Jennifer Medina of the New York Times penned an article yesterday on the debate over social networking fears leading to calls for age verification mandates. She noted that measures are moving in several states that would require social networking sites to age-verify users before they are allowed to visit the sites or create profiles there. But Medina also noted that there are many difficult questions about how age verification would work and how “social networking” would even be defined. (I summarize these questions in my recent PFF report, “Social Networking and Age Verification: Many Hard Questions; No Easy Solutions.”)
Ms. Medina was also kind enough to interview me for the story and she summarizes some of what I had to say in her piece. In a nutshell, I stressed that the most effective way to deal with this problem is to get serious about dealing with sex offenders instead of trying to regulate law-abiding citizens. We need to be locking up convicted sex offenders for a lot longer in this country to make sure they behind bars instead of behind keyboards seeking to prey on our children.
I also stressed the importance of online safety education as part of the strategy here. But my comments on that didn’t make the cut in the story. But you can read my big recent paper on this issue for additional details.