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Yahoo Closes Chat Rooms to Anyone Under 18 680

Talaria writes "Yahoo has announced that they are closing all of their chat rooms to anyone under eighteen, following an agreement with New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer, who began investigating the Yahoo! chat situation earlier this year, said "We need to be vigilant to protect our children.""
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Yahoo Closes Chat Rooms to Anyone Under 18

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  • by yamamushi ( 903955 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <ihsumamay>> on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @07:36PM (#13777728) Homepage
    I seriously doubt they are going to effectively stop anyone under 18 from using their chatrooms. It's just a minor change to your DOB and wha-la, your in.
  • by cyborg_zx ( 893396 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @07:37PM (#13777729)
    Oh... any one of a million other chat systems. Who's gonna be checking up on this shit anyway?
  • I wonder (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nEoN nOoDlE ( 27594 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @07:42PM (#13777788) Homepage
    It seems like every censorship law these days is being made "for the children." I wonder where this idea comes from, since we've started lapping it up like ice cream. Is there any historical precedence in the US or other countries where the government is so obsessed with "the children" being exposed to anything that might be considered harmful or innapropriate? I'm just wondering. I was a child of the late 80s and early 90s and wasn't so politically involved then, but don't really remember it being such a craze to shelter all the kids.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @07:45PM (#13777815)
    At least now you'll know that "lolipop_13" is really a 45 year old guy.
  • Re:So basically.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pymike ( 918985 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @07:46PM (#13777830)
    "I swear the EULA said she was 18 officer."
  • How? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <jmorris@NOSPAM.beau.org> on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @07:48PM (#13777841)
    And just how to they intend to enforce this decree? Open up local offices around the nation where they will check a photo ID before issuing a userID and password? Nah, this is just a PR stunt.
  • the end (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Roadkills-R-Us ( 122219 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @07:57PM (#13777919) Homepage
    The NY AG's office has announced that they will now prosecute anyone found in a bedroom, because children are molested in bedrooms. The NYC DA, not wishing to be outdone, has promised to prosecute people found indoors without a permit, which his office won't be prepared to provide for at least another year. NY Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton later announced that if elected president, she will just generally outlaw people.
  • Re:There goes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by irc.goatse.cx troll ( 593289 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @08:14PM (#13778025) Journal
    But atleast now when you're watching underaged girls strip on webcam you have plausable deniability. Yahoo said you had to be 18 to join the chats, how were you supposed to know?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @08:27PM (#13778102)
    Seriously, can't someone (who KNOWS another is underage) claim this as a defense?

    "Your honour, according to the agreement between Yahoo! and government officials, it's the fourteen-year-old that broke the law, not my forty-year-old client. They are the ones responsible."

  • by acvh ( 120205 ) <geek@m s c i g a r s.com> on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @08:37PM (#13778166) Homepage
    Recently the head of the local police force's "cybercrime" task force spoke to parents at my son's high school. He shared with us some transcripts of older guys hitting on young girls, and it was very illuminating. The first thing to be aware of is that these "perverts" out there are very good at seduction - not necessarily sexual - and are very convincing at sounding like teenage boys. In addition, he went through a demonstration of how, armed with nothing but the girl's first name and a hobby, he was able to get her full name (google name and cheerleading squad), her address, her father's profession, a picture of her house, and a picture of her. So, a girl chatting with a guy, who can say he's in her hometown, knows her father's dentist office and goes to the same football games, decides to meet this boy down the street at the strip mall. Scary stuff.

    Chatting is a way of life for kids these days. That may not be good, personally we restrict our son's activities in this regard, but many parents just see it as an alternative to hanging out at the mall. Surely a kid is safer at home, right?

    Blaming parents, especially when you aren't one, for not being aware of all this, is an easy out, but not a productive one. The providers of chat rooms DO share a responsibility for safety. Yes, age restrictions can be bypassed, but it will help. Not all kids are liars. And, for good or ill, Spitzer is very good at increasing awareness of wrongdoing, in many areas. That increased awareness will also help.

    It's sad to see those who profess to be freedom loving libertarians here get upset over chat room restrictions, and in the same paragraph advocate sterilization or "parent ability tests".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @08:37PM (#13778172)
    I'm from Richmond, I met this girl.

    She didn't meet him on Myspace, that's just the media looking for a story. They both simply happened to have myspace and used it to communicate.

