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Report Remove - one year on

Report Remove - one year on

We’re immensely proud to be working with Childline and the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) as part of our ongoing commitment to child protection. It’s been just over a year since we officially launched Report Remove, a tool to help young people report explicit images of themselves on the internet. To use the tool, a young person needs to prove they are under 18. Yoti gives a young person a private and safe way to prove their age, without needing to show ID documents or share personal data. We’re delighted that our tech is helping to make a difference in protecting children online. Solving a growing problem There’s lots of positives of being online – we can stay in touch with friends and family, access information to enhance learning, listen to music, watch films and so much more. However there are times when caution is needed to promote safe use of the online world. One of the risks is when explicit images (sometimes called nudes or semi-nudes) of young people appear online. The reasons why explicit images are taken can vary, and can include being peer pressured, blackmailed, groomed by an adult, dared to take one, to taking images to build self-esteem or as part of a friendship or relationship. Whatever the reason, losing control of an image can bring a mix of emotions for a young person, some of which can be difficult to cope with. Last year, the IWF annual report reported an increase in the number of self-generated child sexual abuse images, most likely due to lockdown as many people spent more time at home and were socially restricted. These images were predominantly of 11-13 year old girls, in their bedrooms or another room in a home setting. In 2021/2022, Childline delivered 234 counselling sessions in which young people spoke about the removal of online sexual images. This was a 19% increase compared to the previous year. NSPCC’s Childline partnered with the IWF to create a tool for young people to report sexually explicit images of themselves on the internet to see if they could be taken down. And for the IWF to remove the image they need to check if the person is under 18. Once captured, explicit images could be posted online and recirculated for years after they were originally created. This is a form of sexual abuse that can be very distressing and have a detrimental impact on a young person’s emotional and mental wellbeing. The NSPCC has received reports from young people saying they feel scared or worried after sending a nude image. And there’s a real loss of control as they just don’t know where the image could appear and who else might have access to it. “What do I do if someone is threatening to post my nudes onto a website where everyone can see? I don’t send pictures like that at all, but then one night I got chatting with this guy online who I’d never met and he made me feel so good about myself – it felt like someone actually wanted me. He told me he was 15, even though deep down I didn’t believe him. I sent him a couple of nudes but then instantly regretted it. I asked him to delete the pics, but he just kept on making me do stuff for him not to post them – like getting me to strip live on camera.” (Girl, 15)* “I don’t know what I was thinking but I sent pictures of myself to this random guy online. He’s now threatening to post the pics on Facebook unless I send him more. I’m freaking out right now, I have no idea what to do. If anyone I know finds out about this, I swear my life will be ruined.” (Girl, 14)* No young person should have to feel this way. Report Remove is helping to protect children online We collaborated with Childline and the IWF to help create Report Remove. The first of its kind, the tool allows young people to report images or videos of themselves that have been shared, or they’re worried might be shared, online. To have a nude image removed, young people must verify that they are aged under 18. Childline and the IWF approached Yoti to see if there was a more private way for a young person to prove their age – one that didn’t rely on them uploading ID documents online or revealing lots of personal information. We’re committed to building tech for good, so we were delighted to be able to help. Once a young person has verified their age using Yoti, they can anonymously report the images and videos to the IWF. The IWF will then check if the content is criminal and, if it is, create a unique digital fingerprint known as a hash, which will be shared with tech companies to help prevent the image or video from being uploaded and shared. Report Remove provides a child-centred approach to image removal, one that can be done entirely online, accessed anytime and puts the young person back in control of their image. The tool is hosted on the Childline website, where young people can access further information, other self-help tools and emotional support from a counsellor. So where are we a year on? We can happily share that many young people have already used Report Remove to see if nude images of them can be removed from the internet, putting control back into their hands and bringing peace of mind and reassurance that their image will no longer be online or be seen by others. Susie Hargreaves OBE, IWF CEO said, “We’re so proud to have created a way for children and young people to regain a sense of control and empowerment. Report Remove, being a world-first, meant we needed to overcome many legal and ethical considerations and think creatively about how to deliver a child-centred tool which works. “Our determination and strong partnerships with Childline and Yoti meant that we succeeded. We haven’t finished, however, as challenges remain. Helping to build awareness among young people that this service is there for them is crucial. And as technology emerges and shifts, we too must keep up to ensure children and young people get the support they deserve.” Cormac Nolan, Service Head of Childline Online said, “At Childline we know that having a nude image shared online without their permission can have a huge impact on a child, and often affect their mental health. “Some children might blame themselves and feel ashamed and embarrassed, whilst others might be afraid to speak out because they are worried about the potential repercussions. “That’s why Report Remove is such an important tool as it provides young people with a way to try and help them regain control over what is happening and get illegal content erased. “With Yoti’s help, anyone under 18 can use the app safely and confidentially in the knowledge that IWF and Childline will do everything possible to remove the content and support that young person moving forward.” We’re immensely proud to be working with Childline and the IWF as part of our ongoing commitment to child protection. This is the perfect example of how our leading age verification technology can make life better for young people and support organisations committed to helping young people online. Please get in touch for further information or to arrange a demo.   *All names and potentially identifying details have been changed to protect the identity of the child or young person. Quotes are created from real Childline service users but are not necessarily direct quotes from the young person.

