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Age Verification for Social Networking Sites (PFF event transcript)

Age Verification for Social Networking Sites (PFF event transcript)

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Published by: Adam Thierer on May 06, 2008
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Progress on Point 
 
Release 14.8 May 2007 Periodic Commentaries on the Policy Debate
Age Verification for Social Networking Sites:Is it Possible? Is it Desirable?
*
 
Adam Thierer, ModeratorJohn CardilloJay ChaudhuriRaye CroghanTim LordanJeff Schmidt
 
Adam Thierer,
Senior Fellow, The Progress & Freedom Foundation: 
Goodafternoon everyone and welcome to this afternoon's Progress and Freedom FoundationPolicy Seminar on age verification and social networking. My name is Adam Thiererand I serve as a Senior Fellow at the Progress and Freedom Foundation.Unless you've been asleep under a rock for the past year, you're all certainly aware thata heated debate has developed about social networking websites. In particular, manypolicy makers are concerned about what our children might be doing while they are onsocial networking sites or who they might be coming into contact with while there.Officials at both the federal and state level have proposed legislation to address whatthey feel are the dangers associated with social networking sites. For example, lastyear the House of Representatives here at the federal level passed the Deleting OnlinePredators Act overwhelmingly, which would have banned access to such sites withinpublicly funded schools and libraries. And although it failed to pass the Senate lastyear, it has already been reintroduced this session in both the House and the Senate.At the same time, several State Attorneys General have been pushing for legislationthat would require social networking websites to verify the ages of their users beforethey would be allowed to gain access to those sites. Already such proposals have beenintroduced in Connecticut, Georgia, North Carolina and additional proposals may be onthe way.Attorneys General and other policy makers argue that age verification is important toprotect our kids from cyber predators and other online dangers. But some skeptics
*
This is an edited transcript of a program that took place on March 23, 2007 in Washington, DC. Theedited transcript has not been reviewed by the program participants.
**
 
Speaker biographies are available at the end of this transcript.
 
1444 EYE STREET, NW
SUITE 500
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20005
PHONE: 202-289-8928FACSIMILE: 202-289-6079
E-MAIL: mail@pff.org
INTERNET: http://www.pff.org
 
Page 2 Progress on Point 14.8 
wonder whether age verification is possible or desirable. This will be the focus of ourconversation here today.Incidentally, I have just released a new Progress and Freedom Foundation report onthis subject entitled "Social Networking and Age Verification: Many Hard Questions; NoEasy Solutions."
1
As that title implies, unfortunately, my paper asks a lot morequestions than it probably answers, but that's because age verification is verycomplicated from both a technical and policy-based perspective. There are questionsand challenges about how we define social networking, whether domestic solutions willwork for an international medium like the Internet, and various sorts of privacy andspeech related questions.Then there are, of course, the more mechanical sort of questions about the nuts andbolts of how age verification might actually work. Would it entail credit cards, birthcertificates, biometric identifiers, school records, parental permission, or perhaps somecombination of all of the above?Finally, there are questions pertaining to resource allocation; would we be better servedby spending time on online safety education or by stepping up efforts to prosecuteonline predators?These are just a few of the many questions we hope to address during today'sdiscussion. We're lucky to be joined by a distinguished panel of experts to considerthese matters.The format for today's discussion is very straightforward. I've asked each of thepanelists to do their best to try to keep their opening remarks to around six to eightminutes a piece to leave plenty of time for rebuttal and discussion after each of themare done making those opening remarks. Then, of course, we'll have plenty of time foraudience Q and A.Now, let me briefly introduce our distinguished panel. Before I do so, I want to ask as acourtesy to our panelists that you please mute your cell phones or other electronicdevices that you have with you.I'm first going to ask Jay Chaudhuri to address us and tell us a bit about what is beingproposed in the State of North Carolina. Jay serves as Special Counsel to NorthCarolina Attorney General Roy Cooper. Attorney General Cooper is one of the StateAGs who has proposed age verification of social networking sites.Jay represents the Attorney General on the Governor's Crime Commission and theState Advisory Board on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. He alsoprovides counsel to the Attorney General Cooper on a wide variety of other legal and
1
 
Adam Thierer, “Social Networking and Age Verification: Many Hard Questions; No Easy Solutions,” TheProgress & Freedom Foundation Progress on Point, March 2007. (http://www.pff.org/issues-pubs/pops/pop14.5ageverification.pdf)
 
Progress on Point 14.8 Page
public policy issues.After Jay speaks, we're going to hear from three experts on information security andidentity verification, who will walk us through these nuts and bolts of age verificationissues.John Cardillo is the founder and CEO of Sentinel Tech Holding Corporation, a leader inthe online identity and background verification space. Sentinel recently introducedSentinel Safe, which is a sex offender detection tool. Sentinel Safe's first partner wasMySpace.com. John, incidentally, formerly served in the New York Police Department.Raye Croghan is the Vice President of IDology, another leading provider of identity andage verification solutions. At IDology, Raye is responsible for product development andshe is well known within the identity and age verification industry. She has held seniorpositions with Bank of America, U.S. Bank, First Data Corporation and Gartner Group.Jeff Schmidt is another noted information security expert and has spent time, over thepast three years, focusing on these issues as the founder and CEO of Authis, a Reston-based technology company. In his 15 year information security career, he has workedfor Microsoft, the Ohio State University and several other small technology companies.Jeff, incidentally, is also the founder and elected Director of the InfraGard NationalMembers Alliance, which is the private sector component of the FBI's InfraGardprogram. It was set up to provide information sharing between industry and governmenton matters of national security.Finally, we're going to hear form my friend, Tim Lordan, who is the Executive Director ofthe Internet Education Foundation, a nonpartisan, non-profit organization dedicated toeducating the public on matters of Internet safety and other Internet policy issues.Tim joined IEF in 1999 as the first permanent staff member and he assists Congressthrough the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Commission in educating policymakers on various Internet policy matters.I've asked Tim to be here today to talk about something that is equally important to thisdebate, which is the Internet safety component and other issues having to do with socialnetworking policy. Tim also helped develop what I think is one of the best, if not thevery best, online safety websites and resources, GetNetWise.org.With that, I'm going to turn to Jay and ask him to first address us and the panelists canfeel free to stay right there in their seats and we'll go from there.Jay?
Jay Chaudhuri,
Esq., Special Counsel to North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper 
:
Thank you, Adam. Thank you for inviting me and allowing me to share thethoughts of the Attorney General's Office on this important issue.

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CurtisNeeley added this note
The International network of computers connected by wire and radio simultaneously is all this "unique and wholly new medium [usage]" has ever been. The duty of the FCC is to protect the safety of communications in interstate and world wide communications. Identity and age verification is TRIVIAL to make absolutely verifiable but has not been required done by a porn-hungry FCC. It is coming.
Tiffany Spires added this note
I know that its the parents responsiblity to montior your children but i think these websites should shoulder some of the responsibility also. I thought of the credit card thing to verify, but nowdays anyone, any age can get a prepaid credit card. So what are we to do?
Tiffany Spires added this note
I just had an incident this week where my 13 yr old was watching pornographic material from a website called pornhub. I went on this site thinking that he didnt get to see much, because they as for age and birthday, but was horrified to find out that none of that was done. You just go on to this site and pick what videos (HARDCORE STUFF NO LESS) and there it is in front of you.
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