Monthly Archives: March 2007

2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back

March has been an interesting month for age verification.

First, the conversations for using age verification in social networks are moving forward (and heating up!). In fact, last week IDology participated as a panelist in a congressional forum discussing age verification. This article, despite its headline, does a good job of summing up the issues and our responses. I think what has most people confused about “age verification” is the focus some have had on the challenges associated with identifying minors. What we really should be talking about is how age verification is able to distinguish between an adult and a minor, and how we need to be involving parents through education and allowing them to provide consent for their kids. And the white elephant in the room not being discussed is cost. Ecommerce businesses will need to consider age verification as an inherent cost of doing business similar to bricks and mortar companies.

As further proof of electronic age verification working in the wine industry, one large wine retailer in California received a letter from the State of Vermont commending them on their use of age verification which successfully stopped a minor attempting to purchase wine as part of a sting operation. However, some retailers shipping beer and wine to consumers in Iowa weren’t so fortunate during a media sting conducted by the Daily Iowan. Incidentally the retailers weren’t using an age verification system and the carrier didn’t check ID upon delivery. Now both the retailers and the carrier involved in this sting are being investigated for failing to comply with Iowa regulations.

Age verification did take a step back this month when the Philadelphia court announced its decision on COPA in the ACLU case related to protecting minors access to harmful content. While disappointing, this decision is not surprising and this case is probably now headed to the Supreme Court. So in this instance, I would say a battle has been lost, but the war is far from over.

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Filed under Age Verification, COPA, Identity verification, Internet Safety, MySpace, social networking

It Takes A Village…

If you’ve been following the age verification within social networking sites issue, it should come as no surprise that Connecticut has proposed legislation requiring

“MySpace and other social networking sites to verify users’ ages and obtain parental consent before minors can post profiles.”

And like this article says, other states are considering legislation as well so it’s likely we’ll see more following Connecticut and North Carolina’s initiatives soon.

Frankly, I’m in support of anything businesses can do to better protect our children online, including predator identification, parental controls and education. Giving parents choice on what minor children are exposed to through age appropriate verification, truly puts the decisions regarding minor children back in the hands of the parents where it belongs. As Connecticut proposes, getting parental consent prior to allowing a minor post a profile engages parents, and solves the issue of “not being able to verify anyone under 18” that social networks have stated since the whole issue blew up in the media.

What I’d really like to see is more early adopters, like Zoey’s Room and Xologi, incorporate age and identity verification prior to being regulated to do so. As much as I’ve talked about verification being easy, it’s only one piece of a comprehensive solution to protect kids in social networks. Knowing that some members (good and bad) might criticize this endeavor or choose not to participate in an environment where safety rules over anonymity, might be hard to accept. But as the saying goes, doing the right thing isn’t always the easiest.


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Filed under Age Verification, Digital identity, identity, Identity verification, Internet Safety, MySpace, social networking

TAG: We’re It!

Yesterday I attended the Technology Association of Georgia’s Annual Summit. Based on the presentations I saw and the number of attendees at the event, I’d say Georgia’s technology community is alive and well. And especially here at IDology, since we were named one of the Top 10 Innovative Companies of Georgia during the event!

The keynote speaker was Chris Anderson, the editor of Wired Magazine and author of “The Long Tail. A few comments in his speech struck me. First is the concept of not limiting choice, but measuring it. To me, this is what Identity 2.0 is all about for businesses– it’s not limiting the choice consumers have but rather measuring (and adapting to) what consumers are comfortable and willing to provide about themselves, given the activity being conducted. Also interesting were the “new scarcities” he defines for the new economy which are attention and reputation, where the past scarcities related to manufacturing and distribution. The currency of these new scarcities is traffic (attention) and links and page ranks (reputation)…of course, most anyone in marketing already knows the value of these scarcities so I’m not sure they are necessarily “new,” just a lot more important.

Admittedly, I haven’t read the book…yet. but I now have a copy which was free in exchange for turning in my name badge. It was the cherry on top to sum up the point of Chris’s whole speech — which discussed Carver Mead‘ s counterintuitive 1980 call to “waste transistors.” In this case Chris is “wasting books,” to create abundance, gain more attention and build his reputation.

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Filed under Atlanta, Chris Anderson, Identity 2.0, The Long Tail