One of the challenging aspects of child safety online is the multitude of tools available and getting people to use them. There are many worthwhile projects that have come and gone, or just never really made it.
One that comes to mind was RSAC (Recreational Software Advisory Council) that morphed into ICRA (Internet Content Rating Association) which itself morphed into FOSI (Family Online Safety Institute). The latter continues but not as the original projects had intended. At some stage ICRA’s goal of having much content online labelled for nudity, sex, violence and language died a slow death with a notice on their website now saying “the ICRA labeling engine has been discontinued.”
The latest to die a slow death is kids.us. A recent notice on the kids.us website says “the kids.us domain name registry was created in 2003 as a result of the Dot Kids Implementation and Efficiency Act of 2002.” Much like kids.us!
The notice on the kids.us website says “today there are hundreds, if not thousands, of sites containing high quality content aimed at children under the age of 13. Additionally, parents have a multitude of tools at their disposal including, software applications, web browsers, and parental control features from their Internet Service Providers, hosting providers and third party applications, to help keep their children safe on-line.”
True enough. But in reality it seems big business has won in the battle for kids and parents minds. The BBC, Disney and other large corporations battle for kid’s eyeballs and interactivity and aim to give their parents the comfort that their kids are safe when using their websites. Plus the use of other parental tools hasn’t helped either.
There are estimates that the number of registrations are in the “low three figures” or even below 100.
So “as a result of the changed landscape of the Internet and the many other tools that parents now have available to them to protect their children’s online experience, effective July 27, 2012, the Department of Commerce suspended the kids.us If you are a registrant or holder of a kids.us name, please contact your registrar for further information about the suspension of this domain.”
Strict registration rules, high domain name registration fees and poor marketing did not help either.
It seems for all their good intentions, and some would say misguided views on how to help, governments, despite its best intentions, have failed in this project.