Official Hearing Notice May 24, 2000
Request for Comments on "One-Click Away" Resources, Age Verification Systems and Creation of an Adult Domain
ACTION: Hearing announcement and request for submission of comments in preparation for hearing of the Commission on Online Child Protection.
SUMMARY: The Commission on Online Child Protection (the COPA Commission) was directed by Congress in the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), 47 U.S.C. Sec. 231, to conduct a study regarding methods and technologies to help reduce access by minors to material on the World Wide Web that is harmful to minors. As part of this review, the Commission has scheduled three public hearings to consider these methods and technologies. On June 8-9, 2000, the COPA Commission will hold the first such public hearing in Washington, D.C. to consider "one-click away" resources, age verification systems, and creation of an adult top-level domain. Today's notice seeks comments on these methods and technologies.
DATES: Submissions are requested by June 2, 2000, in order to permit consideration in advance of the hearing.
ADDRESSES: Comments should be submitted in electronic form, to following email address: . The subject line for all submissions should read: "Comments on First Hearing Subjects."
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Kristin Hogarth Litterst
Dittus Communications Inc.,
1000 Thomas Jefferson St, NW #311
Washington, DC 20007
(for questions or information)
The Child Online Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. 231 note, ("COPA"), as amended, established a temporary, 19-person Commission to study methods and technologies to help reduce access by minors to material on the World Wide Web that is harmful to minors. The COPA Commission is directed to submit a report to Congress, no later than October 21, 2000, on the results of this study, including:
a) a description of the technologies and methods identified by the study and the results of the analysis of each such technology and method;
b) the conclusions and recommendations of the Commission regarding each such technology or method;
c) recommendations for legislative or administrative actions to implement the conclusions of the Commission, and
d) a description of the technologies or methods that may meet the requirements for use as affirmative defenses to liability for purposes of section 231(c) of COPA.
The COPA Commission will hold three public hearings. On June 8-9, 2000, it will hold a hearing at the Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C., Room 432, on "one-click-away" resources, age verification systems, and creation of a top-level adult domain, such as .xxx or .adult domain. On July 20-21, 2000, it will hold a hearing on filtering and labeling systems, at a location to be determined. On August 3-4, 2000, it will hold a hearing on other technologies and methods, at a location to be determined.
Information solicited by this notice:
In connection with the first public hearing, the COPA Commission asks the public to submit comments on "one-click-away" resources, age verification systems, and creation of an adult domain. Comment is sought on any issue of fact, law or policy that may have bearing upon the COPA Commission's report insofar as it concerns these technologies.
The following are questions that may be considered at the June 8-9 hearing:
Common Resource(s) for parents to use to help protect minors (such as one-click-away)
- How often is the resource used?
- How often is the resource updated?
- In what particular ways does the resource assist parents?
- Is there any data regarding satisfaction of those who use the resource?
- How is the resource marketed or promoted?
- Does the resource help prevent access by children to web sites with materials harmful to minors?
- Does the resource help prevent problems associated with incoming email?
- What percentage of those who use the resource go on to select and use specific tools it identifies?
- Does the resource provide assistance to companies offering blocking or filtering services?
- What could be done to make it easier to locate the resource?
- What if anything could be done to increase usage of the resource?
- What if anything could be done to make the resource more effective?
- Should the availability of the resource be considered to provide a defense to prosecution under COPA?
- Does the resource provide any assistance to law enforcement?
- Does use of the resource create any data that implicates privacy rights?
- Does the existence of the resource raise any first amendment issues?
- Does the availability of the resource increase the likelihood that parents who wish to do so will be able to restrict access by their children to materials harmful to minors?
- What other information might usefully be included in a common resource?
- Are there legal or other barriers to the sharing of useful information via this common resource?
- Is there a business model that assures continued availability and enhancement of this common resource?
- Would governmental action to subsidize or regulate this common resource raise first amendment or other issues?
- What reason is there to believe that any problems in parental adoption of various technologies or methods or restraining access by their children are due to lack of information or other tools that would be provided by a common resource?
