Age Verification Front & Center in 2012

It’s been some time since we’ve talked about age verification, but I assure you it’s still a hot topic in the market, especially for social networks and gaming (as in lotteries and sports betting) industries.

Let’s take a look at what is going on.

Social Networks are waiting to see how the rules and regulations for COPPA will play out.  This past September, the FTC proposed amendments to COPPA to help “create a safer, more secure online experience for children” as a response to technological changes in the market, including mobile technologies.  The FTC was soliciting public comment on their proposed changes through November.  So one might conclude that at some point this year the FTC will announce amendments to the COPPA rule that will affect any website or social network dealing with minors.

How does this impact age verification vendors?  Well, that depends on the verification tool you are using.  As for IDology’s age verification solution – the ruling has no direct impact on our solution per se, since we’ve been pitching using age and identity verification to verify parents from way back when MySpace was a synonym for social networking (see our member statement response to the Internet Safety Technical Task Force.)  But it will drive more interest from Internet properties who want to find a way to obtain verifiable parental consent.

The other hot area related to age verification is the gaming industry.  In late December, the US Department of Justice released a new opinion on the Wire Act clarifying that the law refers to only prohibiting online gambling on sporting events or contests, and not the ability to sell online lottery tickets to adults.  This ruling also opens the doors for intrastate poker to become a reality in the United States because the new opinion is that Wire Act only focuses on sports betting, not poker or casino games.  The new ruling also helps to further support the District of Columbia’s efforts to offer online poker to its residents, which has been delayed since September.  (See more information on this gaming topic)

Clearly age verification plays a big part in what is happening in these industries.   Although really the underlying issue is more about identity because you have to know who someone is before you can verify their age.  This is why I often use the words “identity and age verification” together.  While you can have identity verification without an age component, you cannot have an age component without identity.  Think about it. How often do we hear people incorporating age as a part of describing someone’s identity?  Just a quick glance at any news article, biography, or obituary will prove my point….


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