Skip to main content

Michael Becker, on October 20, 2022, was joined by Iain Corby of the Age Verification Providers Association, Dr. Rachel O’Connell of TrustElevate, Breno Pilar of IPIfication, and Keith Mabbitt of OneID for the MEF Webinar “Is it rude to ask your age? Actually no. It is a legal requirement.” Over an hour, the group discussed the current and future state of age assurance and its importance to nearly every business. In a nutshell, companies need to develop and adopt an age assurance strategy, now. In the webinar, they explain what’s happening, why it matters and what needs to be done.

Starting with the basics, Iain Corby notes, “age assurance is the broad term for understanding the age of your users or customers, particularly online.” That is to say, age assurance is a process you must go through, with an appropriate level of certainty, to know the age of the individuals exposed to your advertising and messaging, that visit your digital properties, purchase your products, or use your services. The context of your business will dictate the appropriate level of certainty you must have, i.e., no certainty to near, if not, one hundred percent certainty.

Why you Should Care

You should care about this topic because,
  • It’s the right thing to do.
  • There are new and existing commercial opportunities to increase revenue, reduce churn and cost, and mitigate risks.
  • It’s the law, and these laws require that you adhere to several obligations. If you can reasonably expect that the child may visit one of your digital services, and purchase or use your products and services, then you are, or you soon will be, be required to validate the age of the visitor and act accordingly as dictated by the regional and local laws and local customary norms. Ignorance of the law is not a defense.

What’s Next

The industry is evolving and evolving quickly. Companies like OneID, TrustElevate, and IPIfication, are coming together to develop new approaches toward age verification and instil interoperability across multiple solutions and contexts. Regulators are coordinating and enforcing the laws. More change is coming; get ready!

What You—We—Should Do

The umbrella term of age assurance encapsulates several concepts, including:
  • Age verification, a set of processes that use physical and digital, traditional documentation, e.g., credit reference, electoral roll, a driver’s license to ascertain somebody’s actual birthdate and, thus, their actual age.
  • Age estimation, a set of processes that use AI—e.g., facial pattern matching, voice pattern matching, factor and attribute analysis—to determine the likelihood an individual’s age falls within a given range and within an appropriate degree of confidence for the situation and context.

What’s Happening

Simply put, a lot is happening around age and the Internet. We can summarize this in a few bullets:
  • The ABCs, In the webinar, Rachel discusses the ABCs of age assurance (AI, Behavior, Content), which helps frame the issues.
  • Kids are being harmed, they are being exposed to inappropriate content, conduct, contract, and contracts, all driven by artificial intelligence and predictive behavioral models. Kids are 51 times more likely to be a victim of identity theft; they can fall prey to phishing, being bullied, being abused, and even being killed.
  • Parents are not empowered, parents are lacking the tools to manage their kid’s online use effectively and to manage consent.
  • Companies are being harmed, companies are being fined, they’re losing out on commercial opportunities and risking their brand reputation.
  • Identity is being digitized, identities are being digitalized, which requires an entirely new approach to physical and digital identity management and age verification.
  • New regulations are emerging, new age rules are emerging worldwide.
We closed the webinar by homing in on the fact that businesses should not wait to get their age assurance strategy in place. Driven by regulation and new commercial opportunities, there is no time to waste. In the webinar, the team laid out several recommendations and resources that you’ll find helpful. Such as, you can start working with various age assurance processes and solutions.
For instance, TrustElevate can help you conduct child data impact assessments and implement parental consent and age assurance tools. OneID can help you with bank-facilitated age ID checks. IPIfication can help you with carrier-facilitated age ID checks. Companies like Sinch can help you leverage Carrier APIs, and Telesign can help you create risk scores. There is so much possibility out there. The team discussed all these options and more in the webinar. We hope you enjoy it.The MEF PD&I Working group is finalizing the authoring of an age assurance whitepaper.
Please reach out if you’d like to get involved. If you have case studies, solutions and insight that will be helpful in our effort to provide an age assurance guide for the industry please get in touch.

Michael Becker

Advisor, MEF