The FBI estimates computer crime losses at up to $10 billion in 1999, and the year 2000 saw crippling attacks on top sites like Yahoo and eBay, not to mention $8 million in damage when the "I Love You" virus crippled personal and corporate computer systems.

Attempting to curb future outrages, and to raise a generation of Web-savvy users, the United States Department of Justice and the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) have formed a partnership to educate Americans in the virtues of responsible online behavior.

"This is a first-of-its kind government/private-sector initiative to help kids realize that the rules of the road in the offline world also apply in the online world," says Harris N. Miller, ITAA president.

"As the Internet becomes more important to our daily lives, this initiative will help kids make informed decisions about online behavior."

Harlan Jones, a professor of media studies and theology at Xavier University's Clyburn College in Cincinnati, says he believes the Justice Department's willingness to admit that kids need a moral compass indicates the depth and scope of the department's Internet concerns.

"I don't believe the government would attempt to teach kids about right and wrong unless they were afraid that this was going to be an even bigger problem in the future," Jones said.

"Lots of kids know how to use computers better than adults, so even many Christian parents might not feel equipped to instruct their children on appropriate uses of technologies."

The Cybercitizen Partnership Awareness Campaign (cybercitizenpartners.org) seeks to engage children, young adults, and their parents and teachers on the ethical use of the Internet and the limits of acceptable online behavior.

The Awareness ...

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