Age Verification Ultimate Online Protection for Minors

Age Verification – Ultimate Online Protection for Minors

The rapid increase in the use of the internet is raising some major concerns for parents regarding the online protection of their children. With the world moving towards digitisation and smart devices, every child is now exposed to the digital world. Whether it’s about watching youtube videos or playing games online, the children are regularly using mobile phones and tablets. On the internet, no one knows who you are. The freedom of staying anonymous on the internet allows anyone to get registered on any website using any identity information. 

Generally, to register on any site, we need an email address and some personal information like name, gender, date of birth, etc. For instance, Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo provide easy access to free email accounts, without proper verification of the individuals. Any child can get a free email account and use it for age-restricted sites, i.e. dating and porn sites, gambling platforms, and online liquor stores, etc. by misinterpreting their age and identity. Similarly, the same thing goes for adults as well that they can access services and products by manipulating their age.

“Act your age” isn’t applicable anymore in the digital world

The widespread use of the internet and smart devices has exposed the minors to the dark side of the web. Although the existence of child predators, pedophiles, fraudsters and cybercriminals is not a new phenomenon, however, the ease of access to social networking and other online platforms has contributed in an unsupervised encounter between adults and minors. This has grabbed the attention of cybercriminals and fraudsters providing them another opportunity to exploit the identities of children.

 

 

Exposure of children to the internet has raised serious concerns for the parents. The curious nature of kids to explore everything online is landing them in a dark pit divulging in illegal activities. According to NHS survey of smoking, drinking and drug use among school children (11 to 15-year-olds) in England -in 2016, three percent said they were regular smokers, 74 percent said they find it very difficult to give up smoking and 6 percent said they were currently regular e-cigarette smokers. 

Moreover, minors are actively seen accessing social networking platforms and multiple age-restricted websites. The substantial risk associated with such platforms is the lack of proper age verification and authentication checks. According to the Young People and Gambling 2018 report, more than 450,000 children aged between 11 to 16 place bets regularly. Not to forget that gambling is illegal in most countries that too for minors. Furthermore, the presence of kids on the internet has resulted in increased Children Identity theft and fraud, eventually causing millions of losses for parents.

Age Verification – the need for Online Businesses

The anonymity on the internet and negligence of the businesses to confirm the age of their users is proving harmful not just for the kids and their families but for businesses as well. In the past few years, some deadly events took place due to a lack of age verification checks on the retailing stores. In 2014, a 16-year-old boy murdered the schoolfellow by brutally stabbing him with a knife. When investigated, he claimed to order a knife online from Amazon. That wasn’t the only case.

The rapid-increase of such pernicious incidents and children’s identity theft has propelled government and regulatory agencies to take steps against such incidents and come up with measures to avoid them in the future. To protect minors’ identities online and safeguarding them from age-restricted content, products, and services, the government has strictly imposed legal penalities for the businesses that fail to verify the age of their users before allowing them access to mature content. 

The businesses that don’t confirm the age of their customers before allowing access to age-restricted content can face up to two years of imprisonment and fine. According to the Digital Economy Act 2017, the commercially operated age-restricted websites must ensure that their users are 18+. In the case of failure to comply, the regulators are empowered to fine them up to £250,000 (or up to 5% of their turnover) and order the blocking of non-compliant websites.

Goals of Age Verification for Children:

Performing age verification online is essential to protect children’s privacy, ensuring their safety from cyberbullies and assuring that they don’t gain access to inappropriate and mature content.

Read this white paper on age verification to learn more.

 

 

Performing age verification online is hampered by the fact that children generally lack credentials and proof to verify their age themselves. Therefore, access to age-restricted websites and mature content is limited to the users who can prove they are adults. If the user fails to verify their age and identity, the will be straightforwardly denied access. Moreover, there are some websites that perform identity authentication for adults and on the basis of their authority as a legal guardian, age verification of their children can be performed. In this way, the parents can track their children online as well.

