AGs Call For Better Age-Verification Methods

Attorneys General across the country banded together Wednesday, calling on social networking sites to strengthen parental controls to keep minors from accessing questionable material on their sites.

The efforts are being headed by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who worked previously to get MySpace to disclose the identities of sex offenders on its Web site, and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper. While both are working to have the companies voluntarily change their policies, they are also pushing for actual laws.

In both states, such bills have been proposed, but failed to pass. Similar efforts have been launched in other states, including Georgia. Efforts at the federal level have also been launched on both sides of the aisle.

So far, the social networking sites are pushing back against any efforts to mandate age validation of their users. Companies say there is no effective way to verify the age of its users or the identity of the person claiming to be an underage user's parent or guardian.

To its credit, MySpace has deleted some 29,000 sex offenders from its site, although it was only those that it could detect through the user giving his or her real name. Other companies, like Facebook, restrict access to high-school based groups once a user turns 18.

However, this is not enough for Blumenthal or the other attorneys general. “"These sites say they want to cooperate, but they have resisted the concept of age or identity verification,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

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