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“The Digital Economy Act – The Truth”: AgeID

AgeID says it wants to set the record straight on user data privacy under pending UK smut age check rules. "As soon as a customer enters their login credentials, AgeID anonymises them. This ensures AgeID does not have a list of email addresses. We cannot market to them, we cannot even see them"

By CBR Staff Writer

Last year, the government took the landmark decision to introduce age verification to pornographic websites accessed from within the UK, as part of the wider Digital Economy Act 2017. Since this decision and the announcement from a number of companies that will be creating software to allow websites to comply with the upcoming legislation, there has been a range of stories about what the Act is and isn’t, and what it will mean for the British public. We at AgeID want to set the record straight and address some of the misconceptions that have been discussed recently.

Firstly – many companies who provide age verification data, or customer-facing age verification solutions, have provided their expertise to the regulator. No party will partner with the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) to implement age verification. The BBFC will assess each age verification system in accordance with the ratified regulations and guidance.

We have been developing our UK product since the legislation was first announced by the UK government, evolving into a secure, robust, private tool designed to allow verified adults to seamlessly traverse all sites protected by AgeID.  Whilst we are still waiting on the regulations and guidance to be implemented, it is impossible to finalise the product completely, but as online age verification has been in place in other industries, such as gambling, there are already several methods which we expect to satisfy the regulator. These include Credit Card, mobile SMS, passport and driving licence. However, it is important to note that these methods are provided by third parties, AgeID is simply a single sign-on which aggregates these options. AgeID will also be fully compliant with all data protection legislation.

“AgeID will not be able to monitor any browsing activity if access has been authorised”

We are one of many companies responding to the proposed laws and while we cannot comment on other verification systems, we can confirm that when AgeID is live, the platform will not, and cannot store any age verification data.

When a customer chooses an age verification method, they will be redirected to a regulator assessed 3rd party. After this process, AgeID will receive a pass or fail result either allowing or blocking an individual’s sign on attempt. AgeID will not be able to monitor any browsing activity if access has been authorised. In order to first register with AgeID, a customer will create an account using an email address and password. This is to ensure ease of use for the customer, so they can return to any AgeID site without going through the verification process multiple times.

This login is not stored in the usual manner in which an authentication system stores such information. Both email address and password are encrypted via a one-way hash, creating an anonymised reference that cannot be reversed engineered to reveal the original data. In essence, as soon as a customer enters their login credentials, AgeID anonymises them. This ensures AgeID does not have a list of email addresses. We cannot market to them, we cannot even see them.

AgeID has been created to fully comply with the legislation, however, we firmly believe that parents are best placed to supervise their children’s online activity, not the government. We are concerned that the mandated, proportionate approach to regulation (starting with the top 100 sites and working down) will not achieve the child protection aims of the law, as un-monitored children will still find non-compliant adult content via a simple search query.

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If children are still able to stumble across adult content once the law comes into force then children will be no more protected than they are today, and there is a danger that parents will cease to supervise their children’s browsing habits, believing the law now adequately protects them. The proposed regulation runs the risk of sending a message to parents that they can take their eye off their children’s browsing habits. That said, we hope that the regulator is sufficiently resourced to carry out its function successfully and is able to monitor the 4million+ domains which host adult content.

Finally, there have been various statements made on the pricing of this service. User experience and satisfaction are paramount, and we do not believe that age verification costs should be passed onto the customer, AgeID is therefore free to consumers of adult content. It is also important for UK sites whose main market is the UK, that they are not forced to close due to the cost of age verification. As a result, we have made AgeID free of charge for all independent UK studios, producers and bloggers.

Once the regulations are finalised, AgeID will be available to every website in order to comply with the law. The fee for non-UK sites will be based on an estimate of UK traffic, from metric sites such as Alexa and Similarweb, ensuring AgeID is affordable and fair for every adult content provider.

The law is expected to be enforced later this year, from when AgeID will be available to every adult website accessible in the UK.

 

 

 

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