Feeds

MySpace passes age verification buck to parents

Teen tabbing spyware

SANS - Survey on application security programs

News Corp's social network MySpace is developing software which will put responsibility for protecting teenagers in the hands of parents.

The project, codenamed "Zephyr", aims to pacify critics who point to repeated examples of child abusers using MySpace to groom victims. MySpace's browsing rules are notably free and easy compared to other big social networks like Facebook, which requires users to approve each person to view their profile.

The minimum age to join MySpace is currently 14. This gives advertisers access to a notoriously difficult to reach demographic, but has caught the eye of 33 state attorneys, who are investigating action to force the minimum up to 16. The lawyers, led by Connecticut's Richard Blumenthal, want MySpace to cross check users' details with government databases to verify their age too.

Current privacy measures on MySpace are designed to render 14 and 15-year-olds' profiles unbrowsable by over-18s, though security concerns emerged in summer when a hack was posted.

Zephyr would alert parents of name, age and location data which teens enter into their profile or alter. Working like a piece of spyware, it would log the information in a password-protected file on a computer's hard disk for parents to monitor. Accessing the profile from a remote location would see any changes added to the log on the parental machine. Of course, this would not prevent teenagers maintaining a profile with false age information from public access computers.

MySpace security spokesman Hemanshu Nigam told the Wall Street Journal the firm had failed to find an effective age verification solution. He said: "We've spoken to a number of companies and we have not yet found a firm or technology that can reliably verify the age of our members under 18." Nigam doesn't think the privacy hit will put off its young users.

MySpace's hopes of heading off legal moves to push it into safer practice look set to be dashed, however. North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, who co-chairs the group of 33, said Zephyr "notifies the parent too late. At best it's after the child has offered his age. At worst, it's when he's already left to meet a child predator". ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Reprieve for Weev: Court disowns AT&T hacker's conviction
Appeals court strikes down landmark sentence
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.