THE KIDS.US INTERNET DOMAIN:
DEVELOPING A SAFE PLACE ON THE INTERNET
WEDNESDAY, JULY 14, 2004
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
HERBERT C. HOOVER BUILDING
1401 CONSTITUTION AVENUE, NW
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20230
Reported and transcribed by: Pamela Wallace
Mr. Michael D. Gallagher, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information
Mr. David Burt, Public Relations Manager, Secure Computing
Ms. Kelly Cole, Majority Counsel, Community on Energy and Commerce, U.S. House of Representatives
Mr. Raymond Fitzgerald, Legislative Director, Office of
Congressman John Shimkus
Dr. Margaret Honey, Executive Director, Center for Children and Technology
Mr. Ron Laney, Director, Child Protection Division, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice
Dr. Lawrence Peters, Director, Mid-Atlantic Regional Technology in Education Consortium
Dr. Gary L. Lacy, Deputy Executive Director of Programs, Policies and Strategies, National Parent Teacher Association
Ms. Sara DeWitt, Director, PBS Kids and Parents Interactive,
Mr. Keith Drazek, Registry Relations Manager, NeuStar, Inc.
Mr. Mike Skagerlind, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Nickelodeon
Ms. Teri L. Schroeder, President/Program Director, I-Safe America
P R O C E E D I N G S
MR. GALLAGHER: Good morning everybody. Thank you for coming out here to the Department of Commerce this morning. Thank you to our special guest, who I'll introduce in a minute. Just one comment, watching Mr. Shimkus work each one of you, as you can tell the difference between those public servants that are elected, and those that are appointed, because John made it a point to reach out to each one of you, and those of us in the Administration often don't do that. It's a pleasure to have you here in our building.
Weíre here for a very important purpose, and it's even more important given the recent Supreme Court activity to make sure our kids are in a safe place on the internet. The kids.us space was created by legislation that Mr. Shimkus sponsored and worked hard to pass, the President signed on December 4, 2002. And a few of those quotes are helpful to guide our thinking today, and I thought I'd just share a few.
The first was what the President said during the signing ceremony. ďThe bill I sign today will create a new place on the internet thatís safe for our children to learn, and play, and to explore. He went on the say that, ďthis bill is a wise and necessary step to safeguard out children while they use computers and discover the great possibilities of the internet.Ē And the internet, we've spoken to the importance of it as being a foundational element of our new innovation economy here in the United States. In fact, now we're seeing that spread throughout the world. It's a wonderful platform for commerce, it's a wonderful platform for enhanced health care, and educational opportunities. Unfortunately, it's also a place of some danger to our youth.
In May, Mr. Shimkus and the House Commerce Committee had a hearing on exactly the challenges that are faced by our children, and then again just to check the status of where we were in compliance with the act. And at the time we used statistics from our own ďA Nation OnlineĒ report which reveled 60 percent of the American children between 5 and 17 used the internet. And 99 percent of public schools have access to the internet, according to the Department of Education, National Educational Center for Statistics, that was in fall of 2002. So weíre confident that those numbers are higher.
And a more disturbing note, the FBI considers online child pornography and child exploitation is a most significant cybercon problem confronting the FBI, that involves crimes between children, that includes fiscal years 1996. Child pornography cases opened by the FBI went from 113 to 2,370, representing a nearly 2000 percent increase in six years. So it's important that we look at these issues.
Itís important that we do good work. And in looking at today's forum, Developing A Safe Place On The Internet For Children, weíre going to address a whole range of issues. But there are more pertinent issues and much more important to all of us -- given the Supreme Court recent decision finding about COPA and unconstitutionality and we're sending it back to Federal District Court for further review. And specifically the court recognizing the kids.us domain, and the internet filters as the, perhaps, more appropriate, less restrictive alternatives for regulating content on the internet.
And so the administration will continue its efforts to safeguard children as they develop computer skills as we partnership with Mr. Shimkus and his colleagues at the House Commerce Committee.
Just real briefly about the structure of today. We have two panels. The first panel will examine the current state of the kids.us domain, parents and educators use of the kids future domain content and applications, and the domain's ability in addressing community needs, and the internet relationship between kids.us and blocking technologies.
The second panel, which will be moderated by John Kneuer of NTIA, will focus on the process of developing and registering a site kids.us, as well as lessons learned from a content providerís challenges, content providers and resources available to access them.
And now, it's my pleasure, and we're honored to have here today, John Shimkus, who is the original Congressional sponsor of the kids. Efficiency Act of 2002.
Mr. Shimkus is a Republican, first elected to Congress in 1996. He serves the 19th District, Illinois. A district which extends more than 200 miles, covering much of 30 counties in rural heartland. He graduated from West Point, was trained in the Army as a Ranger, and a paratrooper. He moved out to Collensville in Illinois where he held public office. And in 1996, he became a member of the House of Commerce Committee, and is very active on the Energy & Air Quality subcommittee. During the 108th Congress, Mr. Shimkus, along with Chairman Fred Upton, worked together to pass the Dot Kids Act which the President signed on December 4, 2002. Neither Mr. Markey or Mr. Upton were able to be here today. But please, do take back our appreciation for their hard work, and our appreciation for their partnership together in our exercise that we will be discussing today.
There is no bigger champion and advocate of the kids.us domain than Mr. Shimkus. Soon kids will have their own playground on the internet. When surfing on the kids.us domain, parents can rest assured that their kids are gaining educational and entertainment benefits of the internet without exposure to predator and inappropriate content. Besides his work on the kids.us legislation, Congressman Shimkus has been very active in other pieces of legislation, including the law establishing safety guidelines for booster seats, Children in Motor Vehicles. On top of this, he currently serves as Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves. And it should also be noted that John was the victorious pitcher at last week's Congressional baseball game, leading the Republican's 14 to 7. And my staff tells me that you also got a couple of hits in that effort as well. He is married, and has three active internet users at his home, ages between 4 and 11. And John, welcome to the Department of Commerce. On behalf of the Secretary and myself, we look forward to hearing your remarks and continuing your work together.
CONGRESSMAN SHIMKUS: Thank you. It's great to finally get down here on a committee that has oversight. This is the first time I've actually put my foot in the building. I don't know if that's good or bad, it just is. Let me thank you all for being here. First, Ray Fitzgerald, who works on telecom issues for me. Now, Ray, raise your hand so we can see you, and ask questions, and harass you later on. He wrote my talking points which Iím going to disregard most of them. He's sort of used to that because when I hear introductions, and I get around folks who are involved in this line of work, a lot of emotions come out.
My statement when the President signed this bill was, a playground for kids, a safe playground for kids. Well we want -- really the intent is to extend the playground. I mean that's really the nuts and bolts of where we are at today.
How do we expand the playground? You're going to have a lot of meetings, I mean panels and stuff. I think from a public policy arena, from someone who deals with the legislative end of this business, you may come up with some ideas on how we can continue to be helpful. And I would then ask you to get that information back to us so that we can then help make this a reality. I know thereís a lot of Ė- obviously I'm very parochial, and I have a big self interest in this being successful. And I've not been shy about saying, I'm doing all I can on my part to make this helpful, from calling people, to encouraging, to showing up here. When I do a job I like to see it finish, and we're not finished. I mean we're getting there, but we still have a lot of work to do.
Let me briefly Ė- there's no original -- I don't think there's any original ideas left in the world today. I don't want to take credit for having Mount Olympus come down and provide the stimulus and idea of kids.us. Really I know Pat Danner did some work, former Congressman from Missouri, Steve Largent, when he was here, we were talking about this stuff on the internet. So this is kind of a thing that percolates over time. I do credit a lot of my work to Ed Markey. Of course, Kelly Cole, who just came in. Sorry Kelly. And she, on the committee, was tremendously helpful, along with Courtney Anderson, who now works for Senator Brownback.
These are all parts of the cog of the gear that helped move this along, and a lot of credit goes to them. Those are also people you should search out as we try to make sure that this is -- we get full exploitation of this site. Fred Upton was a great partner as he helped move us through the committee to final passage.
I pulled up the site two days ago, as I do every now and again, just to see what's going on. And I have a four year old, a nine year old, an 11 year old. And the reality is, for someone Ė- Iím on the high-tech committee of Congress, but I'm technically illiterate really, which is always a concern. I'm not here in Washington a lot of times. My 11 year old is smarter than I am on the computer now. He is probably beyond the point already. He's already complaining about what we've taken off access to him. Not complaining, but saying, how come I can't do this anymore, how come I can't do that. Now a nine year old, this is perfect for him still. And definitely, by next year, the four year old will be on the kids.us site. That's going to be where his search engine goes to for the internet, and that's all. When he starts, that's where he's going to be until he gets to an age and realizes there's something else out there, and we need to then help him go. So I think that's what should be our thought process as we continue to talk through this stuff.
