Today, many children have easy access to inappropriate stuff on the internet. They are open to buying age-restricted products through e-commerce stores. Online retailers selling age-restricted products such as knives, cannabis, alcohol, vapes, e-cigarettes, nicotine, adult DVDs, adult gaming, and medicines should take in place strict strategies to avoid selling such items to minors. For this, online age verification can serve the purpose. The online platforms that lack age verification are prone to minor attacks which results in regulatory penalties and reputational loss of online businesses.
According to the study by Statistica, in the United States, 61.5% of internet access is done by the age group of 14-17 in 2019 which was around 53.4% in the year 2013. This shows that children’s digital access is increasing at a high rate which demands digital age verification on a serious note. The online businesses providing age-restricted goods and services should make sure their customers should undergo age checks before proceeding to payment processes. In brick and mortar stores and physical pharmacies, it is controllable to sell goods to appropriate age buyers. But in online stores, it is a challenge to avoid minors from buying restricted stuff.
Age Verification and Adult Sites
Online retailers and dating sites are unaware of the need for age verification checks and associated local regimes. They left applying checks due to which they need to bear heavy cost. Some sites simply redirect customers to Age Affirmation Pages (AAPs) or ask to click on checkboxes before providing services, some ask the date of birth, but none of these make sure that the user is the one who he says he is. To ensure this, some sites have taken steps to perform id verification at account registration time and checkout processing. But, as it can also be dodged. There are many loopholes created by smart minors who try to defend the age checks to get access to the desired goods.
A dating site, Tinder was been questioned for its checks when parents came to know that their children are using dating websites and meet strangers. This criticism enforced Tinder to apply background age checks. Now, they first verify the age of the consumers and if, above legal age, they allow the user to use application.
How to Conduct Age Verification
Other than the aforementioned ineffective methods of performing online age verification, below are some other strategies that can overcome the innovative ways of minors to dodge the online system:
Identity Card Verification:
To verify the age of the subject, id card verification should be done, or it can be replaced with passport or driving license verification to make sure that the user is above the legal age. Some online stores, conduct ID verification at the time of product delivery but this solution is not feasible as it is time taking for the delivery system in case of confusion. Instead, using OCR technology, the age of the online user can be verified in which the user only needs to upload the clear picture of ID document and age checker software extracts the necessary information, verifies it and makes sure that the document is not photoshopped or tampered.
Credit Card Verification:
To check if the cardholder is in possession of it, credit card verification should be done. As it ensures that the user above legal age holds a credit card, therefore it serves the purpose of age verification. Before proceeding to the transaction, ask for the verification of the card. Research shows that a large number of children perform transaction through the credit card of their parents without their knowledge. To avoid this, ensure the real owner of a credit card before allowing transaction.
To wrap up, age verification software are available today, which automatically performs seamless age verification without compromising the user experience. Also, taking into consideration the laws by local regulations, age is verified according to the specified legal age. Online businesses should also be careful about collecting personal information from children. As children, privacy laws state that children’s data must be protected and parent’s consent should be taken before using it. Online businesses should acknowledge its importance to avoid harsh regulatory fines.