The Myspace-Ag Agreement: A Model Code of Conduct for Social Networking?
Adam D. Thierer
George Mason University - Mercatus Center
January 16, 2008
Progress & Freedom Foundation Progress on Point Paper, No. 15.1
The agreement between MySpace and 49 state Attorney Generals, which contains several Principles of Social Networking, is a major step forward for online safety. Specifically, these involve technical tools, educational efforts, improved law enforcement cooperation, and the creation of an Internet Safety Technical Task Force. Indeed, many of the principles in the agreement could form a potential model code of conduct that other social networking sites could adopt.
However, some initiatives of concern include the proposed child e-mail registry, where parents would submit addresses that would subsequently be barred from opening a MySpace account, raising questions regarding privacy and security. The registry could also be easily circumvented by simply acquiring an alternate e-mail address. The proposed Task Force must not be a rubber stamp for age verification mandates, as some AGs seemed to imply. Age verification is a complicated technical issue, and it also has profound implications for privacy and freedom of speech.
While the actions taken by MySpace and the Attorneys General to promote online safety do much to subdue the concerns of parents and policymakers, parents need to both monitor their children's activities online and use the many technical and educational tools now at their disposal. If for whatever reason, parents are not taking advantage of these tools and options, their inaction should not be used to justify government regulation as a surrogate for household choice / parental responsibility.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 7
Keywords: email registry, parental controls, online controls, Internet Safety, online privacy, social networking, myspace, online safety, age verification, child predators, online predators, internet, free speech, cyberstalkers, sex offenders, internet regulation, authentication, online identification, FTC
JEL Classification: L82, L96, D18, I2, I20, I28, O38, O33
Date posted: February 12, 2008