NetIDMe virtual ID card may pose problems

A virtual ID card designed to improve children’s net safety has been launched in the UK, US, Canada and Australia. The NetIDMe card can be swapped by children online when using chatrooms, instant messaging and social networks. Parents and children can apply for the card using credit card details and a form countersigned by a professional who knows the child concerned.

Net-ID-me is the first Internet Age and Identity Verification System that validates the identities of individuals of all ages. A Net-ID is a secure electronic identity card that displays only your first name, age, gender, and general location and is used to verify who you are chatting with online.

Tom Newton, product manager at content filtering firm SmoothWall, said: “The new child online safety card, which was launched in the UK yesterday, has been over-hyped and could end up causing more harm than good. Of course, it is a worthy idea and will certainly be a blueprint for future similar schemes, but this initial effort has some serious flaws. For starters it costs money to purchase and then use, which will put some parents off. It is complicated to get a hold of and probably most dangerous of all is that it will mean parents will think they don’t have to monitor their children’s online activities as closely. And it is all well and good if one person has the card, but since the system only works if both have the card, it means some friends won’t be able to keep in contact online, even if they are 100 per cent sure who it is they are communicating with. And what happens to those who have turned 17 but have younger friends?

“The talk surrounding this card is worrying because it will make parents believe that their children are completely safe when the reality is not that true. Yes, this could have benefits, but I think it is important that we don’t mislead parents and that they still supervise and educate their children without relying on this card to allay all their fears.”

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