I have an M.B.A. from Southern Illinois University, but I never really worked in business. I've always been in public service, either in the Army or teaching, or in public policy through elected office. But I think we have to continue to identify where our markets is and what niche is it that we want to get to. And I think that niche is, now for me it's going to be, four through nine, four through ten, even though legislation says 13 and under. Basically my experience with my son, he's probably past that. So I'm real excited.
I'm also excited that today the Viacom is announcing Nickjr.kids.us, Nick.kids.us, they are actually huge additions to our roster now. But these are good additions because they're what kids are watching today. That is what the kids are watching on TV. So if you can marry that with a site -- and I always complain or talk about the chicken and the egg, what's going to come first. The more we have very solid individuals in the market of addressing and educating in an appropriate manner in the public in the media, and then we get them to kids.us, I think we're all going to be helpful.
NeuStar has been a great partner ever since we started talking about this, and I appreciate their work. I would just end, I think, by just saying, help us use this time to help us make this site better. I think the site's great. The question is, how do we get more participants, and move forward? And I will pledge my work, my time, my efforts in any arena any of you would like to have. Whether it's calling individuals, whether it's meeting with folks, even discussing the legislative and fixes and how we can be helpful. But I think for the sake of our children, especially again my four year old, and court rulings and stuff, the public expects us to do something to help protect our children. My work with a lot of other groups on children abduction, and stuff like that, we know the dangers out there. So this will work, and we just need to continue to build upon the foundational blocks that we have established right now.
So I thank you for this day, this opportunity to roll this baby out. And I want to ask you to keep up the great work, and I look forward to working with you.
MR. GALLAGHER: Thank you, Congressman Shimkus, for your leadership, and it's just a pleasure to have John here to start our work today. But that's just the beginning. We have a very informative day ahead for all of us.
In the next stage we're going to ask Jerry Kovak and Keith Drazek to come forward and take us through the website. As most of you know, NeuStar manages the kids.us space, and insures that all the content on the web is suitable for children up to 13 years of age. We appreciate NeuStar's participation in the forum as a safe internet destination for children. And certainly to meet the call and the challenge from Mr. Shimkus in the concern and the genuine commitment that he has to making sure that this site is a success for those who put content on there, but most important for their children. So if we could have Jerry and Keith come forward, we'll move to that stage of the program.
MR. KOVAK: Thank you, Mike, and congratulations to you. It's your designation now, as being officially the Assistant Secretary. We're obviously pleased to be having a chance to work with you and your team.
I must say that NeuStar is the official registry operator of kids.us. Itís extremely fortunate to have such a wonderful group of supporters to work with us as colleagues in trying to make this site an overwhelming success. John Shimkus has been an outstanding leader, and he has had help from his colleagues, both in the Senate and House side. And Mike, your team here has been absolutely wonderful in terms of working with us through developing the material at the outset, and putting together programs that have the purpose of expanding the range, and the scope, and the effectiveness of the domain. And I would be derelict in not recognizing Kelly, who was one of the real Congressional leaders in working with us and helping to forge a piece of legislation that set into motion what we believed will be ultimately a tremendous success and service to the young people of this country.
So NeuStar is not new to the world of trying to mesh public policy with the business world. We're just extremely fortunate, particularly in this case, to have such wonderful colleagues in the Department, and in the House, and in Senate to help us with that task.
We are very proud of our role in the kids.us effort. We have worked very hard at putting together a program that is going to increasingly be effective. We have met every deadline that has been put forth. In fact, we've exceeded the deadlines, and that's through the help of a lot of hard-working people within NeuStar, and people here within the Department and on the Hill.
I would also like to introduce two of my distinguished colleagues from NeuStar who are here with me. One of whom is Keith Drazek, and you'll be hearing from Keith very shortly. Keith is really the person in the registry business, you know, that is responsible for day-to-day management of this. The person who has been with this project, really from the outset, has been Mindy Ginsberg, who is NeuStar's Director of Government Relations, and has just done a wonderful job with respect to handling the public policy interface, with respect to NeuStar and the Department and on the Hill. So we're very proud of our role. We're extremely proud of the fact that weíve been given this responsibility, and we're extremely fortunate to be able to work with such wonderful colleagues.
So with that, I'm going to turn the microphone over to Keith, whose is going to walk us through more of the details of the program and give us a lot more background with respect to the genesis and what's been happening and what we plan to do in the future with respect to growing the program. Keith.
MR. DRAZEK: Thank you, Jerry. Good morning everybody. Just a few minutes of remarks before I get to the actual presentation. And if anybody doesn't yet have a kids.us football, there are more outside. So they'll be available after the presentation, after the forum.
My name is Keith Drazek, and I'm a Register Relations Manager at NeuStar, the registry operator for the kids.us domain. One of my responsibilities, as a member of NeuStarís kids.us team, is to work closely with the dominion registrars and content providers, to help manage the process of turning up their kids.us websites. For those of us at NeuStar that work with kids.us on a daily basis, it's an exciting time, and we value the opportunity to be involved with implementing a program with such potential to do good, and was created with the remarkable vision for the safety of America's children.
Over the last 10 months, 16 excellent kids.us websites have been developed, and have passed the comprehensive review process required by law. Each of these sites offers fun and interesting content, and we hope that it will generate even greater interest in kids.us moving forward.
This morning I'll be taking you on a live tour of the sites we have today. So for the next ten minutes I'm going to give you a brief tour of the content currently available on the kids.us domain, and a quick overview of kids.us portal website. I hope this will provide a framework for the upcoming panel discussions. So let's get started.
For those of you participating by webcast, I'll try to describe where we're going so you can follow along. But be careful, as I found out by preparing for today's show and tell, these games can be a lot of fun even for adults. Forgive me for sitting through this portion. Can everybody hear me okay? All right.
This is the kids.us main web page, which is what weíre calling the kids.us directory or portal. It basically has a number of links on the website, and I'll start by going through a little bit about the actual kids.us site, and the registration process, and the information just very briefly just to lay out a framework. And then moving forward, I'll get into the more interesting and exciting information content that's available from some of the providers.
So basically, looking here we have, about kids.us. If we click on this, it basically brings you to a site that gives you information about kids.us, and about accreditation policies for registrars. These are the resellers that we have that offer the domain names to market. A little bit of information about NeuStar. It talks about Content Policies, a little bit of Press Room, Frequently Asked Questions. There's a lot of good content on this website. In case you weren't sure how to get here, it's really kind of like the ďfor grownupsĒ portion of this site. Iíd encourage you to go here after the session today and take a look.
As far as registering a domain name, a kids.us domain name, you need to select a registrar, which is an internet domain and business term for reseller, because NeuStar does not sell to the end market. We're just the back end registry content provider. And we have a list of the registrars that are currently offering the domain. So you can basically go to any of these websites, or contact them by phone, and register a kids.us domain.
All right, so once a domain has been registered, a content provider needs to activate the content. But there's a content review process inherently built into the system. So in order to have content review, once it's been developed, a registrar domain name, owner, or content provider needs to submit their content to NeuStar for a review process so we can make sure and certify that the content on that website meets the terms and requirements of the legislation, that it is safe for children under the age of 13, and that it meets all the terms and conditions. And NeuStar is responsible for certifying that.
So just a quick example here of the log in process, and we wonít spend too much time on this, I promise, just so people have an understanding of what's involved. You log into the Content Review Management System, CMS, we call it, and there's a bunch of different links here, Purchase Content Review, you put in the domain name, you put in the URLs that you want to have that resolve to, you can select different categories, and basically then submit the content. And just so everybody knows, the content review process today is taking just a few days to do, depending on the complexity of the website, depending on whether content violations are identified during that process. We are turning around content review in literally just two or three days at this point. I think it's important for people to understand, content providers to understand, that itís not an onerous process. It does not delay the turning up of the content dramatically. It's working pretty well, so don't think it's going to take, like, weeks and weeks, because it won't.
And then there's also, importantly, a section here for parents for Ė- basically anybody out there who might happen to come across something in the kids.us space that might be considered, by their perception, a content violation. We have a reporting mechanism that basically allows anybody to submit concerns that they may have about content in the kids.us. space. And that it triggers a mechanism within NeuStar for reviewing that content immediately, and if there are violations, potentially bringing down the site.
There are three levels or three tiers of violations that we have and different rules that we have built in to basically take down these sites, if there are content violations. But it's something that we are prepared and will do, if necessary. So that's just a little bit about that.
