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Age verification drives online privacy and benefits digital businesses

Strong age verification is imperative to prevent law-breaking and filter out those who are underage, nudging regulators towards a wake-up call.

Posted by Mathias Klenk

According to Unicef, one in three internet users online is under the age of 18. As internet services proliferated, age verification has gained ample traction that it’s now come under the focus of several governments and enterprises.

We encounter it almost daily – whether it’s ticking a box when signing up for social media accounts or presenting your ID when buying age-restricted items like alcohol, age verification has been a topic that’s gaining attention.

Today, multiple products that range from e-cigarettes, dating apps, adult-only subscriptions that include magazines and content are sold online. Without robust age verification scanners in place, online platforms that offer age-restricted products and services could run into legal repercussions and face business risks if underaged consumers buy their products.

Tech is getting smarter for online platforms

With most businesses and brands moving their operations online, recent studies found that more than half of the businesses that came under the survey did not have a robust age verification scanner at the point of checkout or delivery.

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Several websites placed the onus on the customer to reveal their actual age but there was no mechanism or an age verification scanner in place to confirm if their date of birth is indeed correct. Other websites would ask customers to merely tick a box to confirm that they are over 18.

Businesses that rely on a third-party to deliver their products may run the risk of the delivery partner not asking for identity or proof of date of birth upon delivery. These measures aren’t adequate for age verification.

"Due to the sensitive nature of age verification data, there needs to be a higher standard of protection than the baseline which is offered by data protection legislation," says Open Rights Group executive director Jim Killock .

Without the required age verification scanners, online businesses may be pushed precariously close to legal issues. The FDA now legally expects businesses to have age verification scanners for some adult-only products.

Online cigarette vendors have to be careful since the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) legislation requires age verification software. These regulations won’t likely go away in the coming years.

As effective, easier-to-access age verification scanners become available, regulation should naturally become stringent. Businesses are tapping into age verification tools that are easy for consumers to use and doesn’t have a clunky interface or processing hiccups, factors that can kill conversion rates for a business.

With age verification scanners, adults can seamlessly buy age-exclusive products, the probability of underaged consumers getting their hands on harmful substances will be largely reduced and businesses will face fewer legal issues and fraudulent activities.

Age verification for websites should be supported by regulators working to create robust systems that enterprises rely on to prove the identity of their users, on-board new customers or efficiently manage data privacy.

Why biometrics play a critical role in authentication

Biometrics as a means of verification is quickly becoming mainstream – particularly because it promises higher security, greater accuracy and convenience to the user. With a large-scale shift towards mobile and IoT, biometrics are critical to identity verification tools that go beyond the traditional use of passwords.

“The time has come to embrace stronger methods of user authentication. Breaches are relentless and continue to point to stolen credentials as a high-value target for attackers. Many organizations are already stepping into the password-less future, and rightly so. I can think of no other solution that would have a larger impact in today’s threat landscape,” - Stephen Cox, a technology veteran.

Passbase enables identity and age verification through facial recognition and liveness detection through a video selfie format, backed by 6000+ supported government IDs. This facial signature can be used for age verification online, while giving the user more control over their identity, choosing what data to share and who to share it with.

For enterprises, this can also mean better customer satisfaction and higher revenues. Strong age verification scanners that provide a frictionless process to customers see better satisfaction rates, with revenue increasing by $6.52 per customer.

With robust digital identity and age verification scanners, businesses and users interact better – simplifying and securing everything from opening a bank account, accessing your social media accounts and email, to streaming content or online shopping.

For example, an individual can use their digital identity to prove their age without having to reveal other sensitive details like their address. It can be used to access a building instead of using an employee pass, and the same digital identity can be used to order medicines online, prove credit history and create social media accounts.

Facial Recognition Technology as part of Passbase' core product

With platforms that enable this for age verification online, users will be able to access the services or products they need quickly and conveniently – they needn’t type out their sensitive personal information or go through multiple authentications across different platforms. Better yet, it helps mitigate fraud and identity theft.

Age verification scanners will see both buyers and sellers benefitting from the process – where, despite its inadequacies, enterprises are able to confirm the age of a user. With facial recognition technology and other biometric tools, age verification for websites has become savvier. It can’t be long until age verification online increases accuracy and usage.

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