Online Age Verification Keeps A Tight Rein On Minors

Online Age Verification Keeps A Tight Rein On Minors

According to The Newyork Times, online age verification is a daunting task, even for experts. However, there is an increasing need for online businesses to build a sound and robust system for users’ or buyer’s age verification. More recently, businesses have also been made legally bound, if not morally. The UK government passed a law on December 2018, which renders businesses and online services to apply age verification measures.

It isn’t that most of such websites don’t put safeguards for age verification; most of them do as they are required to do so legally. However, in most cases, such safeguards are bypassed by clever underage visitors, determined to buy age-restricted products and services. The following are the ways how some online business sectors can use digital identity solutions to keep users’ identities safe and ensure age verification requirements are followed:

Online Gaming & Gambling

Online gamers are increasingly using real currency to pay for in-game goods. Regulators allege these exchanges open up new pathways for criminals to commit digital fraud and launder money. In addition, it’s possible that online gaming could be damaging young players, eliciting gambling addiction. These concerns are prompting regulators to go for identity and age verification in the online gaming world, but each game faces its own set of challenges during identity authentication.

Another solution is liveness detection, which requires players to be physically present during the verification process so they can submit photos, video playback to confirm their identities.

Social Media

According to BBC News, renowned messaging service WhatsApp is banning under-16s from using its platform in the European Union. 

Almost all other social media services require users to be at least 13 years old to access and use their services. This includes Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and Skype. There is no age restriction for watching videos on YouTube, users need to be 13 or older to have their own YouTube account.

Social media is under increased scrutiny. There have been reports in recent weeks that children as young as eight-year-olds are using dating apps. While internet security is a moving paradigm, one thing that’s clear is a lot of challenges associated with social media are about identity. Verified digital identities and effective age verification can solve several challenges that hamper a safe social media experience, especially for children and young people.

A digital identity company from the UK has been recently partnered by a social networking site Yubo, which is using their age estimation technology to flag any accounts where people appear to have misstated their age. In this regard, Yubo can be confident that individuals on their site are of appropriate age, creating a safer platform. So digital identification can curb fake social media accounts.

Online Stores-Age Restricted Products

According to a recent report by Sandhills Sentinel, one of North Carolina’s top prosecutors expanded his efforts to halt e-cigarette sales to teens on Tuesday by suing eight more manufacturers and sellers of vaping products.

Josh Stein, the Democratic attorney general is filing lawsuits against eight companies that make or sell e-cigarettes and related products to underage people. Juul Labs announced that Juul is working to implement an ID verification system that prohibits selling of e-cigarettes to underage shoppers. The company said that it has enhanced its online age verification process and stopped the sale of flavors other than tobacco and menthol in retail stores so that sales can be restricted to adults only.

The products which are age-restricted are delivered. Relying on the delivery person to verify the customer’s age comes with inherent risks. For instance, how to be certain that the delivery guy has identity and age verification expertise? Are they thorough in doing their due diligence on each customer that they deliver to? Is there a way to track the verification and authentication process? 

For instance, online alcohol sales grew tremendously in the past few years. In a recent string, it came to light that over 20% of underage people were able to buy it online through some app. So this surely can be stopped by using identity verification software. When someone orders anything, before checking out, age and identity should be verified digitally to avoid forgery and limit the sales of such products to adults only.

GDPR and Age Verification

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force on 25 May, will give people much more control over how companies use their information. Rules are included to protect minors whose personal data is processed to provide online services. Most social media apps, including  Snapchat, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Musical.ly and Reddit, are restricted to those aged 13 and over. This is in part because of US law – the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (Coppa) that bans online services from collecting personal information about younger children.

Facebook has launched Messenger Kids, an app for children as young as six, last December. It is an ad-free service designed to be compliant with Coppa.

Age Verification – A Legal Requirement

Whether you run an online gaming (gambling) service, or an online store selling eCigarettes, cannabis or alcohol, conducting age verification is a legal requirement in jurisdictions that permit such online activities. Like identity verification procedures, age verification shouldn’t serve the purpose of regulatory compliance alone; it needs to be designed to deliver an optimal online experience that prevents minors from entering age-restricted sites.