Enough with the technical stuff, let's get on to the fun stuff. The directory here -- we've got these different tabs. Right now they all, basically, all the sites are listed on each of the tabs. And what I'd like to do is to start with Ė- we did the kids.us because in honor of the newly turned live Nickelodeon site, let's go ahead and start with them. And they have Nick.kids.us and NickJr.kids.us. And they're both really interesting sites. I think it's important to note that for the content that's available in the kids.us space, there's a wide variety of content that's there. You have sites with games, but you also have sites with more educational and informational content. And it's one of those things where thereís just a wide variety of opportunities, I think, for different types of content to be provided within the space, and thatís already evident within the 16 sites we have today.
So just to give you a little bit of idea, some of the games that are out there. This is one I was playing last night, and it talks about Jellyfish Shuffleboard, Sponge Bob Square, and it gives you some different options. And I don't know if everybody can hear the volume on this, but thereís some good stuff out here. Let's play the high score challenge, shall we? Weíll get some game hints in case youíre not sure what your doing. That certainly is the case with me. And basically, you have this little arrow here, you just click on it. It's a little touchy but a lot of fun. I don't know if this is the case in real shuffleboard or not, but you can actually lose points over here in the minus 10 section, and that was a little disturbing to me. So, any way, it's a good time all the way around.
So, letís head back, check out some other stuff. Weíve got a bowling game. Again you have, How To Play, High Scores. There's a lot of interesting stuff here. This one apparently you can control the ball with the arrow keys. I certainly don't have the touch for this yet, but it's pretty good stuff. So, let's see Ė
(Whereupon, a demonstration of the bowling game is shown.)
MR. DRAZEK: That's about it. I'm not much of a bowler any way.
All right, so this is just a lot of really interesting content out there for kids. And to be able to play these games online in a safe environment, I really think is a tremendous opportunity for parents to be able to know that they can go to these sites, they can allow their children to use these sites, and to feel confident that theyíre not going to come to across anything that's problematic. I just think it's really great.
So, let's check out the NickJr.kids.us. And again, you can see there's obviously a difference in terms of the age focus of some these. But we'll move on as far as time, we've got some really good stuff here. And a lot of the content is really rich. Thereís just a lot of interesting things that you can do. So weíre really pleased to have Nickelodeon sites up and running. That's a great addition to the kids.us space.
So let's go check out Smithsonian. This is an example of some of the more educational less game or entertainment focus, but there's still some terrific content on here. I mean this section right here, talking about the pandas at the zoo. What kid doesn't love a panda? What adult doesn't love a panda? It's just a lot of terrific information here for kids. And it goes on and on, it's a lot of stuff here. And to look at an example of some of the really rich content in terms of the graphics, and the things that are moving. This stuff is really going to motivate kids to come back to the kids.us space, and we're just really thrilled that this kind of content exists. That's a good example of the Smithsonian site.
(Whereupon, the Apollo 11 website was shown.)
MR. DRAZEK: Okay. Letís checkout PBSkids.us. Here's another terrific site with a lot of great stuff. I selected some last night. Letís check Sesame Street, got to love Sesame Street. Obviously you'll see that there's a wide range of age ranges.
(Whereupon, the Big Bird website was demonstrated.)
MR. DRAZEK: I found in playing around with this over the last couple of days that my memory is not nearly as good as I thought it was. I'll tell you, I have to say, a lot of the sites that we have content in kids.us have a lot of these type of concentration type games, lots of different variations. But it's one of those things where I think I should have been playing these types of games all along. So that's a great example of the Sesame Street.
We also have -- this was a really interesting site I thought, the Zoomer Flip and the Zoom Pendulum. Again it's kind of a game, but it's also more educational. This one, again, another example of the concentration type game, trying to find a match. You see down here, how long can you go. I was over 100 rounds yesterday. It took me forever to get it done, but it's great. And it's not necessarily an easy thing, something that the kids would love to do. It helps them with their memory skills.
And Zoom Pendulum here, it has -- again it's a little bit of an educational site here with some good content that kind of talks about the motions of the pendulum. For anybody that used to go to the Natural History Museum where they have the pendulum hanging, I think it was the Natural History -- made the different shapes, itís a good example of how that works, why it does that, and you actually get to go through and experiment with it.
So, click the up or down buttons, let it go, and it actually will draw the shape that the pendulum would make based on the length of string. You can adjust that, and it changes it. Thatís really cool. So anyway, a learning opportunity, but it's something that's fun too.
Next, we'll move on to the Noah sites, Noah.kids.us. There's some terrific information here for kids, obviously. It talks about different weather systems that are out there. I'm not going to do it justice as somebody from Noah might, but there's some really, really good information here for kids. A number of different tabs, very educational. It gives them a lot of information, but then again, it's in a safe and secure environment, and that's really the key. It's good stuff. It talks about carbon monoxide, obviously a major concern.
Information like this, in the hands of kids, where parents may not be aware of it, can really, really make a difference in terms of the safety of a family. I think a site like this would be a real service to families.
Okay, just a couple more here, then we'll move on to the panels. We have FirstGov.kids.us. This is a good example of a website that doesn't necessarily have a whole lot of interactive content, but it's a tremendous resource for parents, I think, in terms of providing information on other possible websites that might be of interest to them and their kids.
So this is a good example of how kids.us is not only a resource for children, but it's actually a resource for parents as well. Parents can go to this website and find different types of sites that might be available. Notice that they're not linked, which is one of the content restrictions in a kids.us space. We don't allow hyper-links out of the kids.us domain, but it does provide the information for parents. So if they did want to go and visit other sites, they have the opportunity and the resources to do that.
I mean this is just one page, and look at all the different tabs and categories that you can select. Each one just has a remarkable number of websites that FirstGov is identified as being a quality resource for kids. I think it's a really good example of what the possibilities are for this space. Not everything has to be exactly the same, and not everything has to be a game, although that rich type of content certainly is going to be one of the important things to keep kids coming back to kids.us space.
ABCkids.kids.us, another site with very rich content. I was playing this card game, Card Clash, itís good stuff. Itís the best week at work I've had in a long time. You get to pick your opponent, pick your deck of cards, and it's basically a game where you each play one card, and whoever has the higher card takes it. If you have a draw, you put down three cards, and whoever then rolls the next one, is the highest one, wins all the cards in that stack. Playing this last night, I can say, out of an entire hand, I only won once. So it's not rigged for the kids. They can absolutely lose this game or maybe it's just me, I don't know. It's just a lot of fun content on here.
This is the Card Clash, where they each roll three cards and then you go clash. I get all three of those cards under his stack. So anyway, that's just another good example.
All right, let's just do one more, and then we'll move on to the next stage of today's forum. Iím going to do -- okay, let me go to Minnesota.kids.us. Another site that gives an example of the variety of types of sites that we can have. I mean this is a pretty basic site, but it's got a lot of really good stuff in here. Minnesota.kids.us, Cool Things Minnesota Kids Have Done. You click on all these different kinds of categories, okay. Minnesota Kids Win Scholarships, it tells kids what scholarships are. It tells them what they need to be considering if they're interested in a scholarship someday. It goes on to talk about specific people from Minnesota that actually have won scholarships, and what they've done, and where they've gone on to. I just think that this is a really good example of opportunities out there, whether it's states, or local, or school groups, or whatever it might be. Thereís just a lot of creativity that can exist in this space.
Anyway, so that is basically just an overview of what kind of content exists in the kids.us space. It's not a comprehensive review because there is a lot more here. And I think that you probably would get a lot more out of this if you go to the kids.us space yourselves and play around a little bit because it is a lot of fun.
MR. GALLAGHER: Well, thank you Jerry and Keith both. Especially Keith for your bravery to guide us around the technical part of this. Oftentimes those things donít go as expected. That was very smooth. Thank you.
At this point I would like to call our panelist for the first panel to come forward and sit where your name card -- take a seat where your names are noted, and we'll get going with the first panel, which is the Promise Of The kids.us space. And while we're doing that I just thought I'd introduce Ben Wu, who just walked into the back room. Ben is one of our technology leaders here in the Department and also our host here. This room is part of the Technology Administration. Ben, thank you for having us down this end of the hall.
Now the first thing I'd like to do is welcome our panelist in this first panel. It's a pleasure to have you all here. This will be a question and answer format, but we'll start over with David here. If you could just introduce yourself and kind of have -- how you got here, what youíre bringing to the table today for our discussion. And then once we've gone around the table, we'll run through some questions here that we already have come up with, and then we'll turn it over to the floor. And I'll promise you there'll be at least 15 minutes where weíll have questions from the floor for the panel to respond to. David, if you would get us going, that would be great.
