Facebook to get age bans, parent control?

Australian attorneys-general are today discussing extra measures to protect children using Facebook, including age verification, even possibly a lock-out for under 18s and a requirement for parental access to children's accounts.

Australian attorneys-general are today discussing extra measures to protect children using Facebook, including age verification, even possibly a lock-out for under 18s and a requirement for parental access to children's accounts.

South Australian Attorney-General John Rau hopes to crack down on Facebook and its inability to verify the age of its users.

Ahead of a meeting of state and federal attorneys-general yesterday, Rau told reporters that Facebook needed to implement a process whereby Australians wishing to create a profile have their age verified.

Facebook does have a minimum age limit; however, this is set at 13 years of age, and does not have any verification process tied to it.

"Age verification is something that various platforms deal with, and I can't see why it should be beyond the wit of Facebook to do the same thing, if that was the solution people wanted," he said.

An options paper to be considered by the attorneys-general would consider the merits of raising the age limit to 18 years of age, and also requiring a method to verify this.

At a doorstop interview outside of the meeting, Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland told reporters that Rau would be tasked with finding a model that would work, but admitted that the main challenge lay with the US social media site being outside of its jurisdiction.

McClelland said that it would be easy to regulate an Australian entity to enforce a minimum age of participation; however, the challenge with Facebook lay in having Australian jurisdiction extended off shore. He suggested that discussions between Australia and the US company couldn't hurt to "get some good will".

He also advocated educating minors on the dangers of posting personal or inappropriate material on social networking sites, saying that ideally he would like dialog between family members to be the first point of resolution. When asked whether having parents monitoring their children's accounts would go too far, he did not rule out the possibility of introducing laws that would allow parents to remove, supervise and administer their children's Facebook accounts.

The topic is expected to continue to be discussed today, along with proposals for an R18+ rating for video games.

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