Fri, May 30, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Group mulls ways to keep youth from Web’s dark side

By Loa Iok-Sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Citing examples from other countries, representatives of youth and child protection organizations suggested yesterday that monitoring online activity, rather than Web site content, may be more effective in protecting youth from accessing inappropriate online information.

“The Children and Juveniles Welfare Law [兒童及少年福利法] puts the emphasis on not feeding inappropriate information to children and young adults via the Internet — but this approach has not been very effective,” Lee Li-fen (李麗芬), secretary-general of the Taiwan chapter of End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism, told a forum on Internet safety for children and juveniles in Taipei.

The manner in which Internet content is monitored contains many loopholes, Lee said.

First of all, it depends on a Web site operator’s voluntary cooperation in rating a Web site.

The operator has to fill out an online form that describes the content of the Web site, whereupon the Taiwan Internet Content Rating Promotion Foundation rates the site.

Even if a Web site is judged inappropriate for children and young adults, there remain many ways to access it.

“Several countries monitor both content and online activity,” Lee said.

In South Korea, the Internet 119 organization identifies Web sites with inappropriate content and reports them to the National Youth Commission.

“When a Web site is considered unsuitable for children, those who want to access it can only do so after entering their national ID number,” Lee said.

In Germany, the process of approval to access Web sites with restricted material is even stricter.

“First, you have to go through a face-to-face application process so that your age can be ascertained,” Lee said. “Once your age has been verified, you are given an ID chip.”

Upon trying to access a site with restricted access, the ID chip holder must put the card into a card reader connected to the computer.

Then, he or she has to pass a second phase of identity checks with his or her own credit card.

Aside from such mechanisms, public education is also very important, said Su Pei-yi (蘇�?, a graduate student at National Chengchi University’s department of journalism.

“The Internet rating and filtering systems we have now require parent’s collaboration — but are our parents Internet-savvy enough to discuss the issue with their children?” she said, adding that no matter what measures are taken, the people need to know they exist for them to be meaningful.

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