
Cloud737

I am. :D This is the only law I found up until now that is the gentlest of them all. Nevertheless, it still sucks.

Duo75
Duo75

Who is up for some an angry mob at the clintons place? Somebody get the torches and ill bring the pitch forks.... In all actuality we shouldnt be worried given that even if this does pass into law it will almost with out a doubt be taken down by the supreme court. how do you spell UNCONSTITUTIONAL. This is cencorship in its infancy.

Nick225
Nick225

god, this sux. time to write your senator.

AznDestoryer2
AznDestoryer2

Look Clinton, find another industry like TV, and Books, i saw in a TV special that a woman who owns a book store says games should be banned and not books, she said she would sell American Psycho to a minor, that has LOTS of violence and sexual content and is a book and she says it is literature. I agree that books are okay, but not very violent/sexual books, They should not allow a minor to buy American Psycho or GTA: SA. Look, that can influnce Johnny to kill a woman naked, not GTA, FOCUS ON THE REAL PROBLEMS.

linktheking
linktheking

So Glad Im An Aussie. I Think Our Rating System Ownz Theres: E: Everyone [Has Little Or No Violence] G: General [Same as above, more realistic] G8+: General (Restricted 8+) [has low-level violence, some realism] M: Mature [Usually Means Around 15 (like 11 and up) not sure completely thoguh, has low-mid viloence, mid horror, some gore etc.] MA15+: Mature Audience (Restricted 15+) [Usually Has High Viloence, Gore, Horror, Adult Themes, Some nudity (Very rarely) etc.] R18+: Restricted (18 and Over) [Pretty Much Wayyy Too Much Nudity, Violence, Coarse Language and Stuff]

343TheFlood
343TheFlood

lol it's the FCC all over again from Family Guy, we are expossed to violence all over the place(the t.v., the radio everything) what are they going to start doing after this censor reality? lol tryign to take a piss and there's this big black box blocking you??? Half of the language we learn is from you politiciens yelling at each other.*cough Canada's Goverment *cough*

reblMAsTErCHEiF
reblMAsTErCHEiF

The thing that make s me angry is that most of the games that are getting the politicains stirred up is that almost all games that no one wants to play anyway (exluding GOW and GTA of course). It seems to me that developers think they can sell their games on nothing but violence and ual content and do not put any effor t into the gameplay and story and all the stuff that really matters. I think that these politicains should look at the sale of these games and see if anyone actually bought them. Sure people may have bought them of an impulse, but im positive that they were immediatley 1. burnt 2. buried 3. sold to someone who doesnt know any better

cmgangrel80
cmgangrel80

When GTA:SA got released over in the UK, it had an 18 Rating (By the British Board of Film Classification which is what also gives the rating out to movies as well). This has been in place now for quite a few years. It was quite amazing at the number of adults who were buying the games for their 12-17 year old children because they had 'Played the previous games'. I was working for a computer games store, and we did warn them aboutt he content of the game. It was actually quite suprising how many of them stopped buying it when they were warned about the content, several of them even thanked us for it. But that does not mean that games shuold be available for sale to underage people. Hell games can even get a 15 rating (not for sale to people under the ages of 15). I feel that this is totally acceptable. BTW the fine in the UK for selling a game (or film) to an underage person is

VampTheStampede
VampTheStampede

I would say more around 3/4 of kids who play these games that AREN'T for minors usually just get them from parents anyways. So I guess it's ok to stop that 1/4...... but they will probably just get the game from their parents as well >_>. Meh whatever as long as this makes Jack Thompson and them to be quiet for a while.

ruelk
ruelk

Rob256700, the real problem isn't really the violence in my opinion, it is the glorifying of delinquent and criminal behaviour. Making gangsters, murderers, cop killers, drug users/seller into heroes. It may not make someone into these things, but I do think that it has a profound influence on the morality of minds that are in the process of developing their morale codes. Can anyone really say that a ten year old doesn't walk away from a game where the hero would be considered a criminal in the real world and it not adjust their perception any? The moral compass of society is based on its culture. Media culture is a large part of this social development. I think that game makers abuse this especially for the point of generating greater profit. GTA could have been a great game without having to play a criminal or delinquent, stealing, robbing, and all the crimes the game and its developers actually encourage you to particpate in. And we, as gamers, are manipulated by them in no different a way then 13 year old girls are with boy bands. The industry is going into the hole, and becoming more hollywood then hollywood. It is about time that a group of people is demanding that someone take ownership of what they do. It is a shame that the game industry doesn't have the morality or maturity to have done it to itself by now.

