TPW 22: The Pitfalls of Age Verification

by on July 27, 2007 · 16 comments


TLF contributors Adam Thierer and Braden Cox traveled to North Carolina this week to testify in opposition to age verification and parental consent regulations for social networking sites. The North Carolina legislation would require parents to provide proof that they were adults in order to approve their children’s use of social networking sites.

In this week’s podcast, we discuss the many flaws in such proposals. Age verification technologies are far from reliable, and the definition of a “social networking site” is far from clear. More fundamentally, it’s not clear how this proposal would protect children at all. There’s no way to prevent a child molester from registering as an adult and then creating accounts for their fictitious children. Braden and Adam make the case that parental involvement, not more government regulation, is the best way to protect children.

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  • http://www.netfamilynews.org Anne Collier

    Thanks for this podcast, guys. I appreciated a number of points, particularly the one about how imposing some sort of age verification regime would create a vast black market in fake IDs for the simple reason that teens find workarounds. MySpace itself was a workaround, a way to socialize with friends beyond parental supervision at a time when kids are highly scheduled and tracked by pretty protective adults. Impose that supervision on MySpace, and kids – as I think Adam said – go offshore. Or any of hundreds of social sites based in this country which haven’t been picked up on or targeted by the attorneys general. Or create their own social-networking site at Ning.com! I’m sure Ning isn’t in the NC legislation; it’s too new, yet the social-site creation and hosting company recently claimed something like 15,000 homemade social-networking sites on its servers. But pretty soon every commercial Web site and even corporate intranets are going to have social-networking features, it seems. Cisco even bought a social-networking developer to fold into its mix of services to other large corporations, and it’s not alone. Which points out the absurdity of locking into law the definition of a rapidly moving target! Strange times we live in.

  • http://www.netfamilynews.org Anne Collier

    Thanks for this podcast, guys. I appreciated a number of points, particularly the one about how imposing some sort of age verification regime would create a vast black market in fake IDs for the simple reason that teens find workarounds. MySpace itself was a workaround, a way to socialize with friends beyond parental supervision at a time when kids are highly scheduled and tracked by pretty protective adults. Impose that supervision on MySpace, and kids – as I think Adam said – go offshore. Or any of hundreds of social sites based in this country which haven’t been picked up on or targeted by the attorneys general. Or create their own social-networking site at Ning.com! I’m sure Ning isn’t in the NC legislation; it’s too new, yet the social-site creation and hosting company recently claimed something like 15,000 homemade social-networking sites on its servers. But pretty soon every commercial Web site and even corporate intranets are going to have social-networking features, it seems. Cisco even bought a social-networking developer to fold into its mix of services to other large corporations, and it’s not alone. Which points out the absurdity of locking into law the definition of a rapidly moving target! Strange times we live in.

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    Impose that supervision on MySpace, and kids – as I think Adam said – go offshore. Or any of hundreds of social sites based in this country which haven’t been picked up on or targeted by the attorneys general.

  • http://www.2buysoma.com Soma

    Impose that supervision on MySpace, and kids – as I think Adam said – go offshore. Or any of hundreds of social sites based in this country which haven’t been picked up on or targeted by the attorneys general.

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