Civil Liberties

Task Force on Internet Predators Reports: People Need to Stop Freaking Out About Internet Predators


About a year ago, absolutely everybody who was anybody in the Internet world, plus 50 attorneys general joined the very respected and respectable Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School's brand spanking new Internet Safety Technical Task Force

The goal was to figure out what to do about the Internet predators that seemed to be lurking in every corner, threatening children and generally ruining Web 2.0 for the rest of us. They promised to dig in and get back to us in a year with a really comprehensive report.

Today The New York Times reports on the report, which concludes:

Sites like MySpace and Facebook "do not appear to have increased the overall risk of solicitation" and that "posting personally identifying information does not appear to increase risk in and of itself."

Moreover, the task force found, technological fixes like age verification and scans for sexual predators aren't effective at catching the relatively small number of predators online.

In other words, everybody needs to chill out. Your kid is no more likely to get hit on by a guy with a skeezy mustache online than they are at the 7-11. So let the kid cruise MySpace in peace.

For more on how the Internet, like the rest of the world, is full of people who have no desire to have sex with 12-year-olds, check out our interview with Craigslist founder Craig Newmark.