Tech-geek question - how to keep minors from signing up for an adult forum?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by B_big dirigible, Jul 14, 2007.

  1. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    Some members here have experience with administering or moderating forums, and have probably run into this problem before. The question is, how to prevent underage types from signing up as forum members? Is the "honor system" the best that one can do? I can't think of anything else. I know some sites claim that a credit card number is evidence that one isn't a minor, but that seems awfully feeble.

    It hasn't been a problem for me so far, as all I get are old guys signing up for the "tractor repair" forum, but I was thinking of expanding a bit, and this business of minors could bite me in the buttski if I don't take precautions. Ideally I'd like to have a forum in two sections, "adult" and "everybody". That should just be a matter of permission settings for different "groups" of members, and technically shouldn't be hard. It would be a more flexible arrangement than that here at LPSG, which is (in theory) all adult-only. But of course qualifying the adults would still be a problem.

    Dodging the problem by locating myself or the servers outside of the US probably isn't practical.
     
  2. Gillette

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    I know squat about tech but is there a way around legal issues by having each member certify/verify/claim with a click button that they are of a certain age and that they agree to release your site from any legal issues arising from them having lied about their age?
     
  3. dong20

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    It's not really a tech-geek question as such. Authentication systems are easily fooled by a person's valid information used without permission by another. Or getting an adult to 'sign them up'.

    As for LPSG; some form of "Adult Pass" verification? A token value credit card validation? It's impossible to be entirely certain but such simple steps would likely keep out many, but it's hardly foolproof as prepaid credit cards for example are not age limited.

    There is no shortage of systems around.

    Age verification on the internet - UK scheme launched | OUT-LAW.COM
    GB Group - ID3-Check - international ID verification

    There's a comparative analysis here.

    COPA Commission

    I suppose it depends on how serious the underage problem is in any given situation. At LPSG there are potential legal consequences, in another scenario annoyance may be all that results. The global nature of the Internet adds complexity to the issue of course.
     
  4. JMeister

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    I would look at what the big sites do and consider mimicking it.
     
  5. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    That's what I mean by the "honor" system. It relies on the applicant telling the truth about his age. Many sites act as if that's all that's legally required. I don't want to get into the "adultcheck" and such stuff that the real porno sites often use. For one thing, those are credit-card based, which I don't really believe correlates well with age. Also, I don't plan for it to be a pay site.

    Oddly enough, standard forum software tends to have signup or registration pages which make a big deal of the applicant being over 13. I don't know the legal significance of that age. Certainly below a certain age a person can't enter into contractual arrangements, and in principle signing up for membership in a forum is a contractual arrangement, even if no money changes hands. But 13 seems too low for that.

    In the US, most jurisdictions I've heard of seem reasonably happy with a minimum age of 18 for exposure to "adult" materials. I'd probably use that as the cutoff age on the site I have in mind. That is, if I can figure out a satisfactory way to see that they are actually 18.
     
  6. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    The ones I remember seeing are all credit-card based, which I don't want to do. Basically, I've never joined a site with such a setup, so I suspect those I'd be trying to attract wouldn't either.
     
  7. Gillette

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    I'm wondering if pre-paid cards are in someway that's identifiable differentiated from regular credit cards. If there is then charging a nominal fee for the adult sections could assist in keeping out minors. One, you could disallow prepaid cards. Two, a kid would be less likely to use daddy's card if he knows that daddy is going to see that charge show up on his bill and come looking for answers.


    *Edit. Big D, after posting this I saw your post about not wanting it to be a paid site, so my advice doesn't help you much. Sheesh, it took me four minutes or more to type up that tiny post? Sad. Now you know why I hate long involved posts. So much for my secretarial career.
     
  8. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    Yes, it's mainly wishful thinking - push a button, run a script, and all your problems will be fixed.

    Good links, thanks, I'll slog through them.
     
  9. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    Yes ... though the more nominal the fee, the less Dad is likely to notice. It might still work. Of course I'd have to get some credit card software working, which I've never used before. Work, work, work ...
     
  10. Mr. Snakey

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    Yes there is no way of them really being sure if someone is old enough to be here other than I.D. information etc. being requiered to join.
     
  11. Gillette

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    Yes and no.

    He'd be more pissed if junior charged $100.00 to his card sure, but on the other hand $0.25 might catch his attention faster. Who the hell charges twenty-five cents?
     
  12. dong20

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    A verification system need not deduct anything. All it needs to do is verify the card, authorising 1c will do that and of course nothing appears on the bill.
     
  13. dong20

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    That won't work either. The ONLY was is physical verification, in person and even that isn't foolproof. Then, there is nothing to stop a clever kid stealing the logon...easily done.
     
  14. dong20

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    There are plenty of card verification systems around that will tell you if a card is at least a genuine number.

    CardCheck reviews and free downloads and
    Free Credit Card Verification Software

    are just two ...there are loads. If you don't have legal comeback, that may be all you need.
     
  15. mindseye

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    The link I've marked {B} is from 1999 and describes a law that was struck down in a federal court in March of this year (the source is a PDF document). The Commission in {A} was created by this law, and has since been dissolved, so the information in that link is rapidly aging as well.

    To answer big dirigible's question: More information will help. Is your website text-only? Do you provide content, or is the content contributed by your members?

    If your website is text-only, you are probably safe with reasonable vigilance (but I'm not a lawyer). If you're hosting images as well, you need to be more careful -- United States v. Knox establishes a low threshhold for what determines "child pornography" (the case involved minors whose genitals were covered by see-through clothing). If you're providing the content, you should check out the odious record-keeping requirements of 18 USC 2257.

    There's been no significant case law yet in which a web host was charged for unknowingly providing access to a minor who gave a false DOB. (I think it's obvious why DOJ might be reluctant to try such a case.) The sticky situation for us here is when a user gives a false DOB stating he's 47 years old, and then posts about the embarrassing boner he got in Ms. Vavoom's homeroom this morning. Legally, we might be protected by the user's declaration that he was of age, but that's a pretty iffy proposition. When faced with conflicting declarations by the same user, we tend to err on the side of caution -- though we're not legally mandated to do so.

    The legal significance of that age -- and it's significant for all websites, adult and family-oriented -- is that it's the age under U.S. law at which a person is deemed old enough to consent to disclose their own personal information online.

    A webmaster cannot collect any personally-identifiable information -- including e-mail addresses that contain the child's name -- from a child under 13, without the consent of that child's parent or guardian.

    (The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act article at Wikipedia summarizes the act and then links to the full text of the act.)
     
  16. dong20

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    Yes, it should be possible to identify a card as a prepaid card based on its number. Card numbers (as you probably know) have a standardised numbering scheme. Based on ISO7812 for the nerdy.

    Here's a nice friendly explanation or two..

    Credit Card Check Digit Validation

    Anatomy of Credit Card Numbers
     
  17. Mr. Snakey

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    This is a great concern. There isnt an easy answer. They do the best they can to keep the underage ones away. What i do is stay away from anyone who never drank from a glass milk bottle.........:wink:
     
  18. ManlyBanisters

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    :lmao:

    what if they're lactose intolerant?
     
  19. Mr. Snakey

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    Well ok then.............:wink: How about if they changed the channel on the Telly using a knob?:biggrin1:
     
  20. viking1

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    That makes me feel old...
     
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