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Indian to secure US's most popular teen website

Reputed lawyer Hemanshu Nigam will deal with the growing menace of porn on MySpace, reports S Rajagopalan.

india Updated: Apr 17, 2006 12:43 IST

MySpace, US’s most popular social network site for teenagers, will soon have an Indian American online safety czar to deal with a growing menace of porn and sexual predators that has alarmed parents and law enforcement officials.

Hemanshu Nigam, a corporate attorney of repute with Microsoft, has been handpicked to shore up the safety of a site that boasts of 70 million members and ranks second only to Yahoo in terms of page views.

Nigam’s induction to police the site, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Interactive Media, comes close on the heels of a series of incidents in which sexual predators used personal information and profiles posted on MySpace to track down and molest teens.

“One in five kids online is sexually solicited. Online predators know what they’re doing. Do you?,” reads one of the new public service ads now being put out by MySpace.

Among recent incidents, a 22-year-old man has been charged with raping a 15-year-old girl in Westford, Massachusetts. He had met the girl on MySpace. In Honolulu, a 29-year-old man assaulted a 15-year-old he met on the same site last month.  Similar charges are faced by an older man in Abernathy, Texas.

Nigam, as the first-ever chief security officer, will be the point man for MySpace’s safety, education, privacy and law enforcement programmes. A graduate from the Boston School of Law, Nigam has been a federal prosecutor with the US Department of Justice dealing with Internet child exploitation. He has also been an adviser to a Congressional commission on online child safety and to the White House on cyberstalking.

“Hemanshu is a proven leader in online safety and security. We are fortunate to have him in MySpace, helping educate the public and protect our members’ safety and privacy,” said Chris De Wolfe, CEO of MySpace, a hip site that flaunts itself as the premier lifestyle portal for connection with friends and discovering popular culture.

The “connected community” has been created by integrating web profiles, blogs, instant messaging, e-mail, musical streaming and videos, photo galleries and classified listings of events and groups.