NetIDme Ltd. has announced the launch of a tool for young people to check the identity and age of people they talk to online.
The technology - a virtual ID card that can be swapped online - will help make online chat and social networking a safer place for young people and guard against Internet grooming, according to the announcement. It has been tested at U.K. schools over the past two years and is available to buy from the company's Web site at http://www.netidme.com in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia.
It was developed by the founder of Glasgow-based Internet ID verification company NetIDme Ltd. after he was concerned over his daughter using instant messaging. Alex Hewitt was astonished to find that of the 150 people on his daughter's buddy list - online friend list - she could verify the age and identity of fewer than 50.
Buying a Net-ID is similar to applying for a passport. Kids register the Web site for a Net-ID with the consent of their parent or guardian, verified by credit or debit card. Parent and child then complete a form, which must be signed by a professional who knows the child or stamped by the child's school. Other checks are applied by NetIDme using software designed and developed by the company. Annual subscription costs are $18.99.
Users are awarded points for staying safe online by using their Net-ID. They can exchange points for rewards such as cinema tickets and CDs. Initial registration takes a couple of minutes while the verification process takes between two and 14 days. Net-IDs list only a person's first name, age, and general location.
In addition, the company is launching ChatShield, which works with MSN Messenger. This product is aimed at younger children who may be too young to appreciate the idea of stranger danger, but wish to use instant messaging. Once it is installed, parents can set ChatShield to only allow their child to chat with a person under a certain age who has been verified and has a Net-ID.
Source: NetIDme Ltd., http://www.netidme.com