7 min read
Play Verto research: young people’s attitudes towards facial age estimation

Play Verto research: young people’s attitudes towards facial age estimation

We joined forces with the team at Play Verto for an exciting piece of research to understand what young people thought about facial age estimation technology. Facial age estimation accurately estimates a person’s age based on a selfie. We built it to give everyone a secure way to prove their age without sharing their name or an ID document. The technology can help businesses to create age-appropriate experiences. It can prevent kids from accessing age-restricted content and platforms, and prevent adults from entering platforms for children and engaging with a younger demographic. The results Play Verto reached out to parents and teachers of children between the ages of 9 to 14, to gain their consent to allow the children to take part in the research. Of the 247 children who participated, 2 in 5 claim to have lied about their age online either sometimes, or frequently. 10.5% expressed doing it on a regular basis. This demonstrates why better age verification is needed, and the role this can play in protecting young people online. 50% were curious about how the technology estimates their age. Over four fifths (84.6%) of children said they do understand why websites check age. In regards to facial age estimation, 67.5% understood what the selfie was for and how it would be used. 88.3% said they found the instructions to use facial age estimation easy to understand. It’s very encouraging that despite facial age estimation being new, 62% of children said they were either likely or very likely to use it again. In most cases they found the technology easy to use and understand, and 50% were curious to understand how it could estimate their age. Even though they were not the intended respondents of the research, a number of parents decided to answer the questions on facial age estimation. In the interests of transparency we’ve included these results too. Of the 126 adults, 92.1% said the instructions to use facial age estimation were easy to understand. The vast majority (90.5%) said they understood what the selfie was for and how it would be used. 16% did not want to have their selfie taken. We acknowledge that more needs to be done to reassure those who are unsure about this part of facial age estimation. Conclusion “We concluded that there is a need for accurate age estimation technology to become amply used on the internet to protect young children from accessing inappropriate material for their age. There was some hesitation from a small percentage of adults about having their selfie taken. We advise Yoti to reassure individuals that as soon as their age has been estimated, their selfie is deleted. We feel it is also important to educate parents, guardians and caregivers about the benefits of facial age estimation and the important role it can play in protecting children online.” Michael Sani, CEO Play Verto. “Some well known, global brands are using our facial age estimation to help provide age appropriate experiences online, to ensure young people cannot access 18+ content, and to provide parental consent on behalf of children. As this latest research with Play Verto shows, both young people and adults find facial age estimation easy to use and understand. It is the private, safe and easy way to prove your age.” Julie Dawson, Director of Regulation and Policy at Yoti. If you would like to learn more about age estimation, you can read our FAQs or feel free to get in touch.

