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UK age verification sector urges ICO not to follow European porn regulation

OneID accredited for age verification of UK population
Categories Access Control  |  Biometrics News  |  Trade Notes
UK age verification sector urges ICO not to follow European porn regulation
 

The Age Verification Providers Association (AVPA) has warned the Information Commissioner’s Office, the UK data protection regulator, not to follow the lead of countries such as France and Germany in requiring only a selection of high-profile adult websites to enforce age verification rather than making it universal.

The association hopes that all such sites operating in the UK, whether based there or abroad, will be required to enforce checks with the anonymity-preserving technologies its members have been developing. These include AI-based biometric estimates of age via face and voice analysis.

“When the British Board of Film Classification was preparing to implement age checks of adult sites, it realised that it could only secure the cooperation of the industry if it committed to creating a level playing field, enforcing the new rules across all sites at the same time,” comments Alastair Graham, co-chair of AVPA.

“If only a handful are targeted, then those sites will have no choice but to fight the rules, as they are already doing in France and Germany, because they know that being the only sites to do so will potentially kill their business anyway. The adult industry is prepared to do the right thing, but it takes a strong and effective regulator to make them all do it at the same time.”

The association promotes data minimization and deletion: “No personal data is given to adult websites beyond a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response to whether the user is 18+, and no records are kept of which sites a user is visiting,” notes AVPA executive director, Iain Corby.

If all sites are covered, then all sectors of the industry such as advertising platforms and payment providers would be unlikely to work with any sites deemed to be breaking law by the ICO, the AVPA believes.

The AVPA has welcomed some of the updates from the ICO which it included in marking one year of the Children’s Code (or Age-Appropriate Design Code):

“We have seen an increasing amount of research (from the NSPCC, 5Rights, Microsoft and British Board of Film Classification), that children are likely to be accessing adult-only services and that these pose data protection harms, with children losing control of their data or being manipulated to give more data, in addition to content harms.

“We have therefore revised our position to clarify that adult-only services are in scope of the Children’s code if they are likely to be accessed by children.”

The code has gone on to be influential worldwide, from Europe, to Australia and California.

The AVPA has been working on the euCONSENT project to trial reusable, browser-based interoperable age verification and parental consent tools. The trials have been successful, but the French regulator has found the approach to fall short of its requirements.

OneID certified for online age verification services

UK digital identity startup OneID has received full Age Check Certification Scheme (ACCS) accreditation to authenticate online the age of more than 40 million people in the UK.

OneID is now an Age Check Provider and can be integrated into client systems. The company is also certified to the DCMS Digital Identity and Attributes Trust Framework.

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