Age Verification Laws and Regulations For MinorAuthor: Luke Oliver | 27 Oct 2023
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In today’s world, it is crucial to maintain the safety of our minors and prevent them from accessing inappropriate content. The influx of technology and the availability of devices mean that parents/guardians can only monitor the online activity of children to an extent. This lays greater emphasis on businesses to increase their efforts to prevent children from accessing certain content.
Age verification is a process that allows a platform to verify the age of an individual before granting access. It’s a way of ensuring that minors stay protected and businesses stay compliant. There are various industries that deal in age-restricted content and products which are harmful to individuals below a certain age. It is imperative that these industries introduce robust measures such as AI-driven age verification solutions.
Similarly, we will also discuss the importance of global age verification solutions, their effectiveness and how businesses can stay compliant.
Age Verification Law for Minors Worldwide
Age verification laws for minors vary globally, with each jurisdiction adapting its legislation to address the unique challenges posed by the digital landscape. The intent across the board is to protect minors from accessing harmful content or participating in activities unsuitable for their age, such as purchasing tobacco, or alcohol, or being exposed to explicit content online.
These laws play a crucial role in ensuring that businesses and online platforms operate responsibly and safeguard minors’ well-being.
COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act)
COPPA is one of the oldest regulations that came into being in 1998 in the United States and mainly looks out for children under the age of thirteen. Websites that are directed towards children must make sure they follow COPPA’s rules, such as asking for parental consent before collecting personal information from children.
Before COPPA, websites could sell that data, which was clearly an unethical practice. It did not only mean that advertisers were getting data without individuals’ consent, it also meant predators could get hold of the data of children. COPPA stepped in to ensure parents had a say in allowing their children towards sharing their data.
Statistics showed that the law has made a real difference, acting as a powerful shield against the misuse of children’s data online. COPPA was the foundation of age verification regulations and minor protection
Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection (COPPA 2.0)
COPPA 2.0 was introduced to provide protection to children up to the age of 16. It allowed teenagers the autonomy to determine how their data was going to be used by websites that collected it.
COPPA 2.0 became an integral requirement because of the amount of information teenagers were being exposed to. The proposed amendments to the original COPPA regulation were unopposed because everyone unanimously understood the dangers of information exposure and data collection for young individuals.
Kids Online Safety Acts (KOSA)
The Kids Online Safe Act (KOSA) was also introduced in the United States to protect kids from harmful online activity. It was introduced in 2022 and highlights the importance of online content moderation and its significance in allowing kids to have a safer online experience.
KOSA is a key act that would push social media platforms towards adopting age verification solutions. The impact of cyberbullying and inappropriate online activity has been massive on young kids. This impact is likely to increase exponentially unless both businesses and regulatory authorities are able to curb this issue.
New York Child Data Protection Act
The New York Child Data Protection Act is another legislation that focuses on preventing websites and apps from collecting data on individuals under the age of 18. It encapsulates all digital services that aim to collect personal information from individuals for better usage experience or any other reasons.
The act also sets forth regulations for disclosing the purpose of using such data. Companies will be prohibited from giving that data to third parties without agreed consent and if they do not comply, the Attorney General take legal action against them.
Age Verification Laws around the World
Different parts of the world have their own rules when it comes to protecting kids online. However, the purpose remains the same and the urgency has increased in the recent past. Since device accessibility is easy and there are plenty of options for kids to stumble upon the online world, the world understands the need for tighter regulations. Let’s discuss how they are categorised around the world
Social Media: The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) is a cornerstone, primarily regulating the collection of personal information from children under the age of 13.
Online Gaming: A mesh of federal and state laws along with voluntary systems like the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) play pivotal roles in delineating the boundaries of access based on age.
Explicit Content: A patchwork of state and federal laws contributes to forming the regulatory environment controlling access to explicit online content.
United Kingdom: Online Safety Bill
Social Media: The UK has introduced an Online Safety Bill, a legislative proposal aiming at meticulously regulating content across social media platforms.
Online Gaming: Supervision is maintained by bodies like the UK Gambling Commission, ensuring a regulated environment within the realm of online gaming and gambling.
Explicit Content: Discussions and legislative efforts, such as those under the Digital Economy Act 2017, continue to unfold, reflecting the dynamic nature of regulations governing access to explicit content online.
Australia: Online Safety Act 2021
Social Media: With the enactment of the Online Safety Act 2021, Australia emphasizes a broad approach towards ensuring the online safety of its citizens, with implications extending to social media.
