On January 14, 2009, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University released a report titled, “Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies.” The report is the final statement of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force to the Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking of State Attorneys General of the United States.
The report was based in part on the Task Force’s year-long review of a variety of safetydirected technologies, including age and identity verification, filtering and auditing, text analysis, and biometrics.
According to the report, there is no available technology to fully protect children from online dangers, and existing technologies are expensive while presenting additional privacy and safety concerns. Thus, the report emphasized that online child safety depends on “a combination of technologies, in concert with parental oversight, education, social services, law enforcement, and sound policies by social network sites and service providers.” The report recognized that some social networking sites have already made substantial progress in developing internal standards to protect minors.
In addition, the report included an examination of the risks that youth face online and concluded that such risks are “complex and multifaceted . . . and are in most cases not significantly different from what they face offline.” Bullying and harassment were found to be the most frequent threats that minors face.
The Task Force that compiled the report consisted of 29 Internet businesses, non-profit organizations, academics, and technology companies.