There is a new free-market idea to the problem of properly identifying minors and adults on the Internet. A company called “eGuardian” (“Protecting your child on the Internet”) offers lifetime registration for $29 per child, and then offers commercial websites the opportunity to become partners so that they know that their children are minors. Then the commercial websites (especially social networking sites) can prevent age inappropriate material from reaching the minors. It is also possible to integrate the product into search engine results. Critics say that the commercial websites will use this to feed kiddie advertisements (for products like sweet cereals, toys, candy, etc.) Somehow the “Alphabit” cereal from the 1970s comes to my own mind.
The New York Times story is by Brad Stone, in the Ping Section, and is actually titled “Online Age Verification for Children Brings Privacy Worries,” on p 4 of Sunday Business, Nov. 16, 2008.