Online Gaming: Regulatory bodies such as the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and the Classification Board orchestrate the governance of online gaming services, ensuring the implementation of suitable age and content ratings.
Explicit Content: Regulatory practices in this domain are harmonized with broader classification enforcement mechanisms.
Social Media: The country leans on general data protection laws, intertwining them with specific provisions focused on the safety of minors in the digital space.
Online Gaming: Instruments such as the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (JMStV) shape the operational age verification systems within online gaming.
Explicit Content: Age verification mandates, structured under laws like the JMStV, influence the accessibility of various online content types.
Social Media: Privacy stands at the forefront of regulations, with laws such as the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) safeguarding user information, with a keen emphasis on minors.
Online Gaming: The landscape is shaped by voluntary rating systems complemented by provincial regulations, harmonizing to set age verification standards.
Explicit Content: A blend of federal and provincial laws delineates the boundaries, regulating access to explicit content, and ensuring a safer online environment for minors.
Social Media: A diverse set of laws collectively works towards enhancing online safety and ensuring the protection of minors against potential digital threats.
Online Gaming: Specific regulations such as the Shutdown Law or Cinderella Law play a crucial role, mandating limited gaming hours for minors to foster a balanced online lifestyle.
Explicit Content: The implementation of Real-Name Verification Laws facilitates more regulated access to websites featuring explicit content, promoting a safer digital space for younger audiences.
Social Media: Legal frameworks have been meticulously developed to protect minors from harmful online content, ensuring a safer social media environment.
Online Gaming: The regulations are dynamically constructed, focusing on safeguarding minors against potential exploitative practices and harmful content in the gaming realm.
Explicit Content: A synergy of national and prefectural laws collaboratively operates to regulate and manage access to explicit online content.
Social Media: The Information Technology (IT) Rules 2021 embody provisions explicitly focused on the protection of minors in the digital ecosystem.
Online Gaming: Various regulatory instruments are deployed to oversee online gaming, emphasizing the suitability of content to protect minors.
Explicit Content: Provisions embedded within the IT Act play a crucial role in governing the access and sharing dynamics related to explicit online content.
As per COTPA. No sale of tobacco products or nicotine inhalants to individuals under 18. allowed
France Age Restriction Law
The sale of spirits, alcohol, and knives to minors is restricted in France, with certain authorized exceptions. While there is no direct regulation specifically for tobacco products, marketing or selling them with demonstrative intent is prohibited.”
Social Media: A fortified legal framework led by cybersecurity laws unfurls a protective environment aimed explicitly at safeguarding minors in the digital realm.
Online Gaming: The landscape is punctuated with stringent regulations, distinctly limiting gaming hours and overall access for minors, promoting a controlled and safer gaming environment.
Explicit Content: A comprehensive approach utilizing cybersecurity laws and additional regulations is employed to shield minors from explicit and potentially harmful digital content.
In Ontario, Canada, selling or supplying tobacco or vapour products to anyone under 19 is illegal. Retailers must verify the age of any customer who appears under 25. Compliance signs must be clearly posted based on the products sold, as per the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017.
Safeguarding minors should not be the responsibility of governments only, and regulations allow them to push that responsibility toward companies as well. Since there are so many apps and websites that collect information, regulatory compliance is the only way to bring them under the same umbrella.
Age verification needs to be more extensive, than just a mere checkbox that individuals have to click before accessing a particular website. It needs to be robust enough to identify the age of the individual and then conduct the decision-making process of granting or revoking access. Facia and other face recognition providers are going a step further to introduce liveness detection with an age verification solution. It will not only confirm the individual’s age through an AI-driven process, but it will also ensure that the person trying to access the content is a verified individual, and not a fake or imposter.
Frequently Asked Questions
Online age verification actively confirms a user's age through digital means, ensuring compliance with age restrictions for accessing specific online content, products, or services.
Age verification mechanisms proactively prevent minors from accessing content or purchasing products online that are inappropriate or harmful for their age group.
An age verification policy requires sellers to verify the age of customers, using reliable methods if the customer appears to be under 18 or another specified age.
This process involves verifying age by checking official documents like passports, national ID cards, or birth certificates. In such cases where these documents are unavailable, alternative verification methods are employed.
The responsibility for ensuring an effective age verification policy lies with the premises license or club premises certificate holder, particularly concerning the sale or supply of alcohol also in dating sites.
Opt for an age verification solution that ensures accuracy, efficiency, and privacy compliance, aligns with legal requirements, and integrates smoothly with your existing systems.