MR. BURT: Hi, my name is David Burt, and I'm the Public Relations Manager for Secure Computing Corporation. We are the largest seller of filtering software to the public schools in the United States through our Smart Filter and N2H2 Brands. Weíve been in the filtering software business for about 10 years now and I'm here to address technology issues about how technology companies, specifically filtering companies, can work with the .kids.us domain.
MS. COLE: Hi, my name is Kelly Cole. I am Counsel to the House Energy and House Commerce Committee, which is currently being Chaired by Mr. Barton from Texas. I was one of the drafters of the kids.us legislation, one of my proudest accomplishments, I must say actually. So if you've got any specific questions about why we did what we did, why it was drafted a certain way, those are questions that I will certainly be able to answer.
MR. FITZGERALD: And I'm Ray Fitzgerald, Iím with Congressman Shimkus, who gave the very eloquent speech when he disregarded my talking points. I actually started doing telecom and internet issues, sort of, after all this took place. The person in our office who handled it has left to go to work with Senator Brombeck. I think she was here, her name is Cortney Anderson. So she did a great job at shepherding this through the committee. We had lots of meetings with lots of different people in an idea that started off a little different from the end product. And we took it through a lot of -- just a lot of meetings on it to get a final product that was workable. And I'm happy to answer any questions about what anybody thinks where Congress can go in the future.
While 16 sites is good, we want a lot more up and running. So the Congressman sort of dedicated himself to try to do what it takes. We've written letters to the Governors to try to get States to update. We've been working with a number of other groups whoíve expressed some interest. The last one was just this week. My boss had a brief meeting with the Baseball Hall Of Fame when they were in town. And they expressed some interest in possibly doing this, and some other groups like that were trying to focus on.
MR. GALLAGHER: Thanks, great. Welcome. Margaret?
DR. HONEY: Hi, I'm Margaret Honey with EDC Center for Children in Technology, and weíre a not-for-profit research and development organization that focuses on technologies in education. We work with schools in after school settings, with libraries, with museums. So we're really involved with many different kinds of organizations that focus on creating resources, developing content, delivering services that have to do with the ways in which kids and educators are using technologies.
MR. GALLAGHER: Gary?
MR. LACY: I'm Gary Lacy. I'm with the National PTA here in Washington. I would say to any of you who are not PTA members, see me, I'll give you an application. But we focus on a number of things, as you probably well know, certainly child safety issues, education, and we're very much concerned about safety and violence, and all the things, I think, that weíre talking about here today. Weíre also very concerned and interested in ways in which we can get, sort of, infuse parent involvement in a lot of these issues, which as I read through this, there seems to be a lot of great opportunities for that.
MR. GALLAGHER: Thanks Gary. Ron?
MR. LANEY: Good morning. My name is Ron Laney. I'm the Associate Administrator for the Child Protection Division in the Office of Juvenile Justice and Links Prevention, Department of Justice. And as in child protection, obviously, we're involved in a lot of child protection issues. One of them which is we run an internet crime and task force program nationwide, as well as we also fund a National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which has a cyberspace, cyber tip line and other kinds of things. We also fund I-Safe. I know theyíre here, and will be talking in the next panel. And we work with web Wide Kids, and we work with a lot of different internet safety groups, and also on investigations. And hopefully, we'll be talking about some of the problems that we see in investigating these kind of cases across the county.
DR. PETERS: Hi, I director of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Technology Center Consortium at the Temple University in Philadelphia. Before that I worked on the Hill. So I'm very familiar with the issue of writing extensive remarks for members. Iím very interested in the whole digital divide issue, Iíve co-authored a book on that. In Philadelphia we've done some work really exploring just how kids use the internet differently depending on the background, and particularly their parentsí access to the computer, both at home and at work.
We've also partnered with a company, a nonprofit called CyberSmart.org, and have produced a video, a DVD in fact, which is designed to really make administrators, school administrators, aware of some of the legal issues related to accessing the internet at school. And we also got into the issue of what can teachers give. CyberSmart has a curriculum, a free curriculum you can download, that aims to help teachers and students use the internet responsibly. I can talk a little bit about that too.
MR. GALLAGHER: Thanks, Lawrence. And probably the best way to get us started in our discussion is to turn to our two staffers from the Hill here, and ask them, how did we get here? What kind of prompted the quest that weíre on today? And then, as you get more towards the current time, I think it would be helpful for all of us to know, what's the reaction on the Hill to the COPA decision from the Supreme Court, and where do you think we might be going next on the legislative front? Kelly, why don't we start with you
MS. COLE: How did we get here? Well, this is sort of a perennial issue, and everybody in the audience knows this, that a place like the internet that offers kids such opportunity and such growth in educational opportunities also has, sort of, this darker side. And the need that parents have expressed, certainly to members of Congress, about how to keep our kids safe when they're enjoying the internet is just something that we continue to battle. And we've passed a number of different laws over the past six or seven years trying to deal with that specific question. We've had some Constitutional issues pop-up now and again, because regulating content on the internet becomes a free speech issue, obviously, and how you walk that line between protecting free speech and protecting your children is one that's actually been a little difficult to find.
So to get around some of those Constitutional issues, Congressman Shimkus and Congressman Upton, and Congressman Markey all banded together to, sort of, take a different tact. Instead of saying where you can't go, what you can't put up on the internet, what you can't show children, let's take the opposite tact. Let's go the positive route. Let's provide for them a special place on the internet, dedicated solely to children, where they can go to find quality content, good content, educational and fun content. So that was Ė- what was driving us, was really the Constitution.
So thankfully we had some members who were willing to take up the mantel, fought very hard to get this done, and weíre sort of seeing the realization of it right now. And it's a battle that we continue to fight. And putting more content up becomes more and more important, particularly as the Assistant or the Secretary mentioned. This COPA decision that recently came out, which again dealing with what children can have access to on the internet becomes a very sticky first amendment issue, which I think makes kids.us the logical, the perfect answer to those questions that we've had to deal with, which is why we want to make this as successful as possible, because it really is one of the answers, and was actually even referenced in the court decision in the Supreme Court as one of the answers. So it's just a question right now of making people aware of it, frankly making people like all of you aware of it, and getting really good quality content up on the site.
MR. FITZGERALD: What's left? The one reason that probably -- you know, something happened in Congress, because we have a lot of Congressman that have kids, and weíd start working on policy that impacts their home life, maybe they would become very involved in it. My Congressman has Ė- regarding the court cases, we've seen the courts rule again and again as they try to protect children. Theyíre more focused on protecting children from being involved in online pornography. And they're prosecuting people who trade in pictures or whatever. Where Congress has been more focused on trying to protect children from viewing what's online, and thatís sort of a big difference between the two, and that's where we've had to face a lot of hurdles. I don't think that the court case is going to stop Congress from doing anything. I think more so it's going to encourage Congress to keep coming back.
We have had successes, .kids, and the Amber Alert Program, misleading domain names. And the Amber Alert Program has been great, and that's really Ė- we were just in Chicago with the Congressman, and he spoke to the broadcasters, and they had lunch on the Amber Alert Program. And the day we were in Chicago, an Amber Alert Program was issued for someone from India who was taken after contacting someone online. So it was sort of an online discussion where they met in the chat room, and the person met up with someone, and was able to take him, and the child was eventually found. But that's just another program where Congress has worked.
Now we may have to refine stuff, and we may have to come back and do things over and over again, but I don't think the court cases are really going to prevent Congress from moving forward. I mean even if we -- just to address the issue, a lot of Congress out there and a lot of their legislation out there face battles between free speech and protection of the kids. It's going to be difficult, and it's going to be a long battle, but I don't think youíre going see Congressmen step down from passing legislation on it.
MR. GALLAGHER: Well, just to follow up on that before we move on, to kind of the next phase of thinking here. For those of you who donít know full disclosure, Iím a proud alum of the House Commerce Committee staffer who actually worked for Rick White from Washington State. I very much enjoyed working on the committee, it's a great committee. And Rick was involved in the Communications Decency Act, which is one of the very early reiterations of this debate. Now it seems like a long, long time ago, but we still find ourselves struggling with the same issues. So we appreciate your commitment to help continue to find that balance in finding a positive solution as opposed to setting up these other penalties.
The other arrangements that are out there are more prohibitions. It certainly seems to be getting Ė- thereís at least a glimmer of a chance that the decision was five to four. They sent it back for further factual understanding after five years from when the case was originally brought. So there is, I think, the court still has a somewhat open mind on those two fronts.
