Age Verification: Ensuring Youth Safety in the Digital Age 

Introduction to Age Verification  

Age verification is a process of verifying a user’s age who is trying to get access to social media platforms or purchasing age-restricted goods. The verification process safeguards youth from watching adult content and using services restricted by laws & regulations. As many businesses are shifting their services online, it’s crucial to verify the user’s age online before allowing access to the services. There are multiple methods by which businesses can perform online age verification of their customers such as identity document checks,  zero-knowledge proof, and biometrics like face recognition. 

Why Is Online Age Verification Crucial?

Compliance with age verification helps businesses to effectively adhere to regulations, and mitigate the risk of facing fines and other charges. By employing robust online age verification systems, businesses can illustrate their commitment to legal as well as ethical standards. This also helps to safeguard youth from the negative consequences associated with non-age-appropriate content while also ensuring their well-being.

Beyond compliance with regulations, robust online age verification systems offer numerous benefits to businesses. 

  • Online age verification ensures that only authorized users get access to the services, while also minimizing the challenges of identity theft and fraud. 
  • It enables businesses to effectively meet regulatory requirements, which can reduce the likelihood of facing heavy fines, penalties, and reputational damage. 
  • Robust age verification systems empower businesses to get a better understanding of who their customers are and also offer insights into the behavior and preferences of multiple age groups. 

Age-restricted Companies: Compliance and Verification 

Some companies are referred to as age-restricted companies owing to the nature of the goods and services they are offering. As the services and goods are deemed inappropriate for children under 18, and most of the companies provide services online, it has become crucial to conduct online age verification to prevent minors from accessing the services. 

Here’s a brief overview of the age-restricted companies and their compliance requirements 

E-gaming Industry

The online gaming industry involves a variety of video games, violent and R-related games that can pose serious threats to the mental health of minors. Moreover, it also induces a habit of e-betting and gambling in under-age children which is hard to cope with later. It is advised to execute online age verification and establish stringent restrictions to avoid later consequences. 

Tobacco and Alcohol Sales 

The minimum legal age for purchasing tobacco and alcohol is 21 across the United States. The merchants of both tobacco and alcohol products, including cigarettes, hookah pipes, smokeless cigarettes, nicotine gels, and dissolvables, are mandated to verify the age of customers before selling their products.  Non-compliance can cause the merchants to face serious penalties and heavy fines. 

Gambling Sites 

In many jurisdictions, the minimum age to engage in gambling operations is 21, while some jurisdictions have set the limit to 18 years. The United States authorized online gambling in 2021, and the market witnessed a significant rise in growth reaching nearly $2 billion in 2020. Along with the success of gambling operations, it’s obligatory to verify the age of potential players. 


There is a growing concern associated with the unauthorized use of parent’s debit cards to access age-exclusive products and services from e-commerce retailers. The legal age obligated to access e-commerce services is set between 18 to 21. E-commerce retailers are required to verify the age of potential customers to avoid any kind of fine and reputational damage.

Regulatory Frameworks for Age Verification 

Various jurisdictions have established robust age verification laws & regulations to protect minors from the negative consequences associated with the goods they are purchasing and adult content they are watching. 

Here is a list of four countries along with their robust regulations 

  1. United States 

The United States established ‘Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)’, effective from April 21, 2000, which implies the collection of personal information of children under the age of 13. The act outlines the crucial components of the privacy policy for website operators, the protocols for obtaining verifiable information from parents, and the obligations of website operators in upholding the privacy and security of children online.

  1. Europe 

Europe has developed ‘The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)’ to ensure the privacy and security of the personal data of individuals in the European Economic (EEA) Area and cross-border businesses handling personal data from EEA. Article 8 of the act named ‘Conditions applicable to child’s consent to information society services’, defines that the processing of the personal data of children aged at least 16 years should meet legal standards. However, for children below 16 years of age, the processing must be legal and endorse consent from the parents. 

  1. United Kingdom 

The UK’s ‘Digital Economy Act 2017’ contains a legal mandate on the provision of internet age verification systems. The act mandates that websites publishing pornography content must conduct robust online age verification to protect minors from accessing their websites. Failure to show compliance with the act could impose a fine on website operators up to £250,000 or block the website. Non-compliance can also lead to instructing financial or advertising services to stop dealing with such websites.  

The UK has also introduced the ‘Online Safety Bill’ which will require businesses to keep underage children away from certain content by performing age verification using biometrics. The companies will be required to comply with a list of requirements, non-compliance can result in serious fines and penalties. 

Final Thoughts 

Advancements in technology have made it effortless for children to bypass vulnerable online verification systems, highlighting their enhanced sophistication in operating digital platforms. Jurisdictions around the world are establishing robust online age verification regulations and making it obligatory for businesses to comply with these regulations. Talking about the methods of online age verification, age gating is a method that is easily bypassed by children due to its vulnerabilities, therefore it’s obligated to verify the age user by employing robust methods like identity document checks and biometrics. Effective online age verification will not only enable businesses to demonstrate compliance with legal standards but also safeguard minors from the negative consequences of accessing age-exclusive services. 

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