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AOL: Volunteers Must Be 18 or Older

July 23, 1999

DULLES, Va. (AP) _ America Online has decided that its nearly 14,000 volunteers who lead chat rooms, report violations of Internet rules and answer the questions of puzzled users must be old enough to vote.

``Hosting chat rooms and monitoring message boards, being a community leader requires certain life experience, certain maturity,″ AOL spokesman Rich Damato said Friday. He said the age requirement will affect several hundred volunteers who have yet to turn 18.

Damato said the change was unrelated to a recent U.S. Department of Labor investigation and a lawsuit by seven former volunteers, who claim the volunteers should be paid for their work under federal law.

The Dulles-based Internet company has more than 17 million members, excluding its CompuServe brand, and employs 12,000 workers, not including volunteers.

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