Who are the leaders, the House Commerce leaders we mentioned them, who are those leading Senators on the push forward so that those folks here can know who to work with? And the second thing is, is there anybody that's against this type of legislation, and how should we work with them? What forces may have come up?
MS. COLE: There's really nobody against this. Who could be against kids? So it was interesting actually, Ray mentioned, when we were writing up this legislation how many meetings we had. We had endless meetings. I mean they went on for hours and hours with a variety of different people. We met with the ACLU. And frankly I wanted to make sure that if we drafted something like this, and we got it enacted into law, they weren't going to turn around and file a lawsuit to block it. You know even the ACLU liked the bill and didn't see it as any sort of fundamental or restriction on freedom of speech. So I can't think of anybody, or anyone, or any organization that's had any sort of problems with the concept of kids.us, and I'm very proud to say that.
MR. FITZGERALD: I would say no one has really talked to us about being against us. Obviously, there are some people who want to make sure we don't go above the certain line and restrict some free speeches, but on the Senate side you have Senator Brownbeck who has been leading the fight on indecency and stuff, and there's a lot on their committee, Mr. McCain and others, who have taken up the fight for a lot of these issues, and Mr. Ensign, yeah Senator from Nevada, was really the main person our office has worked with.
MR. GALLAGHER: Thank you for that. Well now, Ron, could you capture for us, and remind us why we're so concerned about the safety of kids on the internet? You have a unique perspective to offer, given your background, and your responsibilities in the government. So could you just kind of walk us through that, and kind of give us the feeling of how the kids.us space actually helped solve some of those problems?
MR. LANEY: Again let me also say that from the Senate side too, that was real key, and actually created the internet Crimes Against Children Program through Appropriations, Senator Gregg from New Hampshire, which has a lot of interest in this arena that we work with on a regular basis as we move forward. It was testimony from the FBI Director, and Ernie Allen from the Natural Center for Missing and Exploited Children said that the Federal Government could not handle this response by themselves. It was too great. They just didnít have the agents, and what have you. So the only thing we could do was involve the State and local people. And that's why we actually have 45 Regional Task Forces that actually investigate these covert operations. Each task force represent federal, state and local. As we look at the problems and issues we see across the country, obviously, we actually have those task forces going undercover online to try to talk with people out there who may, in fact, be child sexual predators on the internet.
One of the things that we see a lot of is pornography, we take child pornography very seriously obviously, thatís what weíre very interested in. But we also see other kinds of things, as well, that we might investigate through individual task forces. I think it's important to say that what happens on these sites that most children get out, and they get in the chat rooms all the time, and start chatting with each other. And it's not uncommon for our child sexual predators, that we've been dealing with for years, that used to be in playgrounds and all over the country, they still are, by the way. But the nice tool of the computer, which is as great as it is for educating children, as great as it is for America, I think still, at the same time, it's an opportunity for these child sexual predators to go online, play the role of a 15-year-old, 16 year-old, 18 year-old or whatever it maybe, and try to entice.
Iím going to give you one example. One of our New England task forcers ran across this natural case where they were actually in a Boston Bruins website. And inside that website, this particular child went in there, he was a big hockey fan, Boston Bruins fan, was actually sitting in there and chatting. And one of the things he made a comment on, on the website was, he said, you know my dad never takes me to a game. I'd love to see the Boston Bruins play. Well, we had one of our child sexual predators in there, and looked at that, and says, this is my opportunity, and starts chatting with him. Over a period of time he started chatting with this particular child about hockey in general, and weíre both Boston Bruins fans, and, oh, by the way, I happened to have two season tickets to the Boston Bruins.
Unfortunately for this child, this child did not go back to talk to the parents, and tell the parents that they had set up a meeting with this individual at a Bruins game. Later on, as we call a traveling case, this individual picked up the child, took him to the Bruins game, and also sexually exploited this child. And only after that we did we pick up, got the investigation, made the case, and obviously arrested him.
And not uncommon in our particular cases, once we get an individual like this you will normally find that there are several kids, and in some cases hundreds of kids. When we go in and start doing forensics on their computers, we find hundreds of victims or pictures of child pornography into the thousands. So weíre seeing a lot of that across the country. And its nice to see a kids.us website we can go out and educate the public.
All across the country one of the things we promised the President we would do, and the President had a one-day session on internet safety with some of our task force people, that we would do, we would have 45 sites up and running, which we currently do. And that we would actually be covering the entire country. So each regional task force actually covers all 50 states in their territories in their responsibility. So we in fact can put the message out there. There is a safe place for kids to go to, which is a big interest to, obviously, the President and everybody else. I think thatís one of the things we can help educate a lot of people out there with.
MR. GALLAGHER: Thank you, Ron, thank you for that. Speaking from experience, itís good to keep promises that you make to the President. Itís a good thing to do.
Gary, what can we do to make parents more aware of the space, and perhaps leverage the power of your organization, and more particularly itís members, to drive continued growth in kids.us and to answer the challenges posed by Ron, and the dangers that are out there, and the original genius for the idea that comes from Capitol Hill?
MR. LACY: Sure, well the PTA has six million members, we have 24,000 units. And it's an organization that really cares about these issues. And certainly I think one of the most important things that you can to is parent education. We found this out in terms of a number of different ways which we work with people. I would be very interested in trying to figure out how we could develop some types of partnerships which we could identify 25 - 30 PTAs, letís just say, and even begin to do what I call a road show, go and make presentations to parents. I think that if you really want to get at this, youíve got to go to the heart of it.
You know, we recognize the fact that parents are the first educators of their children. And I say parents, and I mustn't forget that there are some households that donít have what I call the parent or the caregiver. So weíre actually talking about anyone whoís really responsible for this child. So I think that one of the things that I think we could do, and what really sounds fundamentally right, is some kind of partnership.
Now one of the other issues that youíve got sort of going on, even in terms of educational issues, is that there's a great deal of pressure thatís put on parents, in terms of what weíre dealing with now is weíre dealing is a piece of very good legislation called, No Child Left Behind, which causes lots of pressures for kids, in terms of their ability to perform academically. Parents are looking for ways to help. In many ways there are a lot of sites up online, but are these the right sites to go to? Are they the safe sites? I think that there are all kinds of challenges around this too.
MR. GALLAGHER: Thank you for that, Gary. And the role of the parents, when I was on the Hill, letís see, it was the CEO of Intel was in, and he was explaining very clearly when we're talking about the treats that were posed to children. And he says, look these computers that come into the house through their parents, and these broadband or internet connections, those are provided by their parents. And thereís certainly an oversight and responsibility for parents to make sure their children are safe. The legislation acknowledges that, in initial points that are raised in it. But also they need tools and they need awareness to be able to answer those questions.
MR. LACY: Mike, if I could say one more thing. I've seen a lot of statistics around time on the internet. Iíve seen data also in terms of the number of households that donít have the, I say, the common area of computers that now have computers in the room, and I think the extent to which parents can get tips, the extent to which you can provide that level of education. I think they want it. And as the Congressman spoke earlier, a lot of our kids are much brighter than we are in terms of the ability to really manipulate these things. So I think in many instances, parents need the help, they want the help but there is this almost embarrassment of how to ask for it.
MR. GALLAGHER: A funny story just from my personal household. We are creatures of what we live. My son, when he was nine, came to me and said, Dad, whoís the Systems Administrator? Because he clearly had been prowling around where he didnít belong. It said, contact the Systems Administrator. And I said, that would be me, and you donít belong going wherever you were. But weíve had that discussion. So theyíre very resourceful at very early ages.
Now Margaret, youíve done a substantial amount of research in this area. What do you see in the development of kids, and their adoption and use of technology patterns there that we could leverage to, actually some energy we could harness, to further grow the kids.us space?
DR. HONEY: I would like to reinforce what Gary has been talking about. Actually, the largest growth area for children between the ages of 4 and 17 on the internet is the youngest age group. So children between ages of 4 and 6 are showing tremendous growth in getting online and accessing content. So it's incredibly important, when weíre talking about children of that age, that parents be informed.
And I actually think this is an initiative that really, sort of, merits a large-scale public service announcement, kind of campaign to get the word out. I think it's that important. And I think if parents know -- I mean, Larry and I were chatting earlier before the meeting began, and one of the things weíve known about educational technology content for many, many years is that parents are the drivers of what young children do. They make decisions.
Theyíve determined thatís the one sector of the educational technology market that has been consistently profitable over a 25 to 30 year history now. And that's because parents are paying attention to what it is young children are doing.
So I really think that if we do a good and effective job of getting the word out, through something like a large-scale public service campaign, the parents will embrace this. And then that will -- that all sorts of interesting things will happen from that. Obviously there's a lot of good content already available on the kids.us domain. And more content will follow. The more people who are aware, the more this resource will grow and become important.
