Attorneys General Take Shots At Bud.TV's Age Verification Procedures

from the kids-might-get-influenced dept

Budweiser's efforts at creating its own broadband video channel, Bud.TV, have been hailed as a good example of how a brand can promote itself at a time when it's hard to reach consumers using traditional media. But, the company is already finding itself in hot water (via Broadband Reports), as the attorneys general from 21 states have criticized the company for not doing enough to prevent underage viewers from accessing the site. What's funny is that up until this point, the company has been criticized for doing too much to prevent people under 21 from accessing the site, to the point that it's deterring viewers who are of legal age. Already, Bud.TV asks users for their name, birthday and zip code, which it then matches against a database to verify a user's age. Apparently, the AGs would like Bud.TV to do things like follow-up phone calls to viewers in an effort to better verify that they are who say they are, which is a rather burdensome demand.

At first glance, some might dismiss the AGs' heavy-handed approach as an isolated problem because Budweiser sells a controlled substance, which brings up issues that don't apply to most companies. But, the more you look into the AGs' complaint, the more worrisome it actually is. They're concerned, among other things, about the ability for a viewer to email content to someone else, which they see as a way to circumvent the age restrictions. Of course, being able to share content is one of the key features of many new media ventures. Will they make the same complaint when some company offers R-rated content and allows users to email their friends, who might not be 17, about it? More broadly, the concern of the AGs is heightened because the venture represents "unknown and unmeasured" territory. Essentially, what it boils down to is that Budweiser is being targeted for doing something new. If it were to run the same content on regular TV, nobody would be clamoring for safeguards to ensure that young people can't see it. The company wouldn't be expected to make calls to viewers to verify their age. But because it's breaking new ground -- and because it's easy to vilify the dangers lurking on the internet -- it's being held to an absurdly high standard.
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  1. identicon
    ShadowSoldier, 22 Feb 2007 @ 5:44am

    What next?

    Is the AG going to arrest parents for drinking alcohol in front of their children, even if say they are 18,19,20. The entire 21 drinking age is silly and pointless, but making a company waste millions of dollars to "call back" people who try and register for their site, at that point they'd have to charge you to go through the process of registering.

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