Age verification has been in the news recently with a controversial law being pushed through by the UK government.
Age verification on pornography was to come into effect on 15th July 2019, but was delayed for a further 6 months on 20th June 2019 as the UK government had not told the European Commission their plans to introduce age verification.
With GDPR being a widespread move by the EU to bring regulations to the internet and data privacy, online age verification has been a law that the current UK government want to push through.
Age verification has long been an issue in a number of industries online. Age restricted items go against the anomalous nature of the internet, so how has the law kept up with these products and services online.
Gambling has long been a pastime across the world. Online gambling has been around since the start of the internet, available to anyone with a bank account and an internet connection. The concern with this is how young people can be exposed early to gambling and develop a gambling addiction at a young age.
Online gambling sites, managed by regulations from the Gambling Commission had 72 hours to verify the age of their players. Players could not take out their winnings until their age was confirmed and return stakes if the player was found to be underage.
New restrictions, now in place, demand that online gambling sites must perform age verification before a new customer deposits funds into their account. The verification also extends to free-to-play games.
Although online gambling for underage people is illegal and no gambling site wants underage players, these new regulations could impact traffic of gambling sites. Many players use the sites free-to-play games as just that, games. Forcing new customers to provide age verification data to play free-to-play games could push them away from these sites reducing traffic and conversion rates of non-gambling, overage players.
A positive of the new regulations is the speed in which winners will get their winnings. The lack of a 72 hour age verification period will make payouts almost instantaneous. There will also be a lower chance that underage gambling will take place, therefore a lower chance that young people will become gambling addicts at a formative time of life.
Buying alcohol in a supermarket is fairly straightforward. When purchasing the customer assistant will ask for identification to verify your age. However, with the rapid rise in grocery shopping online age verification checks become a lot more difficult.
It is illegal to sell alcohol to underage young people online, the same as in store and it is up to the online grocery provider to ensure they are not selling to underage buyers. The age checks before the alcohol has reached it’s final destination could just include a tick box to confirm that the buyer is over a certain age. Then when the alcohol reaches the customer the delivery driver asks for ID.
Streaming online has rapidly increased in popularity with the explosion of smartphones and high-speed internet widely available.
Children are more tech savvy from a young age compared to their parents. Operating a laptop or tablet is easy if you have been using them as a toddler. Live streaming is as popular with toddlers as it is with teenagers, so stringent age verification needs to be in place to protect children from the adult places on the internet.
With streaming the responsibility falls with the parents as to what sites are appropriate for their children. Education in internet safety needs to happen at a younger age to inform them about the dangers of using the internet and to tell parents if they come across inappropriate content. Also, sites need to mark content as not for children and create barriers for young people to be unintentionally exposed to unsafe content.
In these three online industries age verification is important to safeguard children and young people from being exposed to damage at formative ages. The internet is still relatively new and with the government, parents and websites taking responsibility to use age verification young people should be protected from harmful activitiess.