The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School has just announced the formation of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force, and they were kind enough to ask me to serve as a member. According to the press release they sent out this morning:
The Task Force will evaluate a broad range of existing and state-of-the-art online safety technologies, including a review of identity authentication tools to help sites enforce minimum age requirements. The Task Force is a central element of the Joint Statement on Key Principles of Social Networking Safety announced in January 2008 by MySpace and the Attorneys General Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking. Fifty Attorneys General adopted the â€œJoint Statementâ€ with the goal of improving online safety standards industry-wide.
[I discussed the details of that My Space-AG â€œjoint statement in this report back in January.] The Task Force is composed of industry-leading Internet businesses, non-profit organizations, and technology companies, including: AOL, Aristotle, AT&T, Bebo, Center for Democracy & Technology, Connectsafely.org, Comcast, Enough is Enough, Facebook, Google, the Family Online Safety Institute, iKeepSafe, the Institute for Policy Innovation, Linden Lab, Loopt, IDology, Microsoft, MySpace, NCMEC, Progress and Freedom Foundation, Sentinel Tech, Symantec, Verizon, WiredSafety.org, Xanga, and Yahoo! The Task Force will be chaired by John Palfrey, executive director of the Berkman Center.
Over the past year, I have been very active on many of the issues that will be at the core of the task forceâ€™s mission, including the identify authentication / age verification debate. For those who might be interested, I've included the relevant PFF studies and links down below the fold. I'm looking forward to working with the other members of the Task Force to conduct a comprehensive review of these issues. I'm sure I will be reporting here occasionally on our progress.
Recent PFF research on online safety, social networking, & age verification
[book] â€œParental Controls and Online Child Protectionâ€
[legislative index] "Online Child Protection & Online Content Regulation Bills, A Joint PFF / CDT Report"
[event transcript] â€œAge Verification for Social Networking Sites: Is It Possible? And Desirable?â€
[op-ed] â€œIs MySpace the Government's Space?â€
[interview] â€œWhy MySpace is a Safe Place,â€ Forbes.com