FilthyYamBag
FilthyYamBag

i have faith that congress will shoot this down, if not i'm gonna get off my ass and do something about it by writing to my congressman (i'm 18 he has to listen) then if thats not enough i'll try higher powers

Rob256700
Rob256700

What is the point in cencoring these things??!! Kids will just want to play them more if they think they are missing out. Any loving sibling should do the honours anyway. (obviously theres a limit, but restricting these things from 16-17 year olds is ridiculous!) All kids need to do is look on the news at the most recent poor bastard which has been bombed and his family members blown to peices. Violence is a part of life unfourtunately. However, millions of people have grown up around and with 'influences' of violent behaviour, ie-horrors films.i am only 18 and i saw the most horrific things in film when i was very young, it didnt make me a psycho, but perhaps it desensitised me to it. The people in charge need to start looking inward if they want to have any effect on how people today are!

nytrospawn
nytrospawn

In most instances its the parents who buy the games. This piece of legislation will do diddly squat to stop parents from being retarded.

tedward0983
tedward0983

I agree with previous postings about parents being victimized. How does a 12 year old kid get money to go buy GTA in the first place? Oh yeah, mommy and daddy. If your going to be stupid enough to not check out what the game is about before forking over 60$ then dont whine when junior is mashing buttons so CJ can get his groove on. It all falls on the parents in this case, they are the ones buying the systems and games, its their responsibility to check out what they are buying for their kids, end of story.

20796893280475556708794709315426-h8td1
20796893280475556708794709315426-h8td1

QUESTION ! With these new actions taking place,what will eventually happen to the games with the strong content.GTA San Andreas with the (M) rating quickly disapeared and was later replaced with the (Ao) rating,But for a while we could'nt find it.I know very few people with a copy of this game that has the (M) rating,if the game industries make games with (Ao) content will we be able to find such a game because stores just pull them off the shelfs.Other then GTA San an I have not really seen a game with the (Ao) rating on it at all.I'm in my 30's and I would like to see a good game with (Ao) content because I'm kinda of sick of the pink and fuzzy kiddy games they keep making.No I'm not a sicko or something looking for some hardcore porn or something,I'm just saying I'm sick of games like kirby and mario while everyone knocks games like the RE series or now GTA series because of the blood and violence towards another human being.I'm not the violent type,I think it's better to hurt someone in the video game then it would be in real life,this shows what could happen to your friend or family and enforces me to think that this should'nt happen to my friend or family making my bond with them even stronger.

xbxjetraider
xbxjetraider

Kids should play games like Mario...This wouldn't be a problem if these soccer moms would admit that they're parents. This ACT would only apply to larger retailers like Walmart, Target, BestBuy, EB Games, etc...small shops wont be noticed... Note: Im refferering to Locations in Urban Areas.

joseph_looper
joseph_looper

The government should not be involved unless the game industry itself is unable to protect minors from objectionable material. If minors want to play games that are for example "Rated M" (for Mature Audiences), then retailers should only be selling these games to adults. Therefore, it is quite reasonable to have federal legislation on regulating the unlawful sale of objectionable materials to minors, such as videogames.

JimD73
JimD73

As stated many times before (haven't read all nine pages), this has happened to movies and everything else before. Ratings were once non-existent, then they became extremely strict, then lax again, then stricter recently, and now somewhere in between. Circle of censorship. It's starting up for video games now. They started relatively lax until the GC/PS2/Xbox era, where they are now becoming stricter. SSBM was rated T with content that was perfectly fine as an K-A game the gen before, Halo was rated M with content no worse than games such as GoldenEye. The ESRB ratings levelled off a little, with the E10+ rating being a great idea, and now Clinton here is spinning the wheel around and chose video games as a scapegoat to build an election stance on. Why not tackle real issues, huh? At the same time, I don't see why anyone here is making a fuss about the bill. It basically changes nothing aside from a fine for selling M games to underage kids. To be completely honest, the restrictions are already strict enough (ten more months before I just don't care anymore) and it is because kids can just ask an older sibling or cousin or friend to buy it for them, or the parents are stupid enough to buy the game for their kids, that this is an issue, and THIS WILL CHANGE NONE OF THAT. I've seen moms buy their kids Vice City while the child is bragging about how violent the game. It is sickening that pure violence sells, as games like GTA and RE are better for other reasons, but it's even more sickening that parents will complain to anyone about this besides themselves. If you don't like the content, DON'T BUY THE GAME. Keep track of what your child plays, and even play the games yourself to see if it really is that harmful. In truth, most M games are not nearly as bad as the average R-rated movie, yet they get the most flak. Parents need to get involved, and I took way too much time to say just that.

