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It isn’t necessarily impossible to verify people’s ages online. porn industry recently proposed a new system of age verification involving users’ bank information or even medical records.
Some porn sites–which can be liable for purveying obscene material to minors–require customers to enter credit card information or driver’s license numbers. Hot or Not has not, so far, been implicated in the Anderson case, and precedents suggest that it wouldn’t be found liable anyway.
Zachery Anderson was 19 when he clicked the “heart” on a picture of a 17-year-old girl who turned up in his matches on the dating app “Hot or Not.” That click would come to play an outsize role in his life when the girl turned out to be 14–a fact he discovered only after they met and had sex, the reported.
The age of consent in Michigan–where she lives and where they hooked up–is 16.
One study last year found that half of children 10 and under were on social networking sites.
This is hardly the first time a dating app has facilitated an underage hook-up; the issue has been around about as long as people have been using the Internet for sex, which is to say as long as the Internet has been widely available.
(Out-of-bounds residences now include his parents’ house.) During his five-year probation, he won’t be allowed to access the Internet–a particularly painful mandate for Anderson, who’s an aspiring computer scientist. Anderson’s case raises questions not only about whether the restrictions on convicts are out of proportion and whether consensual sex between teenagers should be criminalized, and it also renews the debate about whether dating apps–particularly sites like Hot or Not, which is geared toward teens–might take stronger measures to verify users’ ages.
Neither the girl nor her mother wanted Anderson to be prosecuted, and the judges quoted in the Times piece seem more interested in punishing Anderson for pursuing casual sex and using the Internet as a dating tool than determining whether he belongs on a list of pedophiles. A spokesman for Hot or Not told Women in the World that users between the ages of 13 and 17 can’t interact with or even see the profiles of 18-and-older users–though the girl was posing as a 17-year-old when she and Anderson connected.
As often occurs, websites appear and operate largely unnoticed until our attention is draw to them through a serious physical world incident or concern.In March, a federal court found Grindr not liable in the case.Forbes also pointed out a similar 2007 case in which the website Sex was, on the basis of the same law, excused from facilitating an illegal hookup between an adult man and an underage woman representing herself as over 18.Three years ago, the dating site Skout came under fire after three men posed as teens in order to connect with actual teens.Skout briefly shut down its service for teens, but reopened just a month later, saying it had strengthened its age verification by relying more heavily on…Facebook.
Having dealt in depth with child sex offenders, Brett sees this site as a “shopping centre for predators”.