US state law will still accept biometric age estimation to block children’s access online
Age estimation with biometrics remains a viable option for keeping children in the U.S. state of Utah from accessing online content some parents wish did not exist. Verification still appears to be the process lawmakers prefer.
One of the nation’s most religiously conservative states, Utah this year passed legislation that makes firms responsible for rebuffing access to some online content by minors.
The goal is to limit the access of children – those under 18 years, in the United States – to social media, which research indicates can be harmful to the mental health and self-esteem of young persons. The new rule and backing legislation conflate social media with pornography although they are not significantly overlapping services or materials.
Publishers are on the hook for a number of related services including the creation of policies and software that shut out minors and verify the age and identity of all other visitors. That includes guardians. How guardianship is established is not mentioned.
The government has estimated that each age verification and parental consent will cost US$0.30.
In July, the state’s Attorney General said age estimation with face biometrics would serve Utah’s purposes in this regard but verification dominates the new rule. The rule’s authors allow for “estimating a current or prospective account holder’s age using facial characterization or analysis.”
Facial age estimation can also be used when an account was created, according to the rule.
Other approved verification methods are mobile phone account information, dynamic knowledge-based authentication, cross-referencing a person’s partial Social Security number against a third-party data broker.
California’s online child safety law was put on hold in a September court ruling due to concerns that age estimation with face biometrics is more invasive than the state claims.