hawkeye1944
hawkeye1944

Well i know in Canada, at least where i live that every place i've gone to won't rent/sell games of a mature rating to you unless you are 18 or have a parent with you. To the movie thing, same thing as i worked at a movie theatre, i wouldn't sell you a ticket for a rate-R movie unless you are 18...not saying that i didn't sell tickets to people under 18 either, because i have, usually friends. It depends on the person selling it. Actually there is a new movie rating around here at least. 18a and 18r...i actually can't remember the difference in letters since i quit working there for a long time, one rating you either have to be 18 to see the movie or have a parent with you, the other you HAVE to be 18 or older to see REGARDLESS of whether your parent is with you...saw one manager kick out a lady and her kids...they shouldn't have been sold the tickets however....well thats why we double check on rated-R movies. I live in Canada so i don't see how this bill will effect me unless we decide to do the same thing.

jono128
jono128

It is likely this bill will not go into effect. So I've read; no one has said that this bill will likely get passed. I'm doing a whole research paper on this topic--pretty interesting stuff.

ruelk
ruelk

Actually, children are not naturalized (made a citizen) and don't have alot of rights, such as the right to vote, to hold public office, the right to bear arms, the right to drink, the right to smoke, the right to buy porn. They can't do a great many things by law. Basically, a child doesn't have the same rights an adult has because the law doesn't believe a child can make well-informed, educated, or rational decisions.

gamer_the_best
gamer_the_best

Great to be a canadian. But it would really suck if the same thing happened here.

iamsouledge
iamsouledge

My freaking god....I believe it's amendment 14 says that's UNCONSTITUTIONAL, that ALL citizens "born and naturalized in the United States" have "equal rights and protection of the law." CHILDREN HAVE RIGHTS! YOU HEAR THAT HILLARY YOU *****?

ruelk
ruelk

I know I am in the minority here but the simple truth is this: This proposal does not plan on censoring games. The only thing being done is that retailers are being held accountable for selling inappropriate material to kids. How does this hurt gamers? You wouldn't want the guy at 7-11 selling your ten year old son a hustler mag would you? There is no dark cloud of oppression coming folks. The proposal simply gives parents the actual power to have some control over some of the media their kids have access to, which is within the rights of the parents and should be supported by the government. This won't stop M-rated games from being made, or hurt their sales. It won't mean that an 18 year old adult can't buy a game rated for adults only. The truth is that this only affects kids who planned on getting games their parents didn't want them to have anyways. So why all the wining about it? If a kid wants a rated M game and their parents are fine with it then no big deal, mom or dad goes down and gets it. So stand up and shout if it makes you feel better, but the truth is that if you could have gotten the game because you are of age, or you didn't have to sneak it past your parents, then it doesn't hurt you one single bit.

General__bob
General__bob

If hilliary is elected president im moving to japan

ff7cloudking
ff7cloudking

If Hillary is elected president... the whole gaming community here in the US is going straight to hell. And I agree with the person that said that Hillary should stop kids from watching internet porn rather than worry about games.

ff7cloudking
ff7cloudking

She's blaming the retailers and game-makers!!! WTF!!! Anyone who isn't stupid knows that its not the retailers fault for letting kids buy and rent these, its the parents!!! The ones who can't take it when their whiny little kid doesn't get his flippin way!! F'n Democrats.

mathwizard13
mathwizard13

Ugh, this is complete crap. She is uninformed and just trying to get votes. Next thing you know they will be having cencsored versions of games where the parent will obviously make the kid buy the cencsored version which makes the quality crap. When was the last time you laughed as hard as you did at a comedy movie when it was on TV stations cencsored vs the uncsencored version. This will definatly take the industry a step back. Why the hell can't they keep their faces out of it. The ESRB is fine. They will also next be trying to inforce it inpossible for osmebody below the age of 13 to buy teen games. Ugh, this makes me mad.

