Age verification system on the Web… hmm… how effective do you think it is? Do you think that by just making a customer ‘tick a box’ on a website is enough to verify their age?
A recent report tells us that thorough online age verification checks were not being done, making it very easy for children to buy weapons like big knives, alcohol, and other violent video games online.
Recently, when a test was carried out to check how effective the age verification processes on various websites were, the results were staggering.
Here is an example of a supervised test done by the Greenwich Council:
- A 16 year old bought a pre-paid credit card.
- Went online to buy age-restricted goods with it.
- The credit card was registered with the teenager’s REAL date of birth and address.
- Yet, the teenager managed to buy knives, alcohol beverages, and Adult DVDs and games from 12 separate online retailers.
- Only three websites asked the teenager to confirm his age at the time of purchase which the minor obviously got round by lying.
- The other sites would simply make the user accept a declaration stating that the buyer was of the right age to make the purchase of the products. (That’s very convenient, isn’t it?)
BBC reports that an Online Purchasing of Goods and Services (Age Verification) Bill has been proposed by Baroness Massey that calls for “robust” checking systems to be used by any site selling age-restricted goods.
According to this bill, the age-checking systems would have to be used if any one product was being sold out of the 20 listed, like:
- Tobacco products
- Age-restricted video games
- Age-restricted VCDs and DVDs
- Spray paints, etc.
The lack of a strong process just goes to show how dangerously minors are exposed to the Internet these days. It’s high time we go further than just making them tick a box or simply expect to get away with the website’s so-called “disclaimer”. Don’t you think?