Blog 16 Oct 2023
Ethical or Privacy Concerns Related to Age Verification Systems

Privacy And Ethical Concerns Related to Age Verification

Author: Soban K | 16 Oct 2023

From social media platforms to e-commerce sites, the depth and breadth of digital experiences are constantly expanding. The increasing access and availability of content make young individuals vulnerable and it becomes imperative to use age verification software that protects young minds.

Key Takeaways:

  • Age verification involves collecting sensitive data, and raising privacy and ethical concerns, such as data misuse and long-term storage risks.
  • Age verification is essential for businesses to protect minors and comply with legal and moral obligations.
  • Adherence to global regulations like GDPR is mandatory, and non-compliance can lead to severe penalties.
  • Facia addresses privacy and ethical concerns in age verification by prioritizing several key aspects such as user experience, global compliance, transparency, and strategic data minimization.

Age verification is essential in protecting minors from accessing inappropriate content online, but it brings challenges such as the collection and handling of sensitive data. In this blog, we’ll explore the complexity of age verification, its challenges, its importance, and its broader implications in a world that’s increasingly digital and interconnected. 

Why Businesses Need an Age Verification System?

age verification systems are vital for businesses. They ensure online safety, uphold digital integrity, and protect minors from age-restricted content. Moreover, they play a crucial role in meeting legal standards, particularly with laws regulating the sale of alcohol, tobacco, and adult content. Non-compliance can result in severe legal consequences and hefty fines. 

For example, Louisiana’s Age Verification Law is a testament to the critical nature of these regulations. Thus, businesses must prioritize age verification, not just for compliance but also to maintain trust with consumers and ensure a secure digital environment.

Explore in-depth Why the Age Verification System is Crucial in Today’s Digital Age

Ethical Concerns Related to Age Verification

Age verification is, by nature, an intrusive process. After all, you’re asking users to share personal data. Ensuring that this data is treated with respect and confidentiality is paramount. Yet, this indispensable process brings forth pressing ethical and privacy dilemmas. Let’s discover these challenges with data and real-world instances:

Data Collection and Retention

Users provide personal details during age verification, raising concerns about long-term data storage and associated breach risks. DoorDash, a renowned online platform, suffered a data breach in 2019 affecting 4.9 million users, spotlighting the dangers of prolonged data storage. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, cyberattacks skyrocketed by 600%

Misuse of Data

There’s potential misuse of age verification data for other aims, such as targeted advertising that compromises user trust. The 2018 Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal unveiled the risks of data diversion, affecting a massive 87 million users.

About 79% of consumers would reconsider their brand allegiance upon discovering irresponsible data usage, which is quite a significant figure. 

Invasive Verification Methods

Age verification techniques demanding official IDs or biometric scans may feel excessively invasive. India’s Aadhaar biometric system encountered criticism for its potential privacy infringements and misuse. Over 60% of consumers perceive invasive advertising as a privacy violation.

Impact on User Experience

Complex age verification might deter user engagement, Snapchat’s age verification system faced criticism for its complexity, leading to user discontent. Research indicates that 88% of online visitors are unlikely to revisit after an unfavourable experience. In such a competitive landscape, it is imperative for organisations to prioritise seamless user experience. 

Overreliance on Technology

Sole reliance on automated verification can lead to inaccuracies and potential breaches.

Some platforms have been criticised when minors are fooled by age restrictions using basic methods. Around 1.6 million online minors confess to furnishing inaccurate data to sidestep age constraints and create social media accounts.

Global Privacy Law Differences

Global-serving companies grapple with the intricate nuances of diverse regional privacy laws.

GDPR in the EU and CCPA in California present varied mandates, complicating compliance for international entities. Countries with data protection and privacy laws have grown from 66 in 1995 to 107 by 2019, reflecting the growing regulatory complexity.

The Risks of Data Retention

There are genuine concerns about what happens to the data once it’s shared. Stories of companies mishandling user information or falling victim to data breaches only fuel these anxieties. For example, in 2019, a major data breach exposed the personal details of over 1 million users on a popular online platform, emphasizing the ever-present risks.

Concerns Over Marginalized Groups:

An unintended consequence of stringent age verification processes might be the exclusion of marginalized groups. For instance, homeless youth, refugees, or children from low-income backgrounds might not have easy access to government-issued IDs, making them susceptible to being left out.