Vortexx
Vortexx

Okay look... I myself am a minor. I LOVE PLAYING M RATED GAMES. I CAN PLAY THEM ALL DAY LONG IF I WANT TO! And ya know what, they have NOT perverted my mind. I'm not going to get a gun and shoot everyone. I am not tainted. WTF? Do they even know what they are doing? I understand the importance of adult consent. IE: I go to a store. Ooh look, FEAR. I buy it. My parents are there. So I am good to go. See government people? PERENTAL CONSENT! It works. I know I can't play San Andreas, that's fine, I don't care. But if you're going to make a big deal out of the situation, that is WRONG. It is proven that by playing violent games, we (minors etc.) will be far less likely to enact violent crimes in life. They let us relieve ourselves. You people have it ass backwards. Without games, there would be more violence. Okay? Now, I know that it would not be a good thing for a little kid to be playing games like Quake 4, but there is no need for regulation. Parents are concious of what is in games. The important part is that we are now doing fine, but with this, you will be acting as a unwanted parent unit, which is not right. Do you always have to go in and create such an uproar, that in the process you make things worse? The reason most of us are in the US is for what we wanted, and got, way back in the 1700's... FREEDOM. Don't take it away from us. You really need to actually look at the people before making adverse decisions which make huge, and nagative, impacts upon us. Do what's right. Don't hurt our country.

Cabface04
Cabface04

This bugs me beyond belief. By putting a limit on who can buy iy is as if they're comparing Video Games, A VIRTUAL WORLD, to tobacco or Alcohol, the only things with age restrictions on who can buy them. Those things have a reason they're age restricted, they cause bodily harm, and even more so to younger people. So if my logic is correct, according to mrs. clinton, by playing a video prior to age 17, you are putting yourself in harms way and putting yourself in danger of disease. Interesting.

liquidgld9
liquidgld9

It wood be nice, wayofthesauce, if politicians actually listened. She doesnt care about anything she claims to, she is like all other politicians just looking for the best way to get higher on the political ladder(president nominee one day? it would be a sad sad day should she be elected) and if it means destroying something that doesnt affect her, so be it. I agree that young kids do not need to be playing these games, but that doesnt mean the govt needs to start restricting games. If this passes, it COULD start the trail for even more regulation, and of course the inevidable ignoring of parental responsibility. Anyway....had anyone write the letter like you said, i could only imagine a reply being that similar to a jack thompson reply, only worded much better claiming those enraged by her proposal are, in short ignorant. That, or she will shrug it off with a generic "Your input is appreciated. I have read your letter and have taken to heart what you said. bla bla bla"

wayofthesauce
wayofthesauce

I think we've officially ripped this bill apart 10 times over. If someone who lives in New York would be so kind as to contact Mrs. Clinton as a resident of New York and present some of these posts from thos ewho will be directly affected by said bll then maybe if a miracle happens she'll rethink the bill and change it. As has been said by the more intelligent ones, having regulations on the industry is needed as we definitely don't want young kids playing GTA. However, this bill is again targeted at the ones not at fault, the retailers. And since the parents are too lazy to get off their fat asses and do some parenting those not at fault and those of us who can tell the difference between reality and virtual reality suffer greatly for the crimes of a few. God I love our justice system, as long as you can point a finger you can chage the nation. And maybe this has been mentioned before, but most copies of these M-rated games are purchased quite legally it's just that no one bothers to look at the giant M in the corner of the box. Or look at why the game is rated what it is and judge it based on that. When I was growing up probably, around 10 or so I could play games like Diablo and doom because they had some blood and violence but didn't have strong sexual themes or ndity and what I was killing was more along the lines of demons and devils instead of normal people like in say GTA.

Iblasen
Iblasen

How many impressionable young people playing San Andreas know how to find a hack to unlock the "hidden content"? Other than that i think all the points have already been made thousands of times over.

Yu_Poozuki
Yu_Poozuki

The return of Hitler Rodram Clinton, I'm she has nothing better to do.

