The Growing Importance of Digital Age Verification

October 12, 2023
The Growing Importance of Digital Age Verification

In recent years, states and countries worldwide have been cracking down on age verification laws for a ton of different industries. The advent of delivery apps has further complicated matters, making it increasingly effortless for minors to obtain alcohol. This underscores the pressing requirement for more robust and efficient safeguards.

In today’s online world, businesses must prioritize digital age verification to safeguard brand reputation, prevent legal liabilities, and comply with regulatory requirements. This tool not only protects young and vulnerable people but also allows businesses to access wider markets and maintain user trust.

To fully understand what digital age verification is and why its growing importance is one to keep an eye on, let’s take a closer look.

What is age verification? 

As the name suggests, age verification verifies if a person is the age they claim to be. Governments worldwide have established regulations that mandate a minimum age requirement for accessing certain products or services. 

Online age verification systems assist businesses in complying with these laws and regulations. These systems are available both online and offline to ensure individuals meet the minimum age requirement.

How does age verification work?

Verifying age is crucial for ensuring only individuals above a specific age can access products or services that have age restrictions. This involves verifying age through a driver’s license or another identity document. 

Liveness detection is another method of confirming the person being verified is physically present and not using a pre-recorded video. By employing such methods, age verification works towards ensuring compliance with legal requirements in many countries, particularly in industries such as gambling, alcohol, and tobacco.

Let’s take a look at the different methods of the age verification process and how they function.

Manual ID verification

With manual ID verification, an employee or a designated team manually verifies the age of their patrons. This could be as simple as a security team in a pub checking the IDs or individuals taking pictures of their IDs and sending them to a verification team to join a dating app. 

Manual ID verification does not work for many businesses. For one, it can be costly and time-consuming for businesses to verify the age of all their potential customers, leading to longer sales cycles and reduced conversion rates. Plus, the process can be a bit of a hassle for customers. They may need to provide personal information like their date of birth or government-issued ID, which can be a bit uncomfortable. 

That’s where automated ID age verifications come in. 

Automated ID verification

Automatic age verification systems utilize various techniques to accurately determine an individual’s age. Let’s have a look at how they achieve this goal.

Checking with age databases

Age verification systems use cutting-edge scanning technology to scan identity documents, like driver’s licenses and state IDs. The information obtained is then compared to government or third-party databases to guarantee the accuracy and authenticity of the data.

Face scanning algorithms

Facial recognition technology is a useful tool to restrict access to certain services to eligible users. By scanning a user’s face, an algorithm can verify if the individual meets the age requirements. 

Instagram, for example, already employs a comparable system to authenticate their users’ ages. To deter fraudulent activities, these algorithms often include liveliness detection features to prevent users from bypassing the system by holding up a photo of another person in front of the camera.

Tracking online activity

In order to maintain online age verification compliance, certain websites may request that users share their browsing history or allow tracking of their actions on the site. This ensures the website owner can verify the user’s age and provide a secure and safe online experience.

Importance of meeting age verification compliance standards 

With the rising risks of underage access to restricted content, adopting the latest age verification standards and technologies to meet legal requirements and protect your customers is crucial. Let’s review the importance of complying with age verification standards and how they can impact your business and customers.

State and federal regulations 

Depending on where your business is, different rules and regulations may apply. Rules restricting services based on age are often not blanket bans but are highly detailed. For instance, in New Jersey, 18-year-olds can buy lottery tickets or even bet on a horse race, but they’re not allowed to enter casinos until they are 21. 

Preventing identity theft and fraud 

Digital age verification is a powerful tool that can help businesses ensure they’re dealing with legitimate customers and enhance security. Verifying a user’s identity can reduce the risk of fraud by using methods like checking a user’s government-issued ID or using facial recognition technology.

To protect themselves from online identity theft, individuals can take practical steps like using strong, unique passwords for each online account, enabling two-factor authentication, avoiding public Wi-Fi networks when accessing sensitive information, and regularly monitoring their credit reports and financial accounts for any signs of fraud.

Companies like Drizly and GoPuff have successfully implemented digital age verification for security purposes. By leveraging this tool, businesses can enhance security and protect themselves and their customers from identity theft and fraud.

Online age verification regulations to know 

In the US, COPPA has been in effect at the federal level since 2000, and websites like YouTube have incurred heavy penalties for violating them. Until now, most laws have focused on preventing children from viewing inappropriate content, but many countries are debating laws to prevent social media addiction among kids. 

