Age verification marked the start of the final sessions of the day at GDPR summit London today.

New directives will come through GDPR that will put new obligations upon online publishers, forcing audio and visual platforms to put new, stronger mechanisms in place regarding user access.

The crux of all this, of course, is child protection, with the goal being a safer internet domain where adult-rated content is viewed only by adults. Parents will have more control over material that children might be able to access.

But more stringent measures put in place for adults to access adult content, brings a sticking point; many adults would not wish to submit any more identity information than is absolutely necessary to organisations that specialise in pornographic material.

Stephen Winyard, Chief Marketing Officer, AVSecure Ltd said: “It is critical that any information provided to prove a user is over 18 is subsequently deleted.”

As far as content awareness goes, we heard how the big online audio / visual players, such as Facebook, Netflix and Amazon will have to go to far greater lengths concerning labelling, which in turn opens a more complex debate on age suitability in other capacities.

For instance, in the App store, the Facebook app is rated suitable for ages 4 and over. On Android the app is a PG, which advises parental guidance, or throws its hands in the air and relinquishes responsibility, depending on which side of the pond you live on. Meanwhile, Zuckerberg’s monster is only meant to be available for over 13s.

The conundrum proves how a siloed approach to age restriction and suitability falls woefully short. Maybe we could take inspiration from the food industry, comes one suggestion from the panel; colour codes relating to various details to offer a better breakdown of what content actually contains, and how this may impact upon the consumer.

The UK is a world leader in this area, with British measures being used as a basis for draft legislation show to Congress in the US. Much work remains to be done in age verification, but it seems the days of the internet being an “ungovernable wild west”, an unrestricted content free-for-all, are gone.


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