NetChoice Comments to FCC — Age Verification Ain’t Going to Protect No Kids

by on February 24, 2010 · 5 comments

NetChoice filed comments today with the FCC in its inquiry on Empowering Parents and Protecting Children in an Evolving Media Landscape. PFF’s comments (jointly filed w/ EFF as described in their TLF post) are comprehensive, excellent, and very highly recommended (well done Adam and Berin). I took a narrower approach. My goal was to dismiss age and parental verification as a tool to keep kids safe online:

Teens are very active users of Internet websites. To verify parental consent, parents would have to provide identifying data (most often credit card information) to a myriad of sites and services. This would require private companies to store vast amounts of parents’ personal information and, by doing so, increase customers’ vulnerability to security breaches and identity theft. According to the Berkman study, “there are significant potential privacy concerns and security issues given the type and amount of data aggregated and collected by the technology solutions….” Many online companies have moved away from collecting and storing this type of data for good reason.

Like the comments filed jointly by PFF and EFF, I also asserted that the FCC lacks jurisdiction to regulate online media platforms. Neither the Telecommunications Act of 1996 nor the Children’s Television Act of 1990 provides the Commission with the authority to regulate online media content. Furthermore, if the FCC were to pursue regulation of the Internet in the same manner it regulates broadcast and cable television, we believe there would be serious first amendment implications.

Not sure where the FCC can go with this NOI (at least as it regards the Internet) but that’s the scariness of it all.

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