Saturday, October 15, 2005

Paedophiles and internet chat

CrimProfs report that Yahoo! is going to ban under 18s from chatrooms.

They don't take comments so I thought I would just raise a quick question - what is the point? Now, I am all for cracking down upon predators in whatever manner available, but realistically, will this make any difference?

Once one is online, how can anyone tell whether you are 18? I mean, when you set up an ID, kids who want to use chat will know to set their age above 18, mostly.

This is some help, don't get me wrong. I imagine it will freeze all existing IDs younger than 18. That is a good, no great, thing to do. However, there are probably more useful measures Yahoo! can take. What about actually monitoring chat rooms? I understand the Big Brother kind of argument about this, but could it be done in a way which did not infringe too much on privacy? Could monitoring be random?

Maybe an acceptance of monitoring could simply be included, with a warning like they give you on customer service telephone lines, that you conversations may be recorded or monitored. That would give people the option of not using the service. Yes, I understand that if all chat operators did this, we would be living in a Big Brother society, but I am interested to hear if anyone has ideas of what could be done about this without too much invasion.

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