A virtual ID card designed to keep children safe while they’re surfing the net has been launched in the UK, US, Canada and Australia.
The Net-ID-me is a secure electronic identity card that displays the user’s first name, age, gender, and general location. It can be swapped by children online when using chatrooms, instant messaging and social networks.
The scheme, which claims to be the first internet age and identity verification system that validates the identities of individuals of all ages, aims to make it harder for adults to pose as children when online.
Parents and children can apply for the card online, which costs £10 a year. Members are verified in a process that is similar to a passport application.
Users are encouraged to check the identity of people they communicate with by being awarded points for each ID they check or issue. The points can be exchanged for prizes such as music downloads.
The card is the brainchild of UK businessman Alex Hewitt. Hewitt had the idea after finding that his daughter could only verify the age and identity of a third of her 150 online friends.
Mr Hewitt said he hoped the scheme would "substantially reduce" the risk of young children being targeted by adults.
According to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop), one in 12 children met up with someone encountered first online.
Jim Gamble, Ceop chief executive, said: "Any measure that can help identify the real age of someone online is one more step to deterring people from assuming different online identities to exploit, groom and abuse children over the internet."
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