With the development of the Digital Economy Bill the issue of proving our identity, in particular proving our age, is one that has been a hot topic of debate over recent months. The Government has ruled that all websites showing age restricted content must provide restricted access to online pornography. Last year, one in 10 UK visitors to adult websites were children and the NSPCC has warned that a generation of children are in danger of seeing their ‘childhood stripped away’ because of how easy it is to access online porn. It’s time for a solution.
Age verification online would ensure that only young people are able to access under 18 websites (like anorexia chat rooms), prevent minors from opening inappropriate social media accounts, and ensure that they cannot access adult content. Currently, if we want to prove our age we have to show paper documents, such as a passport or driving licence. But it’s not sensible to show unnecessary amounts of personal information, like your address or passport number, to simply prove your age.
Yoti has been recognised in parliament as a modern solution for age verification online:
“The technology exists to do that. We have an incredible IT sector in this country, and it has invented ways to verify age in an anonymised way online, particularly with the use of passport data and biometrics. Companies such as Yoti have developed facial recognition apps linked to passports so that they can make sure, using anonymous data, that individuals are the age that they say they are” (Maria Miller MP).
“Earlier, we had mention of the importance of the method of verification and of the tool Yoti. I always pronounce it “yachty”, because I like yachty a loty, given that it means that databases are not built of what people are accessing, and individuals are protected” (Calum Kerr MP).
“We believe that the answer is to make sure that the type of verification required for pornography sites is itself specified in the Bill, so that personal data acquired by any verification process have to be held in an anonymised form. Other verification systems are becoming available, such as Yoti and VeriMe, that would meet the objections of many to this clause, which we all concede has the best of intentions” (Lord Clement-Jones).
“There are different types of age verification, which can be chosen by the consumer. The most recent, which is now available for general use, is Yoti. These methods are now available for use; this is not a question of pie in the sky, or of things not being available for a year or so. That makes the amendment highly practical, and it is absolutely essential for the protection of personal privacy” (Earl of Erroll).