Rpt: Online Threats to Children Overblown

9:59 am law, policy

NYTimes article, “Report Calls Online Threats to Children Overblown“, seen on Slashdot, “Internet Not Really Dangerous For Kids After All“. The government commissioned a task force to see what could be done about our rampant online predator problem, as highlighted by “To Catch A Predator” among other things. Instead, the task force reported back that “Social networks are very much like real-world communities that are comprised mostly of good people who are there for the right reasons.” The report went on to suggest that the government instead focus resources on child-on-child bullying.
One of the key state attorneys general pushing for the report spat out this gem of a response,

“Children are solicited every day online,” Mr. Blumenthal said. “Some fall prey, and the results are tragic. That harsh reality defies the statistical academic research underlying the report.”

So classic. When the science disagrees with the premise, damn the science! In the end, the likes of Blumenthal will win, naturally. Sexual predators, insomuch as they actually exist, are vile and indefensible Attacking anything remotely associated with them is a bottomless apple basket for politicians, who experience no downside to amping up the parental anxiety as a campaign device. After all, “what are you, a pedo sympathizer?” Nevertheless, it’s nice to see rational, calm thinking to have a small victory for once.
There is much information in there with relevance to Second Life. Here, I will just quote the part that mentions age verification,

Among the systems the technology board looked at included age verification technologies that try to authenticate the identities and ages of children and prevent adults from contacting them. But the board concluded that such systems “do not appear to offer substantial help in protecting minors from sexual solicitation.”

That said, no alternatives to countering the legal risks facing Linden Lab were proposed in the report.
-Big Adz ))

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