- Could the resource be made more readily available or more easily used if it were tied into the browser in some more direct way (e.g., as an always-visible icon)? Do you have reason to believe that the Internet industry would support creation of something like an always-visible icon? Should the government require browsers or operating system software to include such an icon?
- Should web sites with material harmful to minors be required to link to such a common resource?
- Should restrictions on unsolicited email be relaxed with respect to messages advertising such a resource?
- What evidence is there regarding the extent to which Internet using parents are actually aware of the resource?
- If the resource lists safe sites, are those listings accurate and up to date?
- What percentage of parents wants to limit their childrens access to only safe sites listed in such a resource?
- Is there a technological means of assuring that a child only has access to the listed safe sites?
- What kinds of useful material would be rendered unavailable to children if only listed safe sites could be visited?
Establishment of a [top level] domain name for any material that is harmful to minors
- Who would (or can) make the decision to establish such a domain name?
- If the domain were voluntary, would it attract HtM web sites? How?
- How would such a domain be used in connection with specific pages of web sites that were HtM, where the rest of the site is not HtM?
- If use of the domain were mandatory, would this raise significant first amendment issues?
- If US law required use of the domain, would this lead HtM sites to move offshore?
- What percentage of HtM sites would likely move to the new domain?
- Would use of this domain make filtering more effective?
- How would use of such a domain relate to email?
- What would be the costs to web sites of relocating to such a domain?
- Would such a domain create an attractive nuisance that made it easier for children to find HtM materials?
- Would any of the above analysis differ depending on whether the domain were a top level domain, a second level domain, or some other level of domain?
- What would prevent creation of deep links to pages within such a domain from web pages outside the domain?
- Is it desirable to prevent deep links to pages within such a domain from web pages outside the domain?
- Would creation of such a domain eliminate any need for age verification?
- Should use of such a domain provide a defense to a charge under COPA?
- Would creation and use of such a domain raise privacy issues?
- If use of the domain were mandatory, how would such a law be enforced?
- How would web sites determine whether they should or must put particular materials into the new domain?
- Would materials from the new domain show up in results produced by net search engines?
- What would reasonably be projected re the impact of such a domain on adoption by parents of filters that filter out sites in the domain?
- What would be the implication of creation of a domain designed to hold only NON-HtM materials (e.g., .kids?)
Age Verification systems
- Does the system accurately identify any user as over a certain age?
- How does the system accurately identify any user as over a certain age?
- Is use of the system merely to verify age allowed?
- How widely available is the system to end users?
- How much does it cost end users to use the system?
- How much does it cost a web site to use the system?
- How easy is it for children to obtain false age identification for use online?
- How easy is it for parents to monitor their childrens use of the system?
- Does the system allow differentiation or distinction with regard to children of different ages?
- Do systems now in use substantially impact access by children to HtM material?
- Should use of the system by a web site provide a defense to a COPA charge?
- Does the use of such a system create threats to privacy?
- Does the use of such a system comply with COPPA?
- Would mandatory use of the system raise significant first amendment issues?
- Does use of the system assist or detract from law enforcement in any way?
- Should use of the system be made mandatory for users? For web sites?
- Can the system be tightly integrated with web browsers?
- Does use of the system have implications for system security?
- How does the system relate to web use in libraries? From work?
- Is there any way to derive a good inference of age from data regarding a user and his or her net use that is already available and accessible by a web site?
- What is the likely evolution of certificates, passports, biometrics and other net identifiers independent of the HtM issue? Does this have implications for the questions facing the Commission?
Comments filed with the COPA Commission will be made available to the public. Comments filed by 5:00 p.m. on June 2, 2000 will be made available to the COPA Commissioners for consideration in advance of the hearing. The record will remain open for further public comments until a date to be announced at the last of the three hearings.
- How does the burden of adopting age verification technology compare with the burden of self-labeling by web sites with HtM materials?
In an upcoming notice, the COPA Commission will make public the agenda for the June 8-9 hearing.