MySpace To Check ID?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

People Dancing in a Dance Club

If Connecticut lawmakers have their way, they're going have to start.

The bill is designed to protect underage children from online predators, Blumenthal said in a statement.

"These sites must verify ages and give parents power to keep their children off these sites," Blumenthal said. "Failing to verify ages means that children are exposed to sexual predators who may be older men lying to seem younger."

He also said he doesn't believe there are technological reasons not to do age verifications. "If we can put a man on the moon -- or invent the Internet -- we can reliably check ages," Blumenthal said.

Clearly Mr. Blumenthal hasn't met the programming wizards of MySpace. They can't program for what the site is supposed to do now. It's the Rube Goldberg machine of the web design world.

Besides. I doubt the "it" destination of social networking will be happy to just check ID. If they go that route, their gonna want to hire bouncers and have lines clear down the cyber block. There'll be guest lists, of course, and the really cute girls will be able to go right in.

Perhaps it's because I'm a parent. Perhaps it's because I'm a survivor, but I totally agree with the spirit of this legislation. What happens on MySpace and sites like it is horrifying. It's happy hunting for predators and other shapeshifters. I have to purge my inbox routinely of invites from webcam girls. So family-friendly, it's not. They should have some mechanism to filter out the creepy bar-flies. I just don't think they'll be able to pull it off.

A bill such as the one proposed in Connecticut "allows you to control the people who are willing to be controlled" but is unlikely to make much of a difference otherwise, said Pete Lindstrom, an analyst at Midvale, Utah-based Burton Group. "The notion of the predator is getting lost here. Are we trying to validate the kids who are underage trying to act overage, or the overage adults trying to act like they are underage?"

In most cases, the threat to minors visiting such sites comes not from other minors but from adults, he said. And those individuals are likely able to easily circumvent any age verification process a site might impose, he said. An attacker setting up a profile as his own son for instance would easily defeat age verification checks, he said.