3 min read
Post Office EasyID: a look back on the past year

Post Office EasyID: a look back on the past year

It’s been 12 months since the Post Office EasyID app launched, giving people an easy and safe way to prove who they are. We’re delighted to share the progress Post Office, together with Yoti, have made over the past year on our joint mission to build the UK’s trusted identity network. There’s been plenty to celebrate and some big milestones we’re very proud of. Over three million app installs 🎉 Over three million people in the UK have downloaded the EasyID and Yoti apps, showing that people want a more modern way to prove their identity. Our digital ID apps give people an easier and safer way to prove who they are. Wherever you see the EasyID or Yoti logos, you can prove who you are using your phone, and the number of places you can now use a digital ID is growing. Watch an age rated film at the cinema. Prove your right to work or right to rent. Grab an energy drink or buy a lottery ticket from your local shop. Check who you’re talking to online. Collect a parcel from your local Post Office. This is just the beginning for digital ID. Keep your eyes peeled for more exciting ways you’ll be able to use EasyID. Helped people securely store and share their ID details 📲​ Over the past year, we’ve helped hundreds of thousands of people share their verified identity details, with a business or another person. Anyone with the Yoti or EasyID app can swap their details with another person and be confident about who they are dealing with. These peer to peer checks create more trust and transparency between individuals. They are free and can be done in seconds. EasyID and Yoti can also be used to share verified details with a business. Both apps allow you to just share the details necessary – such as a name or date of birth – instead of revealing an excessive amount of personal information. It’s the safe way to prove who you are. UK cinemas now accepting EasyID 🍿 One of our proudest moments from the past year was when the UK Cinema Association announced that EasyID would now be accepted as proof of age at cinemas.​ Young people can now use our digital ID apps to watch an age rated film, instead of taking important documents out with them. This is safer (say goodbye to the worry of losing your passport in a dark room) and more convenient (just show the cinema attendant your digital ID on your phone). It’s better for cinemas too – with less pressure on cinema staff to accurately check physical ID documents. First government certified provider for digital Right to Work, Right to Rent and Criminal Records checks 🙌 Post Office and Yoti became the first certified digital identity service provider (IDSP) under the UK Digital Identity & Attributes Trust Framework, for Right to Work, Right to Rent and criminal records (DBS) checks. This is another milestone we’re incredibly proud of.​ The Easy ID and Yoti apps give people a simple way to prove their identity with their phone, particularly useful for people like contractors and temporary workers who need to do this regularly. Alternatively, businesses can use our web service that requires a customer to simply scan their documents and add any other required information. Finally, we also provide in-person identity verification services in Post Office branches for people unable, or who choose not to, do so online. Together, Yoti and Post Office offer the most comprehensive solution – offering individuals three ways they can prove their identity and complete Right to Work, Right to Rent or DBS checks. The Post Office PASS card 🪪​ Everyone needs simpler, cheaper ways to prove their age. After all, not everyone can afford a passport and some people aren’t old enough to have a driving licence. This is why last September, Post Office launched the new Post Office PASS card, a physical ID for just £15. The PASS card, issued by CitizenCard, can then be used to create a digital ID with the EasyID app. Young people then have a reusable, secure digital ID they can use over and over again. It’s easy to share only the details you really need to, whenever you need to. Launched in-person verification for the most inclusive identity services solution 🤩 Together, we give people a convenient and safe way of proving their identity – both online and at their local Post Office. We offer three ways for someone to prove who they are – with our digital ID app, online or in-branch at a Post Office. This makes our offering unique, the most comprehensive and inclusive – as no other identity provider offers in-person verification. Here’s to the next 12 months Together with Post Office, we are transforming the way that people prove their identity in the UK. We’re already working with some of the UK’s largest recruitment companies, including uCheck, People Check and Talent Clouds, for digital Right to Work and DBS checks – to get people into jobs faster, reduce recruitment times, streamline onboarding processes and remove geographical barriers to employment. We’re thrilled that more companies are embracing digital identity technology every week. We look forward to helping more individuals securely share their identity details in the year ahead and what’s in store for the future of digital ID here in the UK!

5 min read
Yoti is now an accredited Living Wage Employer!

Yoti is now an accredited Living Wage Employer!

We’re joining a movement of thousands that believe in a fair day’s pay We’re proud to announce that Yoti has received accreditation and joined thousands of organisations, businesses and people across the UK that support the real Living Wage. So what is it? It’s the only UK wage rate voluntarily paid by businesses who believe their staff deserve a pay that allows them to earn enough to live on and meet their everyday needs. Yoti has always been completely committed to the welfare of our staff and we value everybody across the company. We pay £11.05+ an hour in London, and £9.90+ an hour to UK employees outside of London, and this extends to our third party contracted staff such as cleaners and security.