    And even if they did...I've met quite a few people off of myspace, and I haven't been raped and/or murdered yet.

    I'm also 6'2 210 pound black guy though, go figure.
  • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @08:44PM (#13778215) Journal
    Oh, I don't know, how about face to face with people their own age where they can learn such things as manners, etiquette, constructive dialog, the fact that "teh" is not a word.

    So if your kid hangs out with other kids, he will start saying "Please" and "Thank You", use the small fork for his salad and put the napkin on his lamp, plus have conversations about current events AND speak proper English with improved grammar?

    I agree that face to face interaction teachs them that actions have consequences, like getting popped in the mouth for talking trash, but they can also try out some stuff they saw on Jackass or Crank Yankers.

    The internet doesn't screw up kids, apothetic parents do.
  • by twitter ( 104583 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @08:56PM (#13778290) Homepage Journal
    Because, you know, there are no other chat rooms anywhere else on the Internet.

    Sure, You Always Have Other Options (YAHOO). Unless you live in the United States or it's Dominion, which is everywhere with electricity.

    What, you think you're favorite chat site has more push than Yahoo? This multiple hundred thousand dollar extortion is just the tip of the iceburg from the American Taliban. Yahoo is going to love being one of the three or four chat sites with Federal Aproval while the rest are shut down as if they were places pervs lurk. Don't forget to kill forums and email, mail, phone calls, cans with strings, hand signals, whispering in public and all that dangerous communications stuff used to seduce young girls and boys every day. And beer, can't have beer.

    Next up: Protecting women from dangerous outdoor activities by mandatory dress code. [wikipedia.org] Then the world will be safe from seduction at last.

    I've got a 4 year old daughter and I'm more afraid of the New York Attorney General (NYAG) than I am of pervs on her computer. My girl will have sense enough to ignore what she will obviously think of a "gross" comments. She and her friends will resent the intrusion on their conversation, just like they would in Meat Space, aka the real world. Of course, if Yahoo and the extortionists win, there will be no place for her to chat but Yahoo's obviously spammed out hell holes.

    How about normal law enforcement instead? You know, punish the one in a million people who have done something harmful instead of the rest of us?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @09:52PM (#13778568)
    US officials also annouced plans to all public schools to anyone under 18. They made this decision after realizing that child predators often seek places of high concentrations of children, and pose as authority figures. Officials indicated next on the list were daycares and maternity wards. When asked about this decision, officals replied "We need to be vigilant to protect our children and eliminate these hotspots of pedophile activity."

    Anyone thinks that any authority figure in the US gives a rats ass about children, needs to do a google search on "depleted uranium babies". Also, take a look at all those "enemy combatants" or "collateral damage" with their faces melted off from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If the top dogs of the thug system don't care about children (they sure don't care about civilians in any shape or form), then the military doesn't, and it trickles all the way down. Ever heard of a Youth Detention Center? They are all over the US.

    My own story:

    At the age of 5, I was interred in a US "school" system... of course, that was a euphamism... for my "(re) education"... I'm not sure what my crime was, I believe they ran a slander game on me and called me "ignorant" and needed to be "educated". I spent 12 years in that hell hole and learned little of value, despite that I barked when they told me to bark, jumped when they told me to jump, and graduated with the highest scholastic IQ test of my class.

    I thought I was finally free. All I ever really wanted to be was left alone. Isn't that what everybody wants, to be left alone, to purse happiness as they saw fit.

    At the age of 35, happily going about my life, living out in my beautiful country where it was peaceful and quit, totally oblvious of the police state around me, I was accused by some kid talking to her mom in the bathtub that I did something to her. Next thing I know I was on trial for my life. It didn't matter that her story made no sense, it didn't matter that there was no evidence whatsoever to support her BS, it didn't matter that the parents kept porn in the house and both parents testified they never saw any child molestation, or that the girls hymen was still intact and she got a clean bill of health from the doctor, despite her accusation I stuck my finger in her you know what.

    It didn't matter? Why? Because we have to protect the children. I suddenly was the witch in a witchhunt. I was the target of another kind of slander game

    I was naive. I had no clue what was going on. I went to prison for two years, and it was a psycho hell.

