October 26, 2004 5:00 PM PDT

VeriSign, AOL team up to make chats safer for kids

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VeriSign and America Online on Tuesday announced plans to showcase software for "safe chat rooms" this December.

The chat rooms will use authentication technology to verify a child's age. Sexual predators have been known to use chat rooms to befriend children and lure them to meet face-to-face. America Online provides a wide variety of chat rooms, and topics range from the innocent to the sexually explicit.

The companies said they would work jointly to spread the technology to schools and other youth and family forums. They are working in tandem with i-SAFE, a nonprofit body created to educate students about safe online behavior.

"AOL has always been a leader in protecting children and families online," David Gang, executive vice president of AOL Products, said in a statement. "Our partnership with VeriSign and the demonstration today with i-SAFE offer examples of how we plan to use new technologies to continue to protect our members, secure their communications and keep their identities safe from hackers and predators."

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