It is easy register as a user on a site using a different identity than the actual one. A 14 year old can pretend to be 25 and set up a profile on most social networking sites. As a result, minors have been able to find their way onto sites that were intended for adults. In some cases, they have become the victims of child predators whom they met online. Governments and legislators are looking at age verification as a way to protect minors from inappropriate contacts on the Internet. This article explores some of the issues raised by age verification and looks at the status of laws and government enforcement actions that focus on keeping minors out of sites that are not intended for them, or not prepared to handle them.
The case John Doe v. SexSearch.com (Case. No. 3:07 CV 604 U.S. Dist. Ct N. District of Ohio) provides an example of encounters that may result where there is no verification of the age or other information provided by a registrant. SexSearch.com offers an online adult dating service intended for a mature audience. For more detailssee the version of this article published in the Shidler Journal of Law, Commerce + Technology Shortly after he became a member of SexSearch.com, John Doe located Jane Roe’s profile, which provided Jane Roe’s birth date, her age (18), and an authentic image of Jane Roe at her then-current age. After chatting online through SexSearch.com, the two decided to schedule a sexual encounter. The meeting went as planned, and the two engaged in consensual sexual relations. (more…)