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Virtual ID card' will help in fight against internet paedophiles.

A "VIRTUAL ID card" designed to defeat online paedophiles was launched yesterday

Manufacturers of the NetIDme system claim it will remove the ability of perverts to hide their true age when chatting on the internet to groom children for sex.

Youngsters apply for the ID with their parents' permission, and get the adults to pay the pounds 9.99-a-year fee by credit card.

NetIDme then verifies the child's age with a professional person such as a doctor, teacher or lawyer who personally knows the child or an application form is stamped by the child's school.

Youngsters can then share their ID cards on line, theoretically proving their ages when using instant messaging systems for email on the Web.

NetIDme founder Alex Hewitt, developed the product after being horrified to discover his daughter had 150 people on her internet "buddy list", but knew the ages and identities of fewer than 50.

Mr Hewitt admitted that the system was not 100% foolproof in proving identities.

But he said it was a step in the right direction towards discouraging abusers from hiding behind the cloak of internet anonymity.

"Because the internet is an anonymous place, predators can get away with it," he said.

"This system removes the anonymity which is the main problem of the internet and provides traceability.

"It's easy for these guys on the internet to get access to children but we are raising the bar to deter them."

Asked if parents would come to rely on the system if they subscribed, even though there may be loopholes which can be exploited by paedophiles, Mr Hewitt said: "We are not giving them a false sense of security."

Parents will have to pay the annual fee for each child.

Apart from the verification checks with schools or professionals, there are also confidential checks devised in conjunction with the police which are designed to snare paedophiles who try to con the system.

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Net IDme founder Alex Hewitt with his daughter Hannah
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 3, 2006
Words:330
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