Category Archives: Richard Blumenthal

Internet Safety Technical Task Force Kicks Off

We had the kick-off meeting for the Internet Safety Technical Task Force this week.  As I expected, there are a lot of differing opinions of the committee members.  It should be an interesting year to watch how things progress. 

I believe the key to progress is being able to listen and keeping an open mind.  Which is just what I intend to do.


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Filed under Age Verification, Internet Safety, MySpace, protecting kids online, Richard Blumenthal, sexual predators, social networking

MySpace Sees the Identity and Age Verification Light…

Today’s press release out of North Carolina Attorney General’s Office Roy Cooper is a big deal. Here’s the first paragraph:

In a victory for social networking safety, Attorney General Roy Cooper and 49 other attorneys general today announced that MySpace has agreed to significant steps to better protect children on its web site, including creating a task force to explore and develop age and identity verification technology.

It’s been a long 2 years in this education process and the fruits of our labors are finally coming to fruition. Given MySpace’s leadership position and popularity, gaining recognition and cooperation from them will only serve to help advance identity and age verification technologies growth in the market. Here are some words that are music to my ears:

MySpace acknowledged in the agreement the important role of age and identity verification technology in social networking safety and agreed to find and develop on-line identity authentication tools.

Obviously there is still a lot of work to do but I’m glad to see that we are all going to roll up our sleeves together and do what is best for our kids – find a way to help keep them safe online.

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Filed under Age Verification, child safety, Identity verification, Internet Safety, MySpace, protecting kids online, Richard Blumenthal, sexual predators, social networking

The United States of Attorneys Generals

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the Attorneys Generals of all 50 States have joined forces to pressure social networking sites to require greater parental controls and age verification tools so that minors can’t access the sites so easily.

Here’s what Blumenthal had to say:

“These sites say they want to cooperate, but they have resisted the concept of age or identity verification.”

While there are always several reasons companies resist change, one that really stands out to me as a probable explanation in this situation is the fear that something of value will be lost. Like members.

One of the biggest arguments social networks have claimed from the beginning about age verification ineffectiveness is how difficult it is to verify the age of a minor. Yes, there are challenges with this. But instead of clinging to this as an excuse not to act, why not focus on what can be done today. And that is age verify the adults.

Although Facebook has received some attention lately about a few predators getting on the site since opening up to the general public, they are most well known for their ability to separate users under 18 from those over. And ZoeysRoom seems to be doing a good job of verifying that its members are kids.

What I think we need to move away from is the notion that this problem is only an issue of age. Blumenthal had it right when he referred to it as “age or identity verification.”

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Filed under Age Verification, Facebook, Identity verification, Internet Safety, MySpace, protecting kids online, Richard Blumenthal, social networking

Blumenthal Shows a Different Facebook

Another social networking site is starting to take some heat from law enforcement in its ability to keep sexual predators off its site. The New York Times reports that Facebook, which has positioned itself as the safe social-networking alternative because it takes greater lengths than other social networks to keep adults and under-age users apart, is now under scrutiny from Connecticut’s Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. Blumenthal’s interest comes from a few recent cases involving convicted sex offenders joining the site and from investigators finding inappropriate images and content. He also has a personal interest because his children use Facebook.

The article says Chris Kelly, the chief privacy officer at Facebook is:

“not familar with the Connecticut investigation but that the company has received ‘a number’ of such reports and usually takes down such profiles within 72 hours.”

Some of you might remember Kelly who appeared on a panel discussion at the RSA security conference last February titled Pandora’s Box – Youth and Internet Security in the Information Age. I highly recommend watching this panel discussion if you haven’t already.

 

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Filed under Age Verification, Chris Kelly, Facebook, Internet Safety, MySpace, protecting kids online, Richard Blumenthal, sexual predators, social networking