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Google receives certificate for facial age estimation in the UK

Google receives certificate for facial age estimation in the UK
 

Google has received a certificate of conformity for its facial age estimation technology that could help it prevent children from accessing websites with restricted content in the UK.

The tech giant has quietly appeared in a registry of providers approved by the Age Check Certification Scheme (ACCS), the UK’s program for age verification systems.

Although Google has not made any announcements regarding its age estimation product, the company is likely preparing for the UK’s Online Safety Act. The controversial Act, introduced in October, requires companies to keep children away from certain content by enforcing age limits and age-checking measures, including biometric methods.

Google’s technology uses a phone camera to capture selfie biometrics from the user to calculate their likely age.

According to the registry, the company received Evaluation Assurance Level 3 for age estimation technology. The product can estimate an 18-year-old as being under the age of 25 with 99.9 percent reliability. Google also received an Evaluation Assurance Level 1 for biometric presentation attack detection.

The news was first reported by The Telegraph, which notes that Google’s ability to scan faces to grant access to sensitive websites could raise privacy concerns, considering how much data the company already collects.

Among other firms that are pushing their age estimation technology is UK digital identity company Yoti, which has been working with Meta. In June, it announced rolling out age estimation for Instagram to an additional 125 countries and territories.

The Online Safety Act will prescribe heavy fines for firms that fail to comply. Companies could pay up to up to 18 million pounds (US$22.3 million) or 10 percent of their annual global turnover, while in some cases their bosses could even face prison. The UK’s communications regulator Ofcom will oversee enforcement. 

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