Online Age Verification – what does a good service look like?

Peter Violaris

In the real world, those who are lucky enough to look young have to prove their age for a whole host of things: purchasing alcohol, buying a porno mag, entering a bar, seeing a movie, placing a bet – or even just buying an energy drink in some countries.

But online, the opposite is true. Teenagers, even children, can buy alcohol or access hard-core pornography at the click of a button from their mobile. The age verification attempts are either non-existent or just a tick-box confirming that you are over 18.

Finally, that’s changing. Regulators around the world are addressing the harm this is causing to children and society as a whole. While the UK is set to introduce the Online Harms Act, in the USA, Louisiana is already forcing porn companies to age verify online. And in France and Germany, the governments are ramping up laws and enforcement.

What does a good service look like?

Fully automated

Website and app designers hate any friction and anything that increases the dreaded drop off rate. Why pay a fortune in advertising to drive traffic if your visitors then all drop off because of an age verification system that is not slick enough?

Age verification, even more than identity verification, has to be fully automated. That means no manual fall back, ever. At all. Not once. Not for anyone.

OCR Labs is a fully automated solution, and we own all our own tech. We get it right, and we do it entirely automatically in a matter of seconds. If you have to introduce age verification, then do it with the slickest tech out there.

Super secure

Consumers need to trust you and your website. A single breach by you or your suppliers can ruin years of goodwill. Your age verification provider needs to be super secure.

Super secure companies will also make it easy to understand what safety certifications it has. For example, as it’s laid out on the Trust & Security webpage, OCR Labs is one of the most certified companies offering age verification tools.

Zero bias

Having a service that only works well for white folks is simply not acceptable. It will lose you business, is unethical and is probably illegal. A lot of automated biometric technology simply does not work as well for people with darker skin – and that isn’t right. Ask your suppliers about their bias testing results.

OCR Labs has Zero Bias AI technology that is certified to have exactly that: zero bias between skin colours, as well as gender.

Compliant with regulations

You need to know that your regulator is going to be happy with your efforts to age verify. You will want a solution that is compliant for every territory that you operate in so that you do not have to integrate different suppliers or solutions for every territory.

We don’t yet know what technology each regulator across the globe will permit, but we do know that regulators normally allow you to verify age using government-issued identity documents. It reflects the permitted identity and age verification techniques allowed in real life, most people have them and there is comfort in their known robustness.

Stops fraud early

For many website or app operators an age verification check will be a simple regulatory tick box to tick, preferably with as little drop off as possible. But wouldn’t it be great if the age verification solution actually worked and stopped teenagers tampering their documents and beating less advanced age verification solutions?

An opportunity in disguise

Website and app operators are concerned by the new age verification requirements. It will mean less visitors and therefore lower revenue – simply because under 18s should no longer be able to access the sites.

But these new rules are also an opportunity to stand out from competitors. Those who choose a good service that meets the five points above will have an edge over those who do not.

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