It's probably the British use software made to comply with the US "coppa" (children's online privacy protection act) requirments.
COPPA requires parents to sign off if the kid isn't (smart enough to lie or) 13 years of age.
Much off the shelf forum software supports that law, and sometimes it's nontrivial to turn it off.
Or the British Army might be hosting the forum in the US, and hence territorially they might have to follow US laws.
So do WebmasterWorld now ask new forum members for date of birth details?
This might have something to do with it. COPPA relates to online privacy for children under 13 years of age.
COPPA on Wikipedia
|Much off the shelf forum software supports that law, and sometimes it's nontrivial to turn it off |
Just looked, by default in phpBB it's turned off.
Don't quote me on this but I believe you only need to enable it if you have a site that is targeted at kids. That law was passed many years ago to prevent sites from gathering kids private information from ill informed politicians. Knee jerk legislation because kids were getting spammed after signing up to kids sites.
Yes, it turns out to be COPPA
I tried just now to register as a 12 year old and got this message
"In order to comply with US law, ProBoards is a service only for users aged 13 and above. You indicated that you are 12 years old. You are not eligible to use our service at this time. You are welcome to come back when you are 13 years old."
Weird really that this is being used as a supposed way of stopping children accessing these boards. As has been pointed out any youngster worth their salt would sign up as an older person.
Interestingly it the software will accept me a a mature 109 year old.
No doubt the British Defence budget pays for all this, and the British Government sincerely believes it is doing its bit to keep the Internet clean for children!
Couple of things that should be made clear -
The free forum hosting site Proboards is not (so far as I am aware) funded from the British defence budget. In fact I believe it is based in the US and also hosts 3 million other forums, some of which might not be UK service associations.
The the website you viewed is built and maintained by volunteers - it is one of many associations that supports ex-service people and helps them keep in touch.
So it seems a bit unfair to lay all that on them.
Off the shelf software doesn't require you to use COPPA. As far as I know most, if not all the software out there was created in the UK first.
It depends on where the server is located.
It's not about keeping the Internet clean for children, that's COPA (which has been nullified). :P
COPPA is about privacy regarding personal data that might be collected. This is a serious issue. The FTC has collected up to $75,000 from different companies that collected personal information from children (without parental consent) for the purpose of marketing to them.
|This is a serious issue. The FTC has collected up to $75,000 from different companies that collected personal information from children (without parental consent) for the purpose of marketing to them. |
So is it naivety, stupidity, or non functioning bureaucratic minds that believe the whole problem can be solved by asking the prospective user to put their date of birth in, on the assumption that they will put their correct dob in.?
>>>So is it naivety, stupidity, or non functioning bureaucratic minds
I think none of the above. It's easy to wag the finger at senators who think the Internet is a series of tubes even while simultananeously scratching our heads over MySpace, Blackberries, Android and Twitter. Technology can be so confusing that renting a vacation house and figuring out the remote controls can take a few minutes for some while for others it means being resigned to sitting in front of the fireplace.
I think the reality is that no matter what country, those making the laws are culturally behind the curve over the technologies they are creating because technology is moving ahead at a faster pace than many individuals can keep up with. I think the foundations of how we do things online, as well as how we interface with hardware and software, for the next hundred years are being laid right now.