    Eventually, I won my appeal, but I had to wait two years (beuracracy) and I won only because I fought back like hell, and never surrendered, even though that place was tearing apart my mind.

    you have fallen into another dimension, a well
    the other prisoners tell you
    you're one of us now
    you know i don't belong here, you say
    oh if you're here it must me you belong, they say
    and even if you tell the truth noone will listen, they say
    you know why, because you're a criminal

    the more you try to prove them wrong
    the crazier you appear
    you're invisible now
    can you feel it?

    these people who set themselves up to judge
    do so to cover their own most heinous crimes
    and to project power
    law has nothing to do with morality
    it has to do with projecting power
    and internalizing their control over you

    i have seen it

    I survived
    my body did anyway
    the rest of me died
    i died in that place

    locked in room 301
    i died spiritually
    i died emotionally
    i died psychologically

    that place was a hell on earth
    it is hell as any soviet gulag is hell
    as any cambodian prison was hell
    as hell as any nazi concentration camp was hell

    you try and tell me there is any difference for an american prison and those
    i will spit in your face

    you tell me the steel is any warmer
    you tell me the concrete is any softer
    you tell me the barbwire is any mor
  • by syzler ( 748241 ) <david@sFREEBSDyzdek.net minus bsd> on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @10:14PM (#13778677)
    You'll have to pry my child from my cold dead hand and you'll have to pry your throat from the other hand.

    I am only partly joking, in reality both hands would be on your throat and my child would be in my wife's arms.
  • Re:So what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sax Maniac ( 88550 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @10:39PM (#13778773) Homepage Journal
    This is true. I used to work at a movie theater back in college. Some dirty* movie came out, it was Sliver or something, and there was this whole big problem about was nasty it was. Anyway, it was R as expected, and for some reason, this movie brought out the high-schoolers in droves.

    Rather than ask them for ID, I would ask the, uh, obvious 13-14 year olds "are you 18 or older?" The answer was invariably yes. Then I'd ask them people their birth year. A surprising number of them got it wrong. I told them: if you can't be bothered to do the math, I'm not going to let you in.

    Damn kids. When I lied to get into bars, I made damn well sure I knew the birthday (and everything else) on the license. Thank you James Justus Woell from Ann Arbor, Michigan! Even though you were 30 and I was 17, it was good enough!

    *not dirty.

  • Re:There goes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cowscows ( 103644 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @10:59PM (#13778861) Journal
    Look, just because someone will admit that raising a kid isn't the easiest thing in the world, and that they don't mind a little help doesn't make them a huge whiner hell bent on making themselves look like some special victim of circumstance.

    Your answer, don't let them have internet access, is not much of a solution either. I think that parent can make a pretty good argument that technology/computers/internet are all going to be substantial factors in their children's lives, and exposing them to the technology has a lot of potential benefits. Of course there are also potential downsides, but here's a parent that's trying to navigate through these, and is grateful for any help they can get.

    And I don't know where the rest of your argument came from. The parent poster said nothing about cellphone bills or drunk driving, you're just ranting to try and make your points seem more valid I guess. You're right that people have been raising children for eons. So what? Through those eons, I have no doubt that there were plenty of dumb or naive kids that made lots of stupid choices and had to face unpleasant consequences. I don't think the past offers us any easy solutions that we're just conveniently ignoring. People lived for eons without electricity too, I don't see what make the current generation so special that they deserve to have electric lights and refridgeration.

    Locking children into boxes and not giving them any privileges or responsibilities is not a good way to prepare them for the real world. So your solution doesn't work. Letting a kid run free throughout the world usually isn't very successful either. You've obviously observed that. Maybe the correct solution is somewhere in the middle, where a parent tries to balance freedom and limits to allow their children to grow in a safer manner. That seems like a pretty tough task, and I don't think it's a bad thing for parents to appreciate support and help from the community.
  • by PunkOfLinux ( 870955 ) <mewshi@mewshi.com> on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @11:01PM (#13778874) Homepage
    Anyone else notice how this is like a day after they announced their thing with MSN?
  • by Artifakt ( 700173 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @11:09PM (#13778910)
    Lesser involvement should still be very effective. You don't have to catch a child every time they do someting wrong, you just have to make punishment and reward appropriate to what you do observe, and observe often enough to catch the more severe abuses the child may do. I guarentee if the parent sets a policy of no trolling, no abusive language, etc, and spot checks for an hour after giving the kid a couple of weeks to develop any bad habits they may choose, any child that isn't sticking to the policy will either slip big time while they are watching, or the remarks other people make talking to that child will make it quite clear what's been going on. Discipline doesn't have to mean never using the net again either - The worst penalty my daughter was even warned about in advance in using chat involved having the machine locked away for a week, and she never even came close to earning one of those. I spent more time helping her install extra software and such than it took to spell out the actual restrictions, but what I spent on that was apparently enough.
            Plus, it's not just about discipline. How many parents bother to sit down with the kid and discuss how some people might be trying to pry private information out over chat, or watch for a half hour when they first start and point out examples of other chatters who might be 43 year old guys just pretending to be 15 year old girls? Teach the kids how to fight back against some of the perils out there first - it lets them know you care, AND it warns them anonimity isn't perfect, and there are some ways to trace them if they abuse the system.
            Course, my only child is a girl. Boys are probably a whole nother problem.
  • by JimBobJoe ( 2758 ) <swiftheart@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @11:25PM (#13778989)
    New York officials also annouced plans to close public parks to anyone under 18.

