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Age checks are here and increasing fast; the race to strike privacy balance is on

Expert webinar panelists discuss insights from the UK’s experience
Age checks are here and increasing fast; the race to strike privacy balance is on

Any system for the online age checks that are being introduced for access to pornography and other online content will succeed only if it strikes an appropriate balance with user privacy. This is one of several key take-aways from the webinar held on Tuesday by Biometric Update and Goode Intelligence on “Age Verification: Lessons Learned from the UK.”

Legislators, regulators, technology providers and online platforms in the United Kingdom have spent more time and effort on putting measures in place to keep young people away from harmful material online than those anywhere else.  The process is ongoing, but already yields important insights for those attempting to navigate similar efforts in other countries.

Alan Goode, CEO and chief analyst of Goode Intelligence, revealed a forecast that there will be more than 3 billion age estimation and verification transactions carried out globally by 2029. Those include biometric age verification and age estimation, as well as methods with lower levels of assurance.

FaceTec has already performed about 189 million age checks around the world, many of them as part of the company’s default identity verification process, according to panelist and company SVP for North America Jay Meier.

Many of those were in other jurisdictions, as companies attempt to do the right thing, Meier says, and in preparation for future regulation.

For those in other nations, “You’re probably going to end up where we’ve ended up,” says Age Verification Providers Association Executive Director and webinar panelist Iain Corby.

Age Check Certification Scheme Founder and CEO Tony Allen pointed out that the UK originally attempted to legislate age checks back in 2017, in an attempt which collapsed because it failed to adequately account for user privacy.

Important areas for consideration identified during the discussion include the still-evolving landscape of technical standards and the ongoing efforts to refine vague terminology, like the requirement for “highly effective” age assurance methods in the UK.

The webinar features a lively portion of audience interaction, with dozens of questions posed to the panel. Many of those were focussed on the privacy implications of age assurance and the practical considerations of establishing sufficient certainty of the user’s age.

The webinar is available to watch on-demand for free with registration.

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