1 min read
Everything you need to know about our facial age estimation technology

Everything you need to know about our facial age estimation technology

We’re really proud of our age estimation technology, but it’s important to us that we tackle some common misconceptions. So we’ve answered some of the most important questions we get asked about age estimation. What is age estimation? Our facial age estimation technology accurately estimates a person’s age based on a selfie. We built it to give everyone a secure way to prove their age without sharing their name or ID document. This privacy-friendly approach doesn’t require any personal details or ID documents, and all images are instantly deleted once someone receives their estimated age – nothing is ever viewed by a human. It can’t link a name to a face or identify anyone. This is the difference between facial analysis and facial recognition.   How does it estimate age? The technology has been trained to estimate age by looking at facial features in an image. To the technology, the image is simply a pattern of pixels, and the pixels are numbers. Our facial age estimation technology has been trained to spot patterns in numbers, so it learns ‘this pattern is what 16 year olds usually look like’.   Is it facial recognition? No. The technology uses facial analysis to estimate a person’s age without identifying or recognising any individual. When estimating age, it doesn’t cross-check people against a big database of faces, it simply estimates the age of the image presented to it. The technology never knows or learns the name or identity of a person. This has been acknowledged by multiple regulators and has prompted the ICO to update their definition of biometrics and agree that “Yoti’s age estimation tool will not result in the processing of special category data”.   Where did the data come from to train age estimation? Most of it comes from Yoti app users. We use the photo from an ID document and the date and year of birth. We ask them to allow us to use the data to train our technology during the account creation process. Those users can withdraw their approval to use their data for training purposes at any time through the Yoti app. All our data for under 13 year olds has been collected specifically for the purposes of training the age estimation model and the parents or guardians have freely given consent during a specific data collection exercise. We have ensured we have obtained a balance of gender identities, images and different skin tones to minimise bias in the algorithm – we have not used any images scraped from the internet.   Is the technology more accurate than humans at estimating age? It can be difficult for humans to be sure whether someone is over 18 just by looking at them. When guessing the age of another person, we tend to underestimate the age of older people, and overestimate the age of younger people. Our ability to estimate accurately tends to decrease as we ourselves get older. That’s why policies such as ‘Challenge 25’ exist, which ask customers to prove their age if they appear to be under 25. This builds in a safety buffer of 7 years given the legal age for buying alcohol in the UK is 18. Age estimation can be configured to work with legal age thresholds in a similar way. A retailer using age estimation at self-checkouts can build in a buffer of 7 years, meaning anyone estimated to be under the age of 25 will not pass and will need to prove their age another way. If we look at the accuracy of the technology when estimating the age of an 18 year old, there is a mean absolute error (MAE) of 1.22. This means an 18 year old could be estimated to be 17 or 19 years – too high or too low. This is why businesses using age estimation can use a threshold, like Challenge 25, to have greater confidence that someone under the age of 18 would not be able to buy an age restricted item. Another way to measure the accuracy of age estimation is using a True Positive Rate (TPR). This is the probability that an actual positive will test positive, meaning an 18 year old is correctly estimated to be under 23. The TPR for 13-17 year olds correctly estimated as under 23 is 99.65%. This gives regulators a very high level of confidence that nobody underage will be able to access age-restricted content, and the technology can be used in a variety of settings to strengthen age checks – retailers selling age restricted items, adult websites or content providers, and gambling terminals. We continually measure the accuracy of our technology and improve it.   Is it biased against skin tones? At Yoti, we take our ethical responsibilities as a company developing new technology very seriously. The data (face image and month and year of birth only) used to train the algorithm is obtained by Yoti in accordance with the UK GDPR during the onboarding process for the Yoti app or using consented data collection exercises. We train our AI with images from a wide demographic of society and then test how well it estimates people’s age for different genders and skin tones. This allows us to see where it needs to improve so we can train the model in those areas. We also invest heavily to minimise bias and make sure it works well for everyone. You can see in our white paper that there’s minimal bias across gender and skin tone for 6-12 year olds, with more bias for older adults. While this is something we’re improving, it’s more important that the model is accurate for 18-25 year olds.   Is age estimation secure? We created age estimation to give everybody a secure, private way of proving their age. Security, therefore, isn’t just a priority, it’s fundamental to everything we do. Privacy is a key consideration of age estimation – there’s no login required or the need for an account with Yoti. People simply present their face to a webcam or camera on a device, and as soon as their age has been estimated from that image, the captured image is deleted. We have been independently audited both by the ICO and KPMG on this process of deleting images. The ICO’s report is public and KPMG’s is available on request. We also commission regular external audits of our business and have been certified to meet some of the world’s most stringent security standards, such as ISO27001 and SOC2 Type II.   Is my privacy protected? Yoti’s facial age estimation is built in accordance with the Privacy by Design principle in the UK GDPR. No individual can be identified by the model and it is designed to minimise the data shared, so instead of requesting an ID document, it just needs an image. This image is never seen by a human and is deleted as soon as the age has been estimated. We also designed it so that no individual can be identified by the model. For this reason, the ICO has stated that it can be distinguished from facial recognition technology, as it’s not being used for the purpose of uniquely identifying individuals. Instead, it’s used to categorise people by age. They concluded that our age estimation tool will not result in the processing of special category data.   How is age estimation currently being used? Instagram is using the technology to verify the age of users in the US that change their date of birth from under 18 to 18 or over to make sure both teens and adults are in an age-appropriate experience for them. Social network Yubo uses age estimation to check the age of users across all age groups, to help safeguard young people online and ensure young people are not engaging with adults. UK supermarkets have trialled age estimation at self-checkouts to give shoppers an easy and quick way to prove their age, without needing to show an ID document or wait for assistance. During the trial, shoppers purchasing alcohol could simply look at a camera on the self-checkout to verify their age before completing their purchase. If the system detected a customer looked younger than 25, they could prove their age through the free Yoti app instead. For those who did not wish to use this technology, they still had the option of showing their ID document to a member of supermarket staff.   Any other questions? We hope that this answers some of your questions about age estimation. If you still have any questions or would like to learn more about our technology, feel free to get in touch.

