FTC studying minors in online games - Report

Federal lawyers scrutinizing access to adult content in MMO games for Congressional report due in December.

The last piece of gaming legislation seeking to limit minors' access to games was vetoed by the governor of Utah, but lawmakers haven't taken their eyes off of the issue of children and gaming entirely. According to a report on Virtual Worlds News, the Federal Trade Commission is set to deliver a report to Congress on the issue this December.

The FTC wants to find out if any kids are crashing this hot-tub party.

The study is intended to inform lawmakers on what types of content are accessible to minors in online worlds such as Habbo Hotel and Second Life, and what the operators of those worlds are doing to limit that access. The article suggests that the report will also include recommendations to Congress on how to address the issue.

The author of the article, Virtual Worlds News editor Joey Seiler, says he told the attorneys that the danger of virtual worlds relative to other online activities was "minimal," noting that age-verification steps can often be circumvented. And though that holds true for online games, it also is the case for hardcore pornography sites, and any other online destination inappropriate for children.

"That's not to say there aren't legitimate concerns and that more companies should follow [Second Life developer Linden Labs'] example and take proactive measures, but I think I'm right that the danger of virtual worlds is minimal compared to other online properties," Seiler said.

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