Officials Worry Underage Youth Could Access Anheuser-Busch's Beer-Themed Web Site


Friday, February 16th 2007, 9:26 pm
By: News On 6


ST. LOUIS (AP)_ Twenty-three attorneys general have written to Anheuser-Busch Cos., asking the brewer for better tools to make sure underaged viewers aren't accessing its new Bud.TV site.

The Web site launched earlier this month after the Super Bowl broadcast and streams beer-themed shows, sports events and musical acts 24-hours a day on the Internet.

In the letter the attorneys general ``strongly encourage'' Anheuser-Busch use a more effective age-verification tool. While Bud.TV asks for a name, zip code and birth date to check public records and verify the user's age, the attorneys general said that any underage youth who knows basic information about an adult could plug it in to access the site.

They request that at a minimum people should have to enter their name and full address, or a driver's license number, exactly as it appears on a government-issued ID before a person could access the site.

They propose several other possible safeguards, like sending a postcard to the home or making a phone call to check that a legal-aged adult, and not a child below the drinking age, is checking out the site.

The St. Louis-based brewer, in a statement Friday, called itself the first in its industry to adopt independent age verification for the company's websites. It said it has even faced some criticism that the age checks were too cumbersome and turning away some adults.

``Despite these extraordinary efforts, some have urged us to make the age verification process more difficult and even more invasive of people's privacy,'' said a company spokeswoman, Francine Katz, in a statement.

Maine attorney general G. Steven Rowe, who helped to spearhead the effort along with Louisiana's Attorney General Charles Foti, said he didn't have any evidence that underage children are accessing the Web site, but said it's clear that more could be done to safeguard children.

The 23 attorneys general who sent the letter are from Maine, Louisiana, Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.