Age verification and legislation
USA, UK, France & Germany a 2021 legislation glimpse
Online gambling, pornography, ordering tobacco, etc., all can all be very alarming signs in the modern digital world, especially when we consider the ease with which minors can have access to them.
As a precaution, many countries, and states in the US, have tried to manage, control, or even deny access to content that include the above topics. In order to do so, they have created accordingly laws and legislation that govern the ability of minors to access this content.
The variations of legislations and applicable laws between the countries pose a significant barrier on having common legislation. Yet, we can try to take a quick look on the changes to come as well as the current statuses that apply as of 2021.
In order to sell tobacco and nicotine vaping products in California, the seller has to “match the name, address, and date of birth provided by the customer to information contained in records in a database of individuals whose age has been verified to be 21 years or older.” In addition, under California law, the seller has to “also verify that the billing address on the check or credit card offered for payment by the purchaser matches the address listed in the database.”
For online sales of beer, wine or liquor most states require that the buyer present valid government issued identification to prove they are of age. Some other states, like Michigan, Georgia, and Ohio require online sellers to use an identification verification service at the time of ordering.
In addition, throughout the United States, it is now illegal “to sell any tobacco products including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes to anyone under 21.” Under the new Federal Law, the retailer is responsible for any sales of such products to underage customers, and the penalties can be quite costly.
In this context with regard to flavored e-cigarettes in particular, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated it would prioritize enforcement against sellers that do not use an “independent, third-party, age- and identity-verification services that compare customer information against third-party data sources.”
Likewise, in Canada, the national government regulator opined that “simple self-attestation of age” – meaning an age gate – is not enough to comply with the country’s laws against cannabis sales and marketing to minors.
Some important changes are coming into law in 2021, making providers of social and online gaming to have a busy year ahead if they want to ensure geographic jurisdiction and age verification rules requirements are met in Europe’s main markets.
Germany is toughening its stance on the protection of minors by making gaming and betting operators to ensure they have the necessary steps and restrictions in place to prevent underage users from accessing their platforms.
The Commission for the Protection of Minors in the Media (KJM) ensures compliance with Germany’s minor-protection regulations, which are anchored in the State Treaty on Youth Media Protection (JMStV) and stipulate that adult-only content should not be accessed by minors online.
In France, the new gambling regulator, l’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ), now acts as a single body to oversee all forms of gambling in the country, including online gambling, casinos, betting on horse racing and lottery games. It is currently finalizing two reference frameworks, one on the prevention of gambling addiction and the protection of minors, and the other on combatting fraud, money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
In the UK, organizations have until the 2nd September 2021 to prepare and agree for the Age Appropriate Design Code, a statutory code of practice for online services that requires digital services to automatically provide children with a built-in baseline of data protection. The recommendations span across all industries and are of relevance to organizations that provide products or services to minors, such as online games, social media, retail, and education, as well as those needing to restrict access to underage users due to the adult-only nature of their products or services.
The code sets new standards and offers some insight on how the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applies to organizations providing digital services to children. The Age-Appropriate Design Code also defines children as under the age of 18, in departure from the current UK data protection laws which, for example, allows minors 13 or older to legally consent to being tracked online.
The future and euCONSENT
In order to try and find a common legislative ground, EU has launched the euCONSENT project (https://euconsent.eu/) under the call: “Outline and trial an infrastructure dedicated to the implementation of child rights and protection mechanisms in the online domain based on the GDPR and other existing EU legislation relevant for the child within the online domain”.
The program is aiming to propose an interoperable solution to Age Verification and Parental Consent in the next 18 months. When completed the program euCONSENT will enable children to enjoy a safer digital world.
The objective of this project, initiated by the European Parliament, is to demonstrate an interoperable technical infrastructure dedicated to the implementation of child protection mechanisms (such as age verification) and parental consent mechanisms as required by relevant EU legislation (such as the Audio-Visual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)).
The euCONSENT solution will be designed with the guidance of the continent’s leading academic experts, NGOs and other key stakeholders in child rights and protections online.
AGEify (age-ify.com), plays a significant role in the program, as it has the technical lead of the entire project
With the technical knowledge of its software team and the experience gathered through the AGEify age verification solution, AGEify will play an important role in the upcoming legislative changes in the EU.
To learn more, click here: age-ify.com