Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Register | MySpace passes age verification buck to parents

The Register | MySpace passes age verification buck to parents
News Corp's social network MySpace is developing software which will put responsibility for protecting teenagers in the hands of parents.

The project, codenamed "Zephyr", aims to pacify critics who point to repeated examples of child abusers using MySpace to groom victims. MySpace's browsing rules are notably free and easy compared to other big social networks like Facebook, which requires users to approve each person to view their profile.

The minimum age to join MySpace is currently 14. This gives advertisers access to a notoriously difficult to reach demographic, but has caught the eye of 33 state attorneys, who are investigating action to force the minimum up to 16. The lawyers, led by Connecticut's Richard Blumenthal, want MySpace to cross check users' details with government databases to verify their age too.


Zephyr would alert parents of name, age and location data which teens enter into their profile or alter. Working like a piece of spyware, it would log the information in a password-protected file on a computer's hard disk for parents to monitor. Accessing the profile from a remote location would see any changes added to the log on the parental machine. Of course, this would not prevent teenagers maintaining a profile with false age information from public access computers...

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