Peter Suderman of the Competitive Enterprise Insitute has penned a nice editorial on the regulatory threats facing MySpace and other social networking sites. In the essay he notes that "a mandatory [age] identification law would likely require the development of some sort of national identification system, and it would still be unlikely to be fully successful. " He continues:
Moreover, calls to develop such an identification system would create the possibility for an array of unforeseen consequences, as there are inherent dangers in requiring minors to publicly register their identities. By creating a centralized ID database, such requirements would render minors' personal information more vulnerable. Do parents really want their kids forced to give out personal data for public use?
Good point. Indeed, there are many dangers associated with requiring identify verification for minors before they get online, and policymakers must realize this becuase for many years they have worked hard to shield information about minors from the rest of society. There are various privacy laws on the books that tightly restrict the release or sharing of information about minors. So why change the rules for social networking? It seems to me like we'd be opening a major can of worms if we did.
Also, check out the outstanding summary of everything that's been happening on the social networking regulatory front over at the 463 blog. And here's a recent speech I did on the topic when I debate two state attorneys general at a major conference in D.C.