MR. GALLAGHER: Thanks. And then is there anything in particular from your research besides the early adoption nature of very small children, 4 to 6 years old? Are there any other patterns or other key learning that youíd share with us that would point us in the right direction?
DR. HONEY: Actually, a lot of this researching Ė- give credit where credit is due. Grundwald Associates, Peter Grundwald has done a series of National Survey Studies that probably has the best information available on how kids are using the internet. And obviously entertainment is a big driver. But the second largest area in which or reason why kids go to the internet is for educational content, to do research, to find information they need for their schoolwork, for homework, all of those kinds of things. So educational resources and high quality educational resources that are, of course, safe, and rich and deep are very, very important components of childrenís internet use.
MR. GALLAGHER: Before we turn to some of the technology aspects of it, Lawrence, did you have anything to add along the lines of the last two presentations?
MR. PETERS: Yeah. Iíll just add to what Margaret was saying. Another good source for really what's happening to kids is the Pugh Internet Project, their study of teenagers and particularly online. And one of the things that really becomes strikingly clear from that report is the frustration that many students have with connecting with their schoolwork. Having teachers who are able to help them with their online questions. There are two responses that often teachers have, one is, donít use online sources or they donít assign homework that relates to internet sources. So having a .kids site for teachers to help these students, perhaps help both sides, particularly help the teachers really locate some sites that are going to be of educational valuable, is something I think that the Pugh Report endorses in a way.
I also wanted to just underscore what Gary was saying about parents and the PTA community. I would like to see if our organizations, the art techs themselves, could help in this effort to partner with local PTA's.
Because what we've also found in making that DVD that I mentioned earlier, was that typically thereís this kind of thing going on, schools think itís parents responsibility to control the internet space and to make sure the kids are not going places they shouldnít or creating websites they shouldnít. And vice versa, parents think itís the teachers role, or the schoolís role or just abdicates responsibility altogether. And it is, in fact, the parents roll, critically as Margaret said.
And so we have to bring that message to the local communities, particularly to high poverty communities where there is a lot of trust placed in the school as to these issues. And weíve got to try to help. Iíd like to see PTAs give out information on this regularly.
It should be ubiquitous, when you go into a video store or some other store, and you pick up the AOL material that allows you to try 1,000 hours of AOL, well there should be 1,000 hours of kids.us to try or something equivalent that gets it out there. We live in an age of marketing, we live in an age of trying to get the people's attention. Thereís a lot of competition for peopleís attention. We need to be as inventive and innovative as the AOLís, Coca Colaís, and everybody else out there, because that's what it's all about. Itís about trying to get people's attention in a very crowded space.
MR. GALLAGHER: Well, Gary, Lawrence mentioned the word partnership. Thatís a clear sign weíre making progress when we hear words like that on a panel. Whatís your reaction? When you look at the teachers, are they educated adequately about the risks here and the challenge, and is there something we can do here to help drive that realization a little further?
And then in particular, something crossed my mind, we just did an IPO, we didnít but Blackboard did an IPO -- that's a very high utility service to teachers and parents alike. Maybe there's some synergy in that space where there could be a recommendation or some sort of growth there. Whatís your reaction to what Lawrence had to say?
MR. LACY: Well, Iím a former Associate Dean of the School of Education. Teachers would love to be -- but the practical ends are they donít get it. Theyíre not getting it. Theyíre not getting it in terms of parent involvement, theyíre not getting it in terms or courses because different states have different licensure requirements in terms of courses, and theyíre not getting it. So I think that what you do for parents you should have for teachers as well. I think that they would welcome that.
Let me just share something with you very quickly of a partnership since weíre headed there. We have with a group, Cable In The Classroom about another issue, a very similar issue, but how do you start to work with kids, about television watching habits, tips, how to have discussions about something that happened.
What we're doing is, weíre doing a variety of things. One is weíve developed a brochure, we've developed a document that can be distributed to 20,000 parents. But more importantly, what we've done is that each time cable is put in the home of anyone, this cable person goes in with a brochure and passes it out to a family. Gets it to a family that has tips on it. And that's where I'm saying, where the rubber meets the highway, that's the level that we need to get down to.
MR. GALLAGHER: And so just as a logistical matter, for those out here who might go and build on these things, how does that happen in a real life way, with real life teachers, and say, is it back to school night? What would be the typical profile for that type of hand to hand interaction to occur.
MR. LACY: Well, whatís coming up now is the whole back-to-school effort thatís coming up. And you can certainly play on that. A lot of schools are looking for things to do. And I mentioned the road show, we will actually be doing a lot of those in terms of back-to-school where the PTA will -- not the PTA but Cable In The Classroom, will actually go to a PTA for that hour, and sort of just take it over, and work with the parents, and show them things about the V-Chip. Because as long as the V-Chip has been out the problem, of course, has gotten down to really an explanation and a set of instructions, usable instructions, for the parents. So I think that the back to school activities would be a wonderful opportunity to do that.
MR. GALLAGHER: I think that's a great idea. Your mentioning the V-Chip is a great transition to technology thatís out there that might be helpful and the software equivalent of the V-Chip which is the filtering technology. You know, David, whatís your thoughts about the use of filtering technology to accomplish some of the purposes that we're trying to get out?
MR. BURT: Well, first of all to address the issue of the use of filtering software with kids.us, that ability to do that, to limit use to only sites at .kids.us is in most of the filtering products. And, in fact, itís already in Microsoft Internet Explorer. You can actually go in and configure the settings by using the proof site list, and in introducing a wildcard * .kids.us, to limit your browser to only go to kids.us. So some of those tools are there. There arenít as many options in any product that I'm aware of. And I think that itís simply it hasnít the category kids.us hasnít grown enough. It hasnít been publicized enough. There's not enough awareness so parents aren't asking for it. So the companies arenít building it into their products, at this point.
In terms of the role that filtering software tools technology can play in protecting kids, I donít think thereís much question at this point. Iíve been talking about filtering software for a number of years now, and it used to be on a lot of panel discussions where the focus was on whether or not filtering software is a good idea or not. And we've really seemed to have kind of moved beyond that.
And I think that the Supreme Courtís recent decision and COPA really crystallized that. And it's very clear that they think filtering software is at least a big part of the solution. And filtering software tools have evolved a great deal since the industry first began, right around certainly after the web began in 1994 and 1995, is when the first filtering tools arrived. And the early ones were very crude devices that would block words like breast, and would block pages on breast cancer or chicken breasts. And there are a few tools out there like that you can still buy them if you want. I think actually theyíre free, the ones that work like that.
Itís really gotten quite a bit more sophisticated now, where filtering software has a lot of options that parents can employ. The newer devices, you even have them now sitting on broadband routers that parents can use to protect their whole network, that would not only incorporate filtering software but incorporate anti-virus, and intrusion prevention, and anti-spam, and things like that. And I think that the future is good there. I think there's a lot of development going on.
But in terms of the adoption of technology by parents, the numbers, I haven't seen any of the research lately, but the numbers were not so good. I think it was only about half or 40 percent or something like that, of parents with school-age children were using filtering software the last time I looked at it. I think those numbers were a couple of years old.
MR. GALLAGHER: Are you seeing economic forces that are increasing the demand for improved filtering technology, or is it something the industry is just kind of doing on its own, and itís just building on technical basis?
MR. BURT: Both. As we see new things develop like peer-to-peer, things that come up, spam has been huge the last year because of the volume of spam, pornographic spam, has increased quite a bit. We see those things driving the development of new technologies on there. And as parents become more savvy about managing their internet connections, the awareness, I think, is raising because of a whole range of security issues, because the majority of people with broadband connections donít, for example, block people from accessing their networks. They donít put up some kind of firewall. The majority of people with anti-virus software donít renew their subscription and donít update it. There is a lot of awareness that generally is being raised and really needs to be raised a lot more about how people can safely manage their home and internet connections.
MR. GALLAGHER: Well, you touched on an important point because that's one of the things we work closely with Congressional leaders and others just trying to keep understanding those challenges, and with the Department of Commerceís oversight over the DNS servers and those that maintain them. And we are constantly aware of the attacks on those on the DNS and that through that derivatively about other threats to personal computers.
Just from a personal prospective, the ISP that I use has software that comes with it, itís included with the subscription. One of the features of this software is that you can see how many incidents are reported against your computer and then it will show you on a map where theyíre coming from. And it generally identifies the IP addresses by carrier, not by computer, because thatís the way theyíre dealt out. But itís in the thousands per day, just on my machine at home. And it has to be similar for anybody. These things are searching out opportunities wherever there's a broadband connection.
