US Brewing Giant Urged to Police Website Access

20 February 2007

ST LOUIS: Law enforcers in a number of US states have challenged brewing giant Anheuser-Busch over its new Bud.TV website which streams beer-themed shows, sports events and music. They are concerned under-age viewers are accessing the site and have written to the company requesting better age verification tools.

Twenty attorneys general want A-B to ask viewers to enter their name and full address, or a driver's license number, exactly as it appears on government-issued ID, before they can view the content.

They propose several other possible safeguards, like sending a postcard to the home or telephoning to check that a legal-age adult is looking at the site.

Currently A-B asks for a name, zip code and birth date to check the user's age. It believes its procedure is sufficiently tough and even claims the age checks are too strict and are declining access to some adults.

Protests company spokeswoman Francine Katz: "Despite these extraordinary efforts, some have urged us to make the age verification process more difficult and even more invasive of people's privacy."

Maine attorney general Steven Rowe says concern has arisen because Bud.TV is a different approach to traditional television commercials. As the brewer creates and controls the web content, he believes it has a greater responsibility to make sure young people are not exposed to alcohol-related marketing.

A-B also points it has several programs in place to prevent illegal underage drinking, including work last year with 28 attorneys general on a radio campaign.

Data sourced from Adweek (USA); additional content by WARC staff