New Bill Would Force MySpace Age Check

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Yesterday a guy was sentenced to prison for 14 years for using MySpace.com to set up a sexual encounter with an 11-year-old Connecticut girl. Today Connecticut lawmakers introduced a new bill that would require MySpace.com and other social-networking sites to verify users' ages and obtain parental consent before minors can post profiles.

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Under the proposal, any networking site that fails to verify ages and obtain parental permission of users under 18 would face civil fines up to $5,000 per violation. Sites would have to check information about parents to make sure it is legitimate. Parents would be contacted directly when necessary.

Currently MySpace relies on users to specify their ages.

I don't see anything in the AP article which specifies how age verification will actually need to be done though....

Comments

How would this relate to the

How would this relate to the COPPA system often built into forum software?

Not that I'm against the

Not that I'm against the intent of the bill. I think the intention is great.

My question. How would any on-line company like MySpace actually verify the age of someone?

COPPA anyone?

Isn't that exactly what the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act was all about?

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/buspubs/coppa.htm

The civil penalties are already at up to $11,000.00 per violation.

The only thing this does is gives another agency permission to enforce what the FTC is not already enforcing. The FTC would probably act if anybody actually bothered to send them a complaint. They are one of very few government agencies that do a good job of acting quickly when they are notified of a problem.

Chris Hanson's world just got a little bit more dim..

Love to see taxpayer dollars funding this bit of legislative masturbation. If a parent can't, won't, or refuses to take responsibility for their child's online activity, then maybe that child shouldn't be using a computer that can connect to the Internet.

>>If a parent can't, won't,

>>If a parent can't, won't, or refuses to take responsibility...

Not the child's fault their parents are wankers is it?

> Not the child's fault

> Not the child's fault their parents are wankers is it?

Very true, but it's not MySpace's fault either. Sure, any networking site has some level of responsibiliy in this but they shouldn't have to take all the blame.

That's kind of like fining brewers because kids are caught drinking their drinks. Yes, there is a social responsibility issue in terms of not marketing to kids, but at the end of the day, moral guidance needs to come from their parents.

I agree with Connie that it is great in terms of intentions, but in practicallity it might not be so good.

At the very least, social networking sites should have comprehensive information about safe surfing, but that seriously needs to be reinforced by offline role models such as parents and schools.

>>That's kind of like fining

>>That's kind of like fining brewers because kids are caught drinking their drinks

I'd say it's more like fining the pub.

I see the difficulties with online verification, but I don't see it's impossible for a parent to have to sign their child up. That might make them think twice about what they are doing.

For those supporting it, do

For those supporting it, do you realize that the Internet stretches outside the confines of the US? That all this would do is hamstring US based companies and a) benefit foreign based companies who have politicians that have some clue of the Internet b) force US companies to move offshore. The website in Denmark doesn't give a crap how old some kid from Boston is.

Can you fathom having to card everyone who walks into a shopping mall? Of course not, it's absurd. This law is essentially doing that. There is no way they could put all that age checking in place and stay in business. Not to mention what this would do to smaller sites that don't have billions of dollars behind them. Read their definition of social networking, it can include every forum, chat software, blog, and community site on the web. Heck, Threadwatch would fall under that realm and be required to verify every member as being over 18 or having parental permission.

But shock value wins, and hearing one of the Myspace stories on the news pulls at everyone's heart strings. No one mentions that they have tens of millions of users who don't have problems on it. No one mentions that child predators were around long before Myspace went live. No one mentions that more children will die from heat stroke this year during youth sports than from Myspace. But it's much easier to ban Myspace then to tell kids they can't play football or be out in the sun.

I'd say it's more like

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I'd say it's more like fining the pub.

How can you draw that comparison? A pub is selling something that is illegal to minors. By providing a child with liquor, you are breaking the law. Providing a child with a place to talk with friends from their own home is not illegal.

It would be like you meeting someone on Threadwatch who could provide some type of work for you. You get ripped off and then hold Threadwatch responsible for allowing people to talk with one another on the site and open the door for potentially bad business transactions.

I know it would cost money

But it would probably stop a lot of online social website crime (in Connecticut).

Connecticut can fine overseas companies just like Brazil fined Google for Orcut. Of course they probably won't get the money, but they are free to IP block those sites from state residents if they don't get paid.