VanHalun040604
VanHalun040604

Sounds fine to me. If you're too young, too bad. It's no different than porn, alcohol, or cigarettes. And that doubly means that if you want it bad enough, you'll find a way. My parents never cared either way. I'm 18 now so it really doesn't matter. People are acting as if the game industry is shutting down or something. Movies have ratings, so do games. And until now the game ratings were under-enforced. Now, like movies, games are seeing heavy regulation. I can't see anything wrong with this....

gameruler8721
gameruler8721

This law is a good idea on paper but will not work in real life or will just be ignored. Come on we have the internet and if some one realy wanted to get a copy of Halo2 ( which is not even that bloody and has little sex) they could. On top of that I know the people at my local game store and if I put a copy of Halo 2, Half Life 2 or even Ninja Gidan they would just ask "Is this ok with your parents". Come on people and to top this intire little dipate off are two facts. 1. They are not going to start a massive political strife over this so they won't secsor games. 2. I saw a ten year old playing Resident Evil 4 and laphing so all you stupid people who buy that !@#$% for your kids without checking the rating need this act. BUT NOT BEFORE YOU GET SOME BRAINS IN YOUR HEAD SO YOU CAN SPEAK CLEARLY.

Iffy350
Iffy350

"Canadian" They baned Soldier of Fortune I and II in Canada! It won't/can't be that strict! All i have to say is, sucks to be under seventeen which im over nineteen! :-P

Matth13
Matth13

none of this would be happening if Rockstar hadn't put in that Hot Coffee scene. don't get me wrong, I absolutlely love the game, but they screwed up and let it slide thru and now we all might have to pay the price (in the US at least)!

remmbermytitans
remmbermytitans

what i want to know is.... have they played any of these games? its like spinach, you cant say its bad, unless you've tried it, and we actually voted for these people to represent us? i dont see ANY parents complaining.... with the exception of the parents of the two teens that killed the cops, because they played San Andreas. But how is it Rockstar's fault? the police should be going after the parents or the retailers, and not the minors, not only BECAUSE they are minors, but because the PARENTS should know if they were playing this game or not, cause if they didnt that just shows poor parenting.... plus, if those kids lets say did something else, wouldn't the cops go after the parents as well? hows this any different?

warpuke
warpuke

Gee, I wonder if this is going to make kids under 17 just download them off P2P? ... So therefore the kids get the games anyways, and the developers lose money. Good plan Clinton!!!

LinkMaster7
LinkMaster7

This is pointless, parents know what they're getting themselves into when they buy their kids these games, and it shouldnt cause such a big arguement when theres really nothing to argue about. Clinton should keep her nose out of this and stick to regular politics, because she has no right to mess with one of the few things that kids get to do without serious consequences

cichy69
cichy69

if some parent dont want their children to play "M-rated" games or whatever.. they should teach them not do play such games... if the kid is realy eager to play some M rated game.. he'll surely find the way around by asking some older friend to buy it for them or whatever... Now we got politicians making some frinkin laws that supposed to stop kids from playing M rated games... does ANYone think that is going to stop them from playing M rated games?? ... i dont think so... same with the "R" rated movies like porn for example :P .. just tell me.. did that stopped younger people from watching such movies? i bet theres no one in here that watched their first porn while being 21 or older :)

Grimcicle
Grimcicle

Meh, I'm well over the age of 17, and I don't even live in the U.S., so either way, this doesn't affect me. Regardless, I'm not against this. Similar laws have been enforced in the film industry for years, why should games be any different?

b0b117
b0b117

I'm all for this, I do not believe that anyone under the age of 18 should be able to consume this level of violence and or sexual or mature content. Finally perhaps adults will be free to enjoy the adult only level of content that the industery is so terrified of producing because Johnny PIss-Ant Teen won't be able to get his ill informed and uncaring parents to buy him. Personally as an Xbox Live user I've had my fill of uppity underage snot nosed punks and their childish behavior. If anything this isn't something to cry over but something for adults to celebrate.

Recharger
Recharger

Wow, are tax dollars are in the hands of complete morons. I have a great idea no more rated R movies because kinds are able to watch them and, lets get ride of violence in comics while were at it. How about, they read the constitution freedom a speech seems they don't like their own laws. Idiots