Age Verification vs. Age Gating: How AI Aids Online Minor Safety

Age Verification vs. Age Gating

An age gate is a pop-up window, checkbox, or sign-up form that asks website visitors whether they’re old enough to access the site’s content or use the provided services. Age gating is programmed to prohibit minors from misusing age-restricted products and services.

However, this approach can be easily bypassed by using a fake qualifying date of birth, enabling minors to access restricted content on alcohol, vapes, and online gambling. This makes it crucial to have a comprehensive age verification system that includes AI-powered ID verification, which provides a more secure and foolproof standard of verification as opposed to age-gating. But how does it do that? Let’s explore how AI-powered ID verification is transforming age-gated content.

What is Age-Gated Content?

Most commonly, there are two different types of age-gated content: “soft” age gating, which involves a simple age affirmation without verification, and “hard” age gating, which requires users to provide age-related information or undergo a verification process.

Different types of age-gated content include:

  • Alcohol
  • Cannabis
  • Tobacco products, e-cigarettes and vaping
  • Gambling
  • Age-rated video gaming
  • Streaming platforms
  • Social media
  • Pornography
  • Firearms

For instance, if a retailer sells alcoholic beverages, they might use a pop-up that asks website visitors if they’re above 21 using “yes” and “no” options. Users will be directed to a message explaining they aren’t old enough if they select “no.”

Similarly, other retailers might ask for parental consent and age verification data, especially on social media or gaming sites with sensitive content. This ensures minors cannot access inappropriate or potentially harmful products or services.

Aside from protecting minors online, age gates help e-commerce providers build trust with their users by restricting their products from view of minors and showing their commitment to minor safety and state law.

Benefits of an Age Gate

Verifying user ages without violating their privacy isn’t easy. However, age gates make the verification process simple by enabling companies to place their content behind inexpensive pop-ups and checkboxes that help protect minors from exposure to age-restricted content or services.

Plus, age checks enable businesses to collect valuable demographic data about their users. This helps them tailor their content to better meet the needs of their target age groups.

However, if a business sells services that are behind a paywall, they’re most likely subject to Know Your Customer (KYC) or Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations, which means they may require more robust age verification solutions.

Common Disadvantages of Age Gates

While age gates help protect minors from accessing age-restricted content, they also aren’t as effective as they should be. They can easily be worked around when minors lie about their ages or use fake accounts and details to gain access to this content.

This means age gates are not sufficient for sensitive content such as pornography, crypto, credit repair, cannabis sales, or rated-R content, because age gates only require the user to confirm their age without verification.

Similarly, age gates do not comply with regulations like the Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement Act — which requires sellers to verify the date of birth, name, and address provided by the customer against database records of people above 21 for every sale — because they can be circumvented.

Unfortunately, this verification process can be intrusive and time-consuming, causing even age-appropriate users to bounce away from websites because of poor user experience. This can lead to lower website engagement and revenue losses.

This is where age verification comes in.

What is Age Verification?

Age verification is a process that confirms a user meets a specific minimum age requirement through ID verification or cross-referencing details using third-party data before giving them access to age-restricted content, products or services.

It gives companies a safe and secure channel for providing online activity access to age-appropriate users while meeting regulations.

But while the age verification process is more secure than age gating, its accuracy depends on the method used to verify user data. For instance, some solutions use only cross-referencing data — which can be modified — to confirm user identities.

However, other age verification solutions like Jumio may check the ID, match it to the user’s selfie, and cross-reference third-party databases to verify a user’s age and prevent minors from accessing potentially harmful or inappropriate goods, services, or adult content.

What Is An Example of Age Verification?

In the realm of online platforms, age verification serves as a vital tool to control access to age-restricted content, safeguarding appropriate audiences from engaging with material not suitable for their age group. For instance, a common illustration of age verification involves websites prompting users to input their date of birth prior to entering sections with age-sensitive content like alcoholic beverages or adult-themed material. This precautionary step plays a pivotal role in upholding legal guidelines and maintaining the integrity of content consumption.

Online Age Verification with Jumio

Jumio provides an AI-powered, real-time age verification solution that uses machine learning, biometrics and document verification technologies to verify the age of users creating an account, making an online purchase, or accessing sensitive content.

Here’s how the process works:

  • A user takes a photo of their ID, and Jumio’s technology extracts its data and validates the ID’s authenticity using their AI-based verification process.
  • A user takes a live selfie, which the software compares to their ID photo to make sure they’re the same person. It can also perform age estimation to ensure the person in the selfie is approximately the same age as specified on the ID. This is especially useful in preventing minors from using an older sibling’s ID, for example.

Aside from preventing minors from accessing inappropriate content, Jumio can also detect and prevent fraudsters from signing in to a legitimate user’s account, reducing the risk of account takeovers.

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Protecting Minors Online

How Identity Verification Makes Age Gates Stronger

AI-powered age verification tools such as Jumio use biometrics and machine learning technologies to detect fraudulent IDs and protect people from consuming digital content not appropriate for their age. This helps ensure that only verified users get access to age-restricted content, products or services.

For instance, online identity verification requires users to submit a selfie with their ID, which is then compared to ensure a service is being provided to people above the legal age. This makes the age verification process stronger than traditional age gates.

Plus, data provided by the user during the verification process is also compared with their ID information, increasing the accuracy of the process and limiting underage transactions.

Moreover, artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms can learn from every interaction, which can help improve accuracy and better detect false IDs, spoofs and cyber attackers over time.

How Does Age Verification Technology Work?

Age verification technology functions by prompting users to provide their birthdate or age-related details when attempting to access age-restricted content. This information is cross-referenced with databases and, in some cases, validated using official documents to determine the user’s age. If eligibility is confirmed, access is granted, while privacy and security measures ensure data protection throughout the process.

Benefits of Using Age Verification vs. Age Gates

While age gates could be an effective deterrent in a perfect world, they can be easily worked around when minors lie about their ages or use fake IDs.

They also do not verify or cross-check a user’s age and rely on self-reporting. This has been shown to be ineffective, with a report giving 17-year-olds a 29% chance of passing as 21 or older.

Age verification, in contrast, is very difficult to fool because it cross-checks your information through various means.

For instance, AI-powered age verification processes verify a user’s age in real-time using biometrics and data comparison. They use sophisticated algorithms to detect anomalies on IDs that can’t be spotted by the human eye. This can help them quickly identify people using altered or synthetic IDs and limit underage visitors’ access to non-consenting transactions.

Moreover, age verification solutions like Jumio require users to submit a selfie during the process. This helps companies make sure they’re selling to people above the restricted age and comply with global age verification laws like the GDPR, NVP, COPPA and FFDCA.

Automate Age Verification with Jumio

The days of age gate verification are quickly coming to an end, with minors being able to easily work around them using falsified dates of birth and names. That’s where AI-powered identity verification comes in.

Online age verification solutions like Jumio are backed by machine learning algorithms and AI, which enables them to cross-check user IDs using multiple third-party sources and recognize the differences between fake and real IDs, making them highly accurate and almost foolproof.

Plus, these solutions validate user identities in real time, enabling businesses to provide a better user experience, reduce the risk of fraud, and stay compliant with verification laws.

To learn more about how Jumio can help you comply with age restriction laws and protect your business while converting more legitimate customers, contact us today.

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