MR. BURT: Yes, they are. And it is really frightening when you look at that. When you look at the viruses that are coming in through email, when you look at the various ways that pornography can come into a household too, as well, through peer-to-peer, we talked about the web, through spam, and through attachment, and through instant messaging, and through email. The problem is very big. The last time I went to Google, and typed in the word porn I got 115 million pages come up. So itís a big problem that needs a comprehensive technological approach.
MR. GALLAGHER: Well the President and the Secretary both speak to the innovational nature of our economy. The President was here a couple of weeks ago talking about that. What are we going to see in the world of innovation in this space? From your expertise for tech focus of people in this room, what is it that we are going to see next thatís really going to help us get at this problem?
MR. BURT: Well, actually I think I already answered that question. More development of what's going on in the enterprise with the security right now is the development of appliances, and suites, and multifunction devices that approach the spam, and the anti-virus, and the intrusion prevention. And I think as you have more of these giant attacks, where peopleís PCs are being taken over by hackers, with their desk tops being infiltrated by spy-ware that theyíre not aware of. As the awareness raises you'll see more comprehensive devices in terms of specific filtering technology.
The technology, as I said, has evolved quite a bit. The newer packages offer things like where you can set up different levels of access for different users. In our product we have 62 categories that you can choose from, where you can select, for example, block only like a white list of things like .kids and approved sites for younger children. And then for teenagers, block things like pornography and gambling and hate speech and other things like that. And then for the adults, what they want to do for themselves.
And where you have reporting software monitoring where one woman was talking about, she uses a product that whenever a teenager tries to access a site heís not supposed to, she gets an email, saying that heís going there and things of that sort.
So you'll see a lot more functionality built into controls, and easier to use. The big knock on filters early was that they were hard to use, hard to update. Because you had to update, like an antivirus subscription, you had to update the filtering software every day. Well, with the broadband thatís not an issue because itís always on and you have it updated automatically and actually much easier to set up and easier to use as well.
MR. GALLAGHER: Well, those will certainly be welcomed. That getting an email idea, it probably doesnít take many of those for the kid to get the picture that theyíre not supposed to go to certain places. Now at this point weíve kind of run around a number of different aspects of our discussion. Iím happy to open it up to the floor, if we have questions at this point or we continue forward here. So if somebody wanted to approach the mic, itís important to identify yourself, who you are, and that you do ask your question in the form of a question. Is there anybody that wants to come to the microphone here for the benefit of those us on the webcast?
MS. DRANE: My name is Karen Drane, and I work for the Department of Justice website. And I had a comment, but Iíll form it in a question, it is sort of a question.
Mr Gallagher: You can win a million dollars if you do it right.
MS. DRANE: I think itís not true to say that there isnít anyone whoís against this. I'm not speaking for anyone except myself but thereís things that Iíve seen on the web talking about this and drawbacks to it. And I think a lot of federal agency web Masters have been hesitant to put sites on because, for one thing, it causes more work because we really are creating two sites, two kids sites, kids off the kids.us and kids on.
And I think it's important to be realistic about the expectations. That it's important to know that there are some people that have reservations about it.
And I guess my question would be, if the software is getting better in filtering, will there come a time we wonít need a separate domain?
MR. GALLAGHER: What do you think, David? Why donít we send that your way first? And just for the benefit of our discussion, it was noted in the Supreme Court case that 40 percent of the sites where offensive material is located is outside the bounds of the United States, so filtering is the only way to get at those. And I would just put that as a background fact, but what do you think, David?
MR. BURT: Well, yeah, to address your point about pornography overseas that certainly is true. We see huge numbers of it. We did a study recently looking at it. There are large numbers on small specific islands in the Pacific who lease out their domain names. So itís quite easy to move that content overseas. And I remarked in the New York Times last week when I heard that decision, that if it has been upheld you might have called COPA the cyber off shoring of pornography because pornography would just be moved overseas.
I think even if the technology was perfect, even it did solve the problem, I think the idea of .kids.us is a great idea just because it limits the content to one specific area. I have a six year old daughter. This is the approach we use on our daughter, we limit her to a small number of sites that she can go to. And many of them are these sites, PBS.kids, Nickjr.com, are terrific ideas.
MR. FITZGERALD: I wanted to answer in two ways. The first way is, I went online and did a sort of search engine of some of the internet blocks, and chat rooms of people who are talking about .kids.us. The biggest complaint that I read from most people is theyíre just afraid that theyíre not going to make any money off of it. Probably 50 percent of it were people who had bought domain names. Weíre trying to figure out how to sell them and how they were going to make money off of it.
So the typical practice that goes on with buying domain names, and how youíre going to do it, thereís a lot of concern as well if you canít sell something on it, and if youíre not able to communicate with the kids, weíre not going to make any money off of it. So there may not be a really big demand. I think I actually saw Canada.kids.us was trying to sell it for a $100,000. I donít think anybody is really going to buy that.
MS. COLE: Theyíre not allowed to.
MR. BURT: And there were a number of other interesting names that were out there. The other thing that we did here it was a little tougher to set up than the regular thing and it cost a little more expense. But I think even with filtering technology thereís still a place. What weíre trying to do here is create a place for people to go where they could have material that we have, feel safe. Even with filtering technology youíre just sort of all over there. There are still ways to communicate with the kids.
I was talking to the Nuclear Energy Institute about trying to putting up a site. They have a really great kids site on their web. They were a little reluctant to do it because they actually communicate regularly with the children. Especially for science fair projects and other things, where the kids really have a lot of questions and they want to ask them. They said for them that they really didnít think that this was a viable option.
So thereís going to be areas where this may not work with everybody. But itís still a place that I think will have a future. Itís going to be a place you can go where people can feel comfortable, even if they have filters.
MR. GALLAGHER: Other thoughts? It seems like weíre developing a consensus that there is a place even with perfect filtering technology for kids.us.
Any other thoughts?
MR. GALLAGHER: Well letís just touch on one of the issues that Ray raised, itís the commercial aspect. What is expected coming from Capitol Hill? Kelly, maybe you can get us started here, what are the expectations about commercial activity, commercial focus, where are the limits for purposes of kids.us space in your mind? And then we can entertain some thoughts from others.
MS. COLE: We dealt specifically with these questions. Whether or not there was going to be chat on the site. Whether or not thereís going to be commercial opportunities. How would we lure industry into kids.us as opposed to good content?
Ultimately we decided not to take any hard-core positions on advertising to kids. You know, everybody watches TV. They are bombarded with it every day. Certainly we do not want this to turn into a commercial, sort of, driven domain where everything on the kids.us space is, buy Fruit Loops, buy -- thatís not what this was designed to be Ė- eat a Big Mac. That obviously was not what we want, but on the same vein you canít not Ė- itís almost impossible to just cut that off.
In order to attract people to kids.us in terms of posting good content, you know, frankly we may want McDonaldís to put up a site, theyíve got some funny characters. Thatís content thatís going to be attractive to children. Weíre just hoping that the idea behind the creation of the domain drives and what kind of content goes up are really driven towards providing children with educational and fun and interesting content, and not commercially driven. And I think weíve seen that to date.
And I really donít think that anybody is going to get too much out of just posting up a commercial site because there is no interactivity. The kids arenít going to be able to pull out the credit card and buy Fruit Loops online through kids.us. So Iím not really too worried about that.
MR. GALLAGHER: Looking to our experts that have looked at this, Margaret, is there anything behaviorally? I mean kids are consumers at very young ages. I think we all know that for those of us that have kids. But what are their expectations? Is it a good thing to have a little bit more commercial focus? Do you attract children to the space more? Business certainly, I think itís clear, if you talk to most businesses they would see a stronger alignment with what were trying to accomplish, if that were the case. And Gary and Lawrence, if you had something to add along those lines weíd be happy to hear as well.
DR. HONEY: I have a couple different answers to that question. Kids obviously respond to entertaining, interactive, rich, interesting, lively content. Not unlike the kinds of things that we were seeing on there, thatís sort of a given.
But I was thinking as you were talking, Kelly, we were speaking earlier about partnerships and Lawrence also mentioned that the challenges of really getting attention in a very crowded space. One the things that's true is that a lot of very high-profile, large global businesses are involved in educational technology work from a philanthropic prospective.