Besides accessing content, some regulations specify age verification for purchasing certain products online. For instance, ‘The Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act’ demands online businesses verify age during the purchase process and require an adult with an ID present at the time of delivery.  

Protecting minors from inappropriate content 

Age verification has become a crucial strategy for websites to ensure minors are not exposed to inappropriate online content. It’s a major concern and goal for governments worldwide to safeguard children from such material in the digital era.

Is age verification required at your business? 

Age verification requirements vary with industry, the products or services offered, and the laws and regulations in the jurisdiction. But if your business is in any of the following industries, you’ll probably need some level of age verification. 

Tobacco and alcohol sales 

Most countries and governments have federal laws mandating age verification before selling alcohol or tobacco products. This is particularly important for tobacco retailers who need to ensure they are not selling to minors. But these laws vary a lot. 

For instance, in the UK, the legal minimum drinking and smoking age is 18, while in the US, it is 21. At the same time, many European countries allow 16-year-olds to drink wine and beer but not hard alcohol until they’re 18. Some countries allow minors to drink with parental consent. 

Gambling operations 

Gambling operations are tightly regulated all over the world, if not outright banned. These laws also vary considerably. In Greece, the required age for gambling is 23; in Georgia, it is 25 for citizens and 18 for foreigners. 

If you’re managing gambling operations in the US, you have to verify the users’ age as well as your employees since individuals have to be above 21 to be employed by gambling operations. 

Gaming sites 

Gaming websites do not have stringent age verification laws. But games with extreme violence or inappropriate content have age restrictions, and most gambling laws also cover online gaming or other online services. 

Even if minors are allowed on gaming sites, website owners must ensure they’re not exposed to explicit content or acts by other gamers on their platforms. 

Medical services 

Medical services like online medicine or pharmaceutical delivery services need strict ID verification methods to verify a person’s age. They’re not allowed to dispense many drugs without a prescription, and in the case of over-the-counter medication, some are restricted to customers below certain ages. 

eCommerce businesses 

Online businesses selling age-restricted goods or services need age verification. This could be adult content or toys, tobacco, alcohol, or other products. In most jurisdictions, the same rules apply to online and offline sales. 

Food delivery services 

Food delivery services don’t have stringent age verification laws. Still, if the food products contain age-restricted products—for instance, alcohol—the business will have to verify the customer’s age. 

Adult entertainment

Regarding verifying age and the associated laws, adult entertainment services are one of the most tightly regulated. These age verification requirements apply to both online and offline businesses, and violations often carry severe penalties. 

Social media 

While there were never any age verification requirements specifically for social media sites, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and most other popular social media sites have set a minimum age requirement of 13. 

While there are no specific laws, other laws for protecting young people online may apply to social media sites. 

Why you need an online age verification solution 

The main reason is that manual age verification is not scalable, fast, or accurate enough. 

For a small offline business, it may be possible to manually verify the ID of everyone who enters the premises. But once the business grows and you have more patrons visiting your business, it will be difficult to manually verify every ID. Even if you do, patrons may wait for a long time, or human error could ensue. 

For online businesses, you’ll need dedicated personnel available 24/7 to verify the IDs of anyone trying to access your website. That could increase payroll costs. 

Online age verification, on the other hand, can be scaled as your business grows, is fast enough for a smooth customer experience, and reduces the risk of fake IDs. 

How to incorporate age verification into your business 

Depending on the nature of your business, there are various ways to integrate age verification systems into your operations. For brick-and-mortar businesses, you can require patrons to scan their documents using a camera or scanner connected to an online ID database before entering the premises. This confirms that only those of legal age gain access to your services.

You can incorporate age verification services into your website or mobile app and create an age gate for online businesses. This way, only those of legal age can register or access your services. These age verification services typically use various methods, such as document scanning, facial recognition, and database checks, to verify the user is of legal age.

Incorporating age verification tools into your operations helps you comply with laws and regulations and promotes a safer, more responsible use of your services. By implementing these measures, you can provide a better customer experience and ensure the safety and well-being of your patrons.

Looking for a sufficiently reliable age verification solution? Enter BlinkID. This cutting-edge technology can accurately verify the age of individuals through their ID documents. 

It’s fast, efficient, and can recognize common IDs from over 140 countries. The best part is that it can be easily integrated into your existing workflows. With SDKs available for Android, IOS, Flutter, and other platforms, as well as cloud APIs, you can seamlessly incorporate BlinkID into your business operations. By using Microblink’s solutions, you can guarantee your business is compliant with regulations and avoid potential penalties associated with age verification violations. Take the first step towards the future of age verification with Microblink and request a demo today.

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