The Importance of Age Verification

There is no doubting that people want to protect their personal information online. And, perhaps an even bigger concern is protecting our youth from the endless amount of content online. Many companies and websites have taken precautions for protecting underage users from accessing their site, and many other do not. There are obvious contenders such as adult sites and alcohol manufacturers that usually prompt visitors to enter their date of birth in order to access the site. While this is a very admirable thing to do, this practice is great in theory, not in execution. As a test, we surfed the web to find sites that asked for users to verify their age. Once we told the truth (yes, were over 21) and another time we lied. The site took the supposed date of birth both times and either let us see the site, or pushed us to another page. This shows the gap in the age verification process. Even though the site asks, there is no way to prove whether you are using a fake date of birth or not. Essentially, there is no other information that is run against the date of birth to verify that it is your actual birthday. 

As the Internet becomes vaster, more sites are putting an age restriction on their content. Social media sites such as Tumblr and Twitter are taking steps to help cut down on underage users. In some countries including the UK, the community is taking a greater stand on improving the laws around age verification. Some are even going to the extreme of attempting to have sites banned that do not verify age. While this may seem like a short term answer, in the long run, the way most sites are verifying age now, isnt really verifying anything at all - only that you know the cut off date for being of legal age. As more content becomes available online and web users only get younger, businesses need to find a smarter solution for verifying age. This can also help to protect against child identity theft as well, which is becoming a increasing big problem. More and more identity thieves are using children (some younger than 6) as their main target because they have clear credit and usually do not detect the identity theft until its too late.

Age verification is going to become increasing more important as more businesses move online. Even if your business currently has an age verification process, it may be time to truly analyze the information being asked in order to verify. You may find that verifying and authenticating age are two very different things.

[Contributed by EVS Marketing]