Online businesses should have a robust system where they can verify users’ age. Recently, businesses have been made legally bound by regulatory authorities to verify. In December 2018, the UK government managed to pass legislation that requires businesses and age-restricted online services to abide by age verification measures. Furthermore, many businesses outsource their courier services and therefore, leave the delivery person to perform an identity checks of the buyer. But not all delivery services are liable to do so. Thus there is a need for a reliable age verification service.

Age Verification

Why age verification matters to online businesses?

Identity verification services are fast becoming a business norm for companies that are enthusiastic about cutting down on losses originating from online frauds and identity thefts. But not all KYC verification is performed to cut down on losses. Sometimes, companies use KYC services like Age verification in order to ascertain the age brackets in which a particular user falls in. Now the benefits of using Age verification services from a reliable KYC provider vary from company to company. But before we discuss why you might be in need of Age verification, it is important that you are briefed about age verification and how it is performed by top identity verification services around the globe.

Age verification services

As the name suggests, Age verification is performed to check for the age of a user or a potential customer. Usually, a customer provides a tentative age or maybe their date of birth while signing up for a service or registering with an online business. While a basic KYC system will be checking for facial verification and authenticity of the identity document provided by an end-user, an advanced KYC software will also check for the age of a user to make sure that the age bracket or the date of birth provided by the user is valid.

How Age verification is performed?

Like an ordinary date of birth verification, age verification is also performed with the help of an official identity document. It is important to check the authenticity of an official document before it is used to ascertain the age of a user. Most of the time, a company that wants to perform age verification for its users, also provides an age bracket or an age limit to KYC provider. At the start of the age verification, a user is asked to tell their age by the automated system. Afterward, a separate screen is displayed, instructing the user to show an authentic identity document with their date of birth clearly mentioned on it. Identity verification system cross-checks the date of birth with the provided date and then performs age verification by checking that whether a user falls in a particular age bracket or not, or that the user is within the prescribed age limit or not.

You might think that why a company would require to perform Lifetime Analysis for its users if they have already validated the date of birth of a user. Valid Question! here is your answer. In a typical date of birth verification service, an identity verification system only checks that the date of birth provided by a user is also mentioned on the official identity document. Age verification goes a step further from that. It not only checks the date of birth from an authentic identity document, but this service also makes sure that a user falls into a particular age bracket.

Why Age verification is performed?

Age verification can be performed for a number of reasons and it all depends on the business model of the company that wants to utilize this kind of verification service. A social networking website specifically designed for teens can use age verification to avoid users that don’t fall in the age limit of 13-19. Banks or insurance services can use age verification services to allow users to sign-up for age-specific services e.g. retirement fund registration, old age health care plans and many more similar packages.

Age verification can also come handy for businesses that want to only register or sell services to a specific category of users to avoid encountering online trolls and unnecessary user traffic. This kind of identity verification feature is also perfect for companies that don’t want to actually stop people of a certain age from signing up for their services but that want to bracket their users in specific age groups for the purpose of analysis and customer behavior studies.  

Services from Shufti Pro

Shufti Pro is an AI-based identity verification system that also offers age verification service to its customers. With an ability to verify identity documents from every country of the globe and with the added bonus of Universal Language Support, Shufti Pro becomes the perfect choice for companies with a worldwide presence. Real-time verification results are provided to Shufti Pro customers with proof of verification available 24 hours to our clients in Shufti Pro back office.

With “Pay As You Go” pricing feature, you will only be required to pay for the verifications that you perform without being bound to any monthly limit of minimum verifications. Our customer support is totally free of cost while our RestFull API makes integration process entirely hassle-free for our customers. In case you need, our technical team will be more than happy to address any of your concerns about any integration related problem or functioning of age verification module.

Not a single second will be wasted in downtime if you decide to integrate Age verification module of Shufti Pro with your online services. If you combine document verification with age verification, Shufti Pro’s hybrid technology of Artificial and Human Intelligence will ensure that only verified and authentic identity documents are used by your future potential user base to perform Age verification. So your journey to build a reliable customer base starts with the top of the line verification services from Shufti Pro.