Last week I presented the concepts from Microsoft's paper, "Digital Playgrounds: Creating Safer Online Environments for Children," at the Internet Safety Technical Task Force (ISTTF) Open Meeting at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society in Cambridge, Mass.

The Digital Playgrounds paper outlines a framework that would enable the creation of optional online "walled gardens," specifically for children and trusted adults. These online sites would only be accessible by folks with trusted and age verified ‘digital identities.'  This framework suggests achieving this by allowing trusted offline parties, who have the ability to meet with a parent and child in real life, examine the appropriate documents and then issue extremely secure digital identities based on these in in-person proofing moments. The framework we have outlined is largely a technical solution to the age verification challenge, but we believe that the nontechnical aspects of the problem will be as difficult to solve as the technical ones, if not more so. For example, government and industry will need to work together on designing the necessary criteria for in-person proofing events as well as the subsequent issuing, auditing and revoking of these digital identity cards.   

My presentation was but one of a number of presentations over the day and half long meeting. Facebook, MySpace, VeriSign, and large number of other companies provided interesting solutions of their own to similar and related online safety challenges.

You can read our whole paper here: Digital Playgrounds: Creating Safer Online Environments for Children              

The rest of the presentations are posted here.

--Jules Cohen