So, Intel, for example, runs a number of education programs that fall under the umbrella of their innovation and education initiatives. And they've trained over a million teachers worldwide, over 300,000 in this country. Theyíre running a network of some Ė- I donít know what the numbers are up to now, maybe 500 computer clubhouses which target kids in after school programs. And IBM had also engaged in philanthropic initiatives, Gellar has as well, and we could go on and on. I think there are numerous opportunities to partner with those initiatives. And itís not so much about getting commercial content onto the space, but itís about the objective of getting high quality engaging educational content into the space. And I think targeting those entities that are already engaged in good philanthropic work in this area, but that are capable of reaching large numbers of people, is a really important strategy.
MR. GALLAGHER: I still want to hear from our other panelists on this side of the table, but I think that just listening to this conversation, brand attracts kids. The kids are very responsive to the advertising thatís around them every day. And if that's what they see, that's great. But then weíre leveraging some of the other aspects of what those brands mean as opposed to the latest model of pentium chip or laptop. Youíre actually talking about some other aspects of what Intel stands for, for example.
MR. LACY: I just want to, sort of, second what Margaret said. I think that the quality of the content is important. And the PTA passed a resolution a couple of years ago that dealt with the issue of commercialism and technology. And we clearly don't want to victimize children in other ways. Weíre talking about the whole issue of pedophilia, all of this. Weíre sort of changing this victimization piece. And I mentioned there are other things we're very concerned about, the issues of child health, nutrition and obesity. And I would be very concerned about an advertiser who is continually pushing things that somehow go against the kinds of things that Ė- so weíre victimizing in another kind of way.
MR. GALLAGHER: So Garyís drawn some of the lines where some the limits might be. Thereís some sense of comfort that maybe some of this is acceptable. We could certainly go too far and we donít want that happening in this space. Other thoughts before we go back to the floor?
MR. PETERS: I think it's very difficult, you know, the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval strikes me as something painful here, but I guess, you know, because we donít want to comment on the brand and stuff, just the content, just as far as that particular internet site is concerned. So some judgment calls there.
The other thing I would just mention is that I think itís going to be exciting for kids in a different way. Margaret and I were talking about perhaps having some space on the .kids where kids create their own content at some point, instead of off the great websites. But they get the feeling that somehow the internet is the property of very smart people, adults, large companies, large budget organizations. Whereas, in fact, there is the possibility, increasingly so, of kids creating very engaging content. And to the extent that there could be some resources, I donít know what kind of resources right now, but some resources given to helping kids design very engaging websites for other kids. It might be something we could explore.
MR. GALLAGHER: That's probably very true because kids spend a lot of time with each other and theyíre very interested in that probably more than they are with a lot of other adult interaction. Ron?
MR. LANEY: I just want to say that everybody says a child sexual predator will use anything to try to get at them. Youíve got to be really careful when you put content on there that can be stored in another way or fashion and they will do that. It comes to mind, we got a call from the department the other day from a parent that had their own family website up, and put some pictures on it. It was a simple thing, it was a child sitting on a potty even though you could not see any skin, the next thing we knew, that thing was on about 1,000 websites. I mean itís just those kind of things we're always cautious about.
And from an investigative point of view, what are we going to do with that? Thereís nothing much we can do with that except educating parents. Obviously one of the most key things we could possibly do, because as everybody has pointed out this morning, and itís important, that the kids are a lot smarter than we are on the internet and they know how to use these things. Once they have a computer in the family and everybodyís looking at it, those kids can move that target so fast it makes your head spin.
It goes back to one of our investigatorís dialog with people doing these things. You just got to be careful with those kinds of things. I think that educating parents has got to be one of the most critical things we do. And the point being is to start learning from your parents.
MR. GALLAGHER: Thanks for that. Another question from the floor? In the back, would you come forward and identity yourself?
MS. OíNEILL: Hi, Iím Theresa OíNeill, Director of Public Relations for Nickelodeon. And just on that same issue of educating the parents, I think one of the biggest things that we battle all the time is the misunderstanding that itís our site, that the kids are getting spam with pornography because they visited our site.
You know, these ready connections to internet, as far as DSL or where parents just have automatic dial up and theyíre there. I donít know if this is true, but Iíve heard that users of certain -- just because a user has gone to a kids website, they can identify that as being a minor, and possibly target them because theyíre a minor with spam. And you know itís hard because the parents start to believe that, my kid went to your site and Iím getting spam with pornography now. And my child is being spammed with emails that they shouldnít be receiving.
And it really is -- from what we understand itís a lack of control on the internet service providerís side. When are we going to educate parents about better internet service provider controls? Iím concerned about it, because theyíre still going to go to the kids.us domain, and theyíre still going to get spam, and theyíre still going to be targeted as users. Are we going to target that? Are we going to deal with that?
MR. GALLAGHER: Thank you for that. David, maybe we can start with you, just to give the technical background about how this type of thing happens and get reactions from the rest of the panel.
MR. BURT: Well, when people typically get spammed, the biggest reason is because they put email addresses on the web somewhere and someone has gone and harvested it. Another way that people get spammed is because they have a name that the spammers with their programs can guess.
For example, if you have something like, J Jones with AOL.com, theyíre probably going to figure out Ė- try and send you some email for that. So there are a number of ways that they can do that.
In terms of people dragging websites, and go on the internet, and sending you spam based on that, there are definitely spyware programs that do that, that people inadvertently download to their PCs when they connect, download to peer-to-peer programs that contains spyware. So there definitely are programs out there that will do that.
In terms of visiting something like Junior getting spam, I donít see how they would Ė- that would seem a misunderstanding to me on the parentsí part, because I donít see how that would trigger spam. People do need to be aware of that, that there are programs that track where theyíre going on the internet and will send them spam or advertising based on that.
MR. LANEY: In Congress theyíre sort of debating the issue right now. We have a number of pieces of legislation right now that deal with spyware. And a lot of memberís perspective is thereís good spyware and bad spyware. If you want to update your virus protection system, you know thatís considered spyware, but usually youíre notified first. When you have a stream of pop-ups coming, you want to update your systems and you say yes. But Congress is having a very difficult time on how to regulate spyware and what to do with spyware. I think the Senate held another hearing and thereís a number of pieces of legislation out there that has to do with that part.
MR. GALLAGHER: Are there reactions?
MR. LACY: Just a quick one. I think of the young woman who asked what are we doing. Probably not enough. To be very frank with you, several years ago the PTA co-authored a book with a couple of contributors at the National Academy. Weíve also done some work with Children's Partnership in terms of trying to get the word out. But the point is, we really are not doing enough and that's one of the reasons weíre here today, to try and figure out ways in which we can collaborate more.
MR. GALLAGHER: Thank you. We probably have time for one more question. If thereís one from the floor weíd like to take it, and if not Ė- we have a question here.
MR. HOURCADE: So the ability for children to communicate or engage in creative activities was mentioned, but then again there is the issue of people that are not engaged in inappropriate things. What kind of -- I guess the questions is for Dave, also for Ron -- what are the sources of technologies would you use for authentication, and also for filtering types of email what are the dangers? Juan Hourcade from the Census Bureau.
MR. GALLAGHER: David?
MR. BURT: Yeah. I think I described some of the filtering software programs that are out there. Thereís a website called, GETNETWISE.ORG, that lists about 100 different programs that do various programs, some that monitor, some that filter, some that filter email, and some that are ISP based, some that sit on your PC, all different kind of things like that. So there are quite a bit of tools out there.
MR. HOURCADE: In terms of -- you mentioned authentication, if you post content to a website for -- when would those on the websites be able to authenticate who is putting information, and what information is being Ė-
MR. BURT: Iím not really sure how to answer those questions. Sorry.
MR. LANEY: Under .kids all your content has to be approved. You know like, so they look at it and if people make complaints they take it down. We had a guy call us after a hearing and said he was able to hyper-link on something. So when I called him back and I said, well, you know, thatís a violation, and Iíll talk to NeuStar to investigate. After I went through with him a couple of times, he just copied and pasted the link that was on there and actually clicked on the hyper-link. Well thatís acceptable. We canít prevent that.
We have a pretty rigorous process as far as this is concerned, not anything else, but a pretty rigorous process to just go through with regards to your content.
Iím from the investigative side, we do that as well. We have an Exploited Child National Center for Children and itís manned 24/7. And we get cyber tips on the cyber tip line from everywhere as well as -- just from other means as well. And they actually have analysts that go in and look at those and drag those back before theyíll even refer them for investigation. Even our investigators will do a forensics and those kinds of things, to authenticate that this is somebody out there trying to do something to a child. And then obviously that will follow with an investigation.
MR. GALLAGHER: Thanks for that. Any other questions from the floor? Well, great. At this point then weíll move to our break a little bit early and weíll take 20 minutes, if thatís okay. Weíll have everybody back here and letís have a round of applause and thank our panelists for an excellent job.
(Whereupon, a short break was taken.)