The heat has suddenly been turned up with respect to video game legislation in the United States Senators Hilary Clinton and Joe Lieberman have written a federal bill (the "Family Entertainment Protection Act") which they will submit to Congress in the near future.
FEPA prohibits any business from selling or renting an M, AO or Ratings Pending game to a person younger than 17. Violations will result in unspecified fines. The bill also authorizes the FTC to conduct annual random audits of retailers to determine how easy it is for individuals under 17 to buy M and AO games, and to report to Congress (we wonder whether there is a similar system in place for movies?). These audits will be part of an annual analysis of the ESRB ratings. There is also a mechanism for private citizens to file complaints with the FTC if they find video game contents to be 'misleading or deceptive"?.
The justifications for the bill have all been said before video games are getting more violent and sexually explicit, and parents feel increasingly powerless to protect their children from inappropriate influences. It will certainly be interesting to see how the bill is treated once it is introduced in Congress, and whether it will be subject to the same challenges that similar state-level laws have faced.