    Clearly you didn't catch fark a few days ago, as something similar occurred.

    Woman Ticketed For Sitting On Park Bench With No Kids [wfmynews2.com]

    "New York, NY -- It's an only in New York story. A woman was given a ticket for sitting on a park bench because she doesn't have children.

    The Rivington Playground on Manhattan's East Side has a small sign at the entrance that says adults are prohibited unless they are accompanied by a child....The city parks department said the rule is designed to keep pedophiles out of city parks, but a parks spokesman told the Daily News that the department hoped police would use some common sense when enforcing the rule"

  • by AstroDrabb ( 534369 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @12:02AM (#13779155)
    This seems like a political solution...
    A "political solution" is really just smoke an mirrors for a politician so that they can get re-elected to office or elected to a new office. It lets our politicians have something to point at and say "see, I did this great thing while I was in this office, that is why you need to elect me to this new office".

    This Spitzer idiot will actually tell people that he "kept their children safe" and believe it or not, there will be tons of other idiots that will think it is true : (

    There are a lot of funny things like this in the USA. At 17, I was able to sign up for the US Marine Corps. At 18, I was allowed to enter the US Marine Coprs. I went in in 1991, during that whole Gulf War thingy. The funny thing to me (now at the age of 32) is that I was allowed by the US federal govt. to sign my life over to them to possible fight and die for my country at _only_ 18, yet I was not old enough to buy and drink a beer! I guess uncle Sam really knows what is best for us.

  • by Damer Face ( 910606 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @01:37AM (#13779568)
    > That's a value assumption on your behalf.

    One's appraisal of history is a series of value judgments of a series of value judgements. To believe otherwise is most definitely stupid.

    > Millions of years of biological evolution would say otherwise.
    > Just because you are morally outraged at the fact that species such as
    > humanity have used violence for millions of years to curb socially inadequate > behaviour doesn't mean that violence doesn't serve a purpose.

    Well we're trying to put some of that behind us now, you know, the throwing of shit and hanging from trees by our tails. In all seriousness, apes are largely better behaved than we are. They argue, they beat their chests, they don't usually start laying into each other. And they don't kill each other. They do have orgies though. Maybe that's the secret.

    In most species of animal, if any violence between competing males does occur, it is a recognised loss of status on someone's part that prevents further violence.

    > People seem to think that violence is completely negative, however it has
    > served a purpose throughout history.

    The violence of self-defence is arguably justified. I believe it is, others don't.

    Most violence committed throughout history has been in the name of king and country, for the empire, the fatherland, the glorious republic, so some power-hungry visionary fool can have more lives to play with. I don't readily see the justification in that.

    > To stick your fingers in your ears and scream at the immorality of violence,
    > because your modern values demand peace, would be to deny the bloodbath of
    > human history.

    Some of us are promoting the ideas of progress, evolution, civilisation: let's push things forward. Enough with your atavistic recourse to murder.

    > Some examples of violence being used to "solve problems" include gaining the
    > resources of others and most importantly to defend against loss of status

    I think there are laws against this sort of attitude and with good reason. And "most importantly [...] loss of status" ... ? The most breathtakingly ridiculous thing I've heard all week. Be advised that if you publicly prove me wrong, you'll have justified me smashing your face in with a brick.

    > and ones resources.

    That too is arguably justified, although less so than self-defence. I'm also going to advocate the slaughter of animals to serve my need for all sorts of delicious meat products, but I don't think I'd bother to try to justify it.