8 min read
Explore cards - What are Yoti cards and how do we use them in the Digital ID app?

Explore cards - What are Yoti cards and how do we use them in the Digital ID app?

Making Yoti relevant and useful whilst preserving privacy We want to make sure that the Yoti app is useful to our whole community. We built Explore – a place where you can discover where you can use your digital ID. We also have some special offers for community members. This will look exactly the same in the Post Office EasyID app. Country-specific content In your digital ID app, you will only see content that is relevant to your country. This means that we only show you partners that you can use your digital ID with or offers that are available in your country. The app knows which country you are in by using your phone number’s country code. We do not use geolocation information to do this. This may mean that when you travel to a different country, you will still see offers only relevant to your phone number’s country code.   Keeping children safe Some of the organisations that accept our digital ID apps require their users or customers to be over a certain age. For example, buying alcohol from an online store or using an age-restricted social media provider. To ensure we adhere to the UK Childrens’ Code and similar Childrens’ Codes that are evolving in other countries, all users will only see content that promotes age-restricted products once your digital ID app knows you are the appropriate age.   Your app will only recognise you’re the appropriate age if you have uploaded your ID. The app will automatically be updated to show you appropriate content. This information about your age is not seen by anyone at Yoti because we cannot access your personal data.     Our Privacy first approach means you will see content that may not seem relevant to you. Other than country-specific and age-related content, we will not (and cannot) show you content that is specifically appropriate for you. This is because we have no access to your online browsing history, and we do not record how you as an individual use the app.  We do not ‘learn’ from your behaviours. When you click on an Explore card, we do not track your onward journey. We do not and will not send or sell any of your personal data to the next site that you visit unless you expressly consent via your app to share the data. You always have to consent to sharing information with other companies if you choose to visit their site. This means that using your digital ID app is much more like going to your local shopping mall than typical online shopping.   We think this is a better, more private way to shop. You make all the decisions. No one is trying to nudge you towards buying something. You are simply able to browse anonymously without anyone knowing what things interest you.    Making content more relevant in the future As we get more partners and offers into the app, we will try to make the offers more relevant to you. But we will still never profile you. To start with, you will be able to filter by category. So, if you just want to see what special offers are available, you will be able to go straight there. If you just want to get some advice on how to stay safe online, the information will be there. As we develop further we will let you tell us what information you’d like to see.  And to reiterate, if you never want to see offers and simply want to read the latest news about Yoti, we will let you tell us what you want to see. If you then change your mind, you can always reset to see everything once again. In the meantime, please do use the Feedback area of the app to tell us more about the type of content you would find useful.   Yoti sometimes makes money from partners and offers in the app We think it is important to be up front about the way businesses make money. Yoti makes money by charging businesses who need to verify your identity. Some of our partners also choose to feature their products within the Yoti app.  We charge some of those businesses a small marketing fee, usually a percentage of the money you pay them.  We always do our due diligence on partners promoted within our app to make sure they are legitimate businesses. However, it is important to clarify we are not a price comparison app. This means we cannot guarantee we will be showing you the lowest price for a product. We will, however, do our best to ensure it is a good deal for the community. By working with our business partners in this way we’re able to keep our app free for individuals like you. We have new businesses signing up every week to use Yoti. So make sure you check your Yoti app regularly to learn more about what we’re up to and see how you can make the most of your digital ID.

5 min read