Birthdate - Problems Creating / Registering a New Forum Account
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Why is a Birthdate Required?
The birthdate is required to ensure BellaOnline compiles with federal COPPA regulations, which exist to protect minors on the internet. We are asked sometimes why we require a birthdate and do not just have a statement on the forum sign-up page which says "you must be 13 to use this page" - or perhaps a checkbox saying "I am 13 or older."
The first and easiest answer to this question is that we bought the UBB software to run our forums - we did not program it. Asking for a birthdate is the way the UBB software works on thousands of installations across the US. Itís how they coded it. You could similarly ask why most wine sites ask for a specific birthdate and not just a checkbox. Itís the way the vast majority of websites we have visited have chosen to code to handle this legal issue. Maybe it has to do with how most lawyers want to handle the requirements.
The second and more complex answer to the question speaks to what the law is trying to do - to ensure that underage people do not easily get into a page they should not be in. So for example when someone goes to buy alcohol, they could just be asked "are you 21?" and the person could say yes or no. If the person says yes they could be given alcohol. But instead what happens is they are asked for their driverís license and the determination is made from that. Because of the serous legal implications involved, the asker wants something more than a simple "yes".
For example, you could say, why not just have a statement on the forum page saying "only people 13 and older can fill in this form" and have no checkbox or anything else at all. If you have no checkbox, then most interested underage people will lie (i.e. fill in the form even though they are not yet 13). If you add a checkbox but not a date field, then some people will lie. If you make it an actual date field that they have to put values into, only a few people will lie. Studies have shown that far more people lie when itís just a checkbox vs when you have to put in actual data. So the forum developers are trying to at least weed out the half hearted liars. Sure someone could always lie and put in a false date. But again you weed out a chunk of lying people by making them take that step, which means you further minimize the number of people being put at risk of what the COPPA regulations are trying to protect them against.
You *could* make it even more stringent - ask for a federal tax ID or something else that adults would have - but then that gets into an additional layer of difficulty. Do you only let in people who work? Are you now discriminating against stay at home moms?
So that is why most sites request a full birthdate. That is the best way to comply as strictly with the law as possible while still allowing all adults the potential of being able to enter the area.
Thereís never any way to fully prevent 13 year olds from getting into your system. However youíre required to make it as challenging as you can to show you are doing due diligence.
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