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Liminal compares biometrics and other age verification methods, urges interoperability

Yoti age estimation implementation expands
Liminal compares biometrics and other age verification methods, urges interoperability

Self-declaration for age as a means of controlling access to sensitive materials online is pretty much useless. Liminal starts here in an examination exploring the role age verification and related technologies can play in building trustworthy digital ecosystems.

Age assurance technologies need to be interoperable as well as adhering to standards that can foster trust and ensure the online space is safe for children. While waiting for those advances, online service providers need to implement the technology best suited to their own use case, Liminal says.

The post’s authors compare the situation to that of auto regulations. Lawmakers were forced to make a series of changes to existing rules for automobile safety as the 20th century wore on to address changes in both the risks introduced by technology and the expectations of the people driving and riding in motor vehicles.

In a similar way, commercial forces are pushing against business doing the right thing, and digital platforms were not created with age assurance or KYC processes in mind, the post says, noting that “Age assurance systems still sit in the middle of an ongoing tug of war between efficacy and privacy.”

In addition to self-declaration, the post considers the pros and cons of database checks, physical biometrics, behavioral biometrics, profiling, capacity testing, “electronic identity (eID),” and “self-sovereign verifiable credentials” as different methods of protecting children from inappropriate material online.

Physical biometrics are considered limited in terms of usefulness for age verification, due to privacy concerns and higher error rates for facial analysis of children. Behavioral biometrics address the privacy side, but not completely. None of the above methods are presented as having been proven up to the task, but digital identities and self-sovereign approaches using VCs are considered closest.

Prominent Yoti age assurance deployment expands

The deployment of Yoti’s facial age estimation to youth-only social media app Yubo has expanded to cover all users, not just those who have been flagged, as seen in Yubo’s updated terms of service.

The expansion to all users is part of a gradual roll-out plan, and was forecast by the companies earlier this year.

Users are instructed to make sure their face is fully visible, that they are alone in the frame, that they are not too far away or using a filter, and that “the lighting is good.” Verification is promised within 24 hours.

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