    > These are important things in a social species such as humans.

    Important to those who, like dogs, need to know their place in the order. And I'm guessing most us on slashdot would be somewhere near the bottom.

    > Am I saying that violence is the only way? No. But you'd be stupid to think
    > that it never solved anything when history says otherwise.

    See top.
  • Re:There goes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rasqual ( 725451 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @02:54AM (#13779827)
    The Internet renders null and void many social forces that once shaped the development of young people. A young person wishing to view pornography once had to risk being seen at the newsstand by his Aunt Esther. No more. No constraints. No bounds. No risk of shame, no guiding deterents.

    That's just an example of a huge phenomenon merely betokened in part by on-line access to materials parents might not appreciate. The burden on parents has increased as communical cohesiveness has waned and a greater proportion of homes have busier parents -- both during the day and in the evenings. Other agents frequently compete with, rather than reinforce, parental influence. This is even championed in many quarters, enervating a classical Lockean framework not of parental rights to raise their children, but parental responsibilities to do so and society's obligation to reinforce and protect the excercise of that obligation.

    Blah, blah, blah. But it taxes my patience to see anyone impatient with parents, before admitting that the world is a very different place for raising children -- a lonelier place for parents, for sure.

    My God, would someone please shoot the morons who constantly bray about the need to "stop protecting kids and give them more information and help them make good decisions?" What damnable idiots see these as mutually exclusive options, rather than complementary ones?
  • by balloonhead ( 589759 ) <doncuan@NOSPAM.yahoo.com> on Thursday October 13, 2005 @03:18AM (#13779896)
    Firstly - I am assuming you are american. Apologies if you are not.

    Before you go off about the nazis - what about the bloody US? How are they so different?

    From http://www.hnn.us/articles/1551.html [www.hnn.us]

    Following are the remarks Mr. Platt made to the California senate judiciary committee, June 24, 2003, regarding senate resolution no. 20 - relative to eugenics.

    Since the spring 2002, state governments in Virginia, Oregon, and South Carolina, have published statements of apology to tens of thousands of patients, mostly poor women, who were sterilized against their will in state hospitals between the 1900s and 1960s. In March 2003, Governor Davis and Attorney General Lockyer added their regrets for the injustices committed in the name of "race betterment." Now, the California Senate is considering a resolution, authored by Senator Dede Alpert (D-San Diego), which "expresses profound regret over the state's past role in the eugenics movement" and "urges every citizen of the state to become familiar with the history of the eugenics movement, in the hope that a more educated and tolerant populace will reject any similar abhorrent pseudoscientific movement should it arise in the future."

    In 1924, the Immigration Act of 1924 was passed, with eugenicists for the first time playing a central role in the Congressional debate as expert advisers on the threat of "inferior stock" from Eastern and Southern Europe. [2] This reduced the number of immigrants from abroad to fifteen percent from previous years, to control the number of "unfit" individuals entering the country. The new Act strengthened existing laws prohibiting race mixing in an attempt to maintain the gene pool. Eugenic considerations also lay behind the adoption of incest laws in much of the USA and were used to justify many anti-miscegenation laws.

    Or from wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics [wikipedia.org]:

    Some states sterilized "imbeciles" for much of the 20th century. The US Supreme Court ruled in the 1927 Buck v. Bell case that the state of Virginia could sterilize those they thought unfit. The most significant era of eugenic sterilization was between 1907 and 1963 when over 64,000 individuals were forcibly sterilized under eugenic legislation in the United States. A favorable report on the results of the sterilizations in California, by far the most sterilizing state, was published in book form by the biologist Paul Popenoe and was widely cited by the Nazi government as evidence that wide-reaching sterilization programs were feasible and humane. When Nazi administrators went on trial for war crimes in Nuremberg after World War II they justified the mass-sterilizations (over 450,000 in less than a decade) by citing the United States as their inspiration.(emphasis mine)
  • The smurfs are dead! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by waif69 ( 322360 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @09:17AM (#13780942) Journal
    Didn't you see the news, the UN bombed the smurfs village and killed them. Way to go UN, you finally found your role in world politics! http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/africa/10/11/uni cef.smurfs.ap/ [cnn.com]

Don't get suckered in by the comments -- they can be terribly misleading. Debug only code. -- Dave Storer