opinion

Adapt Or Die

Joan Irvine

Like it or not, we live in a world of constant change. Technology and software used to be good for ten years, then five, then two – now we’ve lucky if it’s six months. It’s mind blowing and resource draining. In the past a caused-based association like ASACP could focus all its effort on its primary mission —in our case online child protection, with a few fundraisers to financially support these efforts.

Now we need to continually revamp systems, update our websites; stay up-to-date on new technologies and communication methods (Facebook, Twitter) and stay on top of U.S. and international legislation. At times it feels overwhelming and I long for the simpler times of the past.

Please join ASACP by meeting these issues head-on, in an intelligent, well-informed business manner, show the legislators and parents that we are a concerned and responsible industry.

Then I remember the many conversations with my mother when she dwelled on the past, the simpler times, and how she wished it would just be that way again. I would tell her, “you can’t live in the past, you have to stay current or you will just seem and grow old.” She could never understand that if one does not stay current, the world just passes you by.

I am reminded of this all the time. Recently I attended XBIZ LA and spoke with many people. One person talked about how their company’s service would make videos profitable again by offering an alternative distribution method to replace the Internet; a method that one would need to go to a physical location to buy a video. I could not believe I was hearing this. The Internet is here to stay. In fact, distribution just via computers and websites is almost passé. There is mobile internet access, mobile apps, social media, chats, and whatever new methods that will be developed in the near future. To stay in business the industry needs to be nimble and adapt to all of this.

I am pleased to say that ASACP has been keeping current with its Restricted to Adults — RTA label. It is available for websites and mobile apps. The 'metadata' is recognized by most computer and mobile operating systems, parental control systems, and Tim Henning, V.P., Technology and Forensic Research, developed mobile app software (which once again ASACP is giving to the industry to use for free).

However, there are some things from the past that keep on resurfacing (it’s as if my mother who would be almost 100 if she was still alive was a legislator): age verification. I don’t get it. Last year, ASACP released a RTA Progress Report that informed people that there are over 2.5 million sites labeled with RTA and 10 billion monthly hits to pages labeled with RTA; as of Feb. 15 those numbers are four million and 20 billion.

There have been three major mainstream studies that state age verification is one tool but not a silver bullet. What it really comes down to is that parents don’t want to take the time or the responsibility to implement the existing (and many free) systems to stop their children from accessing age-restricted content. But as we all know it garners more votes if legislators go after the ‘porn’ industry rather than asking parents to do their jobs. However, we in the industry are aware that all this is a smoke screen; in reality it’s not about the protection of children, it’s about religious-right people trying to push their morality and anti-sex agenda onto the rest of us. Damn, is it the ‘50s again?

We can live in the past and ignore what is going on in the U.S., U.K., Australia and other countries with age verification and blocking or we can face up to current reality: like it or not, these are hot issues and we need to deal with them. Not that we don’t fight and continue to point out the errors of their ways, but it’s also important that we as an industry also have a seat at the table and a say in which system is used.

Please join ASACP by meeting these issues head-on, in an intelligent, well-informed business manner, show the legislators and parents that we are a concerned and responsible industry.

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