I bit of a handful, yes, but if the state wants to do it I don't see anything sinister about it. It just means they'll deny residents from useful internet services and they'll probably be poor :)

But it would probably stop a

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But it would probably stop a lot of online social website crime (in Connecticut).

Do you really feel online social website crime is an epidemic? More kids will be assaulted by kids they meet in school than on any social website. Are we going to ban school?

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Connecticut can fine overseas companies just like Brazil fined Google for Orcut. Of course they probably won't get the money, but they are free to IP block those sites from state residents if they don't get paid.

While the fines will be laughed at in most countries, blocking their site is what China would do. I'd hope our country is above that kind of censorship.

The comparison

with pubs is missing the mark a bit. The problem isn't the pub, nor the age of the drinker; the problem is the predator looking to slip the ruffie in the drink. Neither the pub or MySpace can determine who the possible predators are that enter their respective establishments.

>>Do you really feel online

>>Do you really feel online social website crime is an epidemic? More kids will be assaulted by kids they meet in school than on any social website. Are we going to ban school?

I don't know about schools. They have teachers and supervisors. Myspace doesn't. That's a separate discussion.

>>with pubs is missing the mark a bit. The problem isn't the pub, nor the age of the drinker; the problem is the predator looking to slip the ruffie in the drink.

If you are 18 you take the chance yourself as a free willed adult. Until you are 18 you legally have to enter a pub with an adult supervisor (at least in the UK). I think the analogy is pretty sound.

I don't know about schools.

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I don't know about schools. They have teachers and supervisors. Myspace doesn't. That's a separate discussion.

There is more violence in school than on Myspace which makes the teachers and supervisors point moot. How can you ban Myspace which is less dangerous than school?

>>There is more violence in

>>There is more violence in school than on Myspace which makes the teachers and supervisors point moot. How can you ban Myspace which is less dangerous than school?

I don't understand your point. Why send people to jail for shoplifting when some murderers get away scott free?

The 2 points are mutually exclusive.

I don't understand your

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I don't understand your point. Why send people to jail for shoplifting when some murderers get away scott free?

I'm saying that killing social networking sites is a huge consequence for something that is very safe. Myspace has millions and millions of kids who use their service daily, yet only a very small percent ever have problems.

Playing on Myspace is one of the safest activities a child can do these days. Much safer than attending school, riding in a car, or even playing sports. So why are you willing to drastically alter the net, destroy US webmasters, all for a very small percent of problems that would probably happen anyways through some other medium.

>> I'm saying that

>> I'm saying that killing social networking sites is a huge consequence for something that is very safe

It's only in Connecticut after all :) and besides they'd be killing the companies that do not comply. Not myspace.

We do work for some sex dating company and every profile has to be checked to make sure there is nothing in there about pedophilia etc. It doesn't cost much at all and they have 10s of thousands of users. Compared to Myspace's estimated market capitalization profile verification is really a drop in the ocean.

>>Playing on Myspace is one of the safest activities a child can do these days.

You are probably right. It would be an interesting pilot project in any case. And if you are right the statistics will prove it and the law will not be followed in other states.

It's only in Connecticut

Quote:
It's only in Connecticut after all :) and besides they'd be killing the companies that do not comply. Not myspace.

Well the law has been talked about and maybe proposed on a federal level. They have talked about banning it in public places like schools, libraries, etc. So I'm sure it's just a matter of time before we see something in Congress soon.

Pictures is much different than verifying age. There are two ways to verify age. Credit card and Drivers License. Since the DL would be a huge identity theft concern and expensive to verify, I'll assume CC is the way most sites go. Do you really want to give your credit card up everytime you want to sign up for a forum? Everytime you want to create an instant messenger or e-mail account? Heck, everytime you want to make a comment on a blog. I wouldn't trust having so many sites with my credit card information on file. I would imagine that credit card fraud would go through the roof and phishing schemes would be at an all-time high.

This doesn't take into account what small forums would have to do to survive. They would have to find ways to verify credit cards which would mean a merchant account of some sort. Would a site like Threadwatch really find it worth the effort to verify every member through a credit card? Just seems like it would be a quick way to wipe out small niche forums, comments in blogs, and all chat/e-mail for kids under 18.

It would be an utter disaster.

It kind of makes you realize

It kind of makes you realize the net is missing an easy way to identify people doesn't it?

Someone will get rich with that one. It's an obvious billion $ idea.

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