How To Address  Privacy & Ethical Concerns in Age Verification

How To Address  Privacy & Ethical Concerns in Age Verification

Solution To Ethical Concerns in Age Verification

  • Organizations can look into alternative methods for age verification, like biometric measures (voice recognition, facial patterns) or behavioural analytics. These methods, while not entirely foolproof, can serve as supplementary tools for age assessment without relying solely on official documents.
  • Knowledge is Power, running educational campaigns targeted at marginalized communities about the importance of age verification and ways to participate can make a difference.
  • Partnering with non-governmental organizations that work closely with marginalized groups can help in creating tailored solutions. These organizations often have insights into the unique challenges faced by these communities, making them invaluable allies in the age verification process.

Best Practices for Data Privacy

For age verification to be truly effective and ethical, companies must adhere to global data privacy standards, such as the principles outlined in the GDPR. This means ensuring data minimization (only collecting necessary data), purpose limitation (using data only for the intended purpose), and implementing robust encryption methods, especially when handling sensitive data from minors.

Safety, Accuracy, and Anonymity

  • Safety vs. Rights: Ensuring that age verification processes are accurate and safe. However, it’s equally important these methods don’t infringe upon individual rights, especially the right to privacy.
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) often raises concerns about digital rights. With age verification, the apprehension is about potential data misuse, surveillance, and censorship.
  • Robust data protection laws, data anonymization, and regular audits can ensure that age verification serves its purpose without compromising individual freedoms.

Age Verification: Between Hurdles & Horizons

Age verification faces significant challenges in ensuring both accuracy and ethical standards. However, there’s a lot of effort from vendors to improve their overall solutions. 

The Limitations of Traditional Checks

Reliance on methods like government-issued IDs or credit card validations has its drawbacks. The risk of minors borrowing IDs or accessing parental credit cards poses a genuine threat to the system’s credibility.

Emerging Tech Solutions

Biometric advancements, especially facial recognition paired with machine learning algorithms promise a safer future. They offer the ability to analyze countless facial aspects to gauge age, reducing the need for potentially falsifiable documents. 

Tackling the Challenge of ID-less Minors

One persistent issue is verifying the age of children without official IDs. With many youngsters, particularly in less-developed regions, not having formal identification, the quest for a universally adoptable solution continues.

statistics related to age verification for minors, highlighting risks and challenges.

How Solutions Like Facia Address These Concerns

  • User Experience: At Facia, the aim is not just compliance but also ensuring users don’t find the verification process complex. Through intuitive design and swift processing, Facia ensures minimal friction for users.
  • Compliance First: Facia stays compliant with global regulations, ensuring businesses that use our solutions are always compliant, irrespective of where they operate.
  • Addressing Concerns: Facia’s commitment to transparency means users always know how their data is used. By employing state-of-the-art encryption and ensuring data minimization, Facia places user safety and privacy at its core.


The digital age, while offering limitless opportunities, also brings its unique challenges. It’s up to businesses, regulators, and every stakeholder involved to ensure that the Internet remains a space that’s both innovative and safe. 

Facia champions this cause with advanced age verification technology and ethical practices to streamline age verification, prioritize user privacy, and enhance online safety. Let’s commit to prioritising the safety and well-being of our younger generations by preventing them from accessing inappropriate content. 

Join us in making the internet a safer place for everyone. Choose Facia, choose safety.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is secure age verification?

Secure age verification involves the use of advanced technologies and methodologies to confirm a user’s age, ensuring that the user has access only to age-appropriate content online. It includes employing various measures such as biometric analysis, and third-party verification services such as Facia.

How does age verification work online?

Online age verification is carried out through several methods, such as confirming a user's age through official documents, utilizing biometric technologies like facial recognition, or employing behavioural analytics to assess a user's age. The goal is to restrict access to age-sensitive content, ensuring online safety and compliance with legal requirements.

How minors bypass age verification checks?

Minors often find creative ways to evade age verification checks, including using false information, borrowing adults' identities, creating fake profiles, accessing age-restricted content on social media, and using virtual private networks (VPNs) to hide their true location and age. These tactics challenge businesses and platforms to enhance their verification methods.

Are age verification safe?

Yes, age veriifcation is safe when properly implemented, can be secure. Gathering personal information for age verification carries inherent risks, and the security of your data depends on the measures taken by the service provider. To enhance safety, opt for well-established and privacy-conscious verification services such as Facia.

Do online stores verify your age?

Online stores selling specific products are legally obligated to adhere to federal and state regulations. For instance, in the U.S., tobacco and alcohol sales are subject to a federal requirement of 21 years of age or older. Online retailers, like their brick-and-mortar counterparts, must verify that customers meet the legal age requirement before allowing them to make purchases.

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