The Digital Policy Alliance (DPA) has called upon Internet service providers (ISPs) to take online age verification systems more seriously.
The group, which alerts the EU and UK Parliamentarians and policy makes to the potential impacts, implications and unintended consequences of digital technologies and policies, believes more robust age verification processes are essential to ensure the safety of children online.
DPA’s push for improvements in age verification follows the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’s (NSPCC) Childline campaign which highlighted how many children are being exposed to porn online.
“The NSPCC Childline campaign should serve as a wake-up call to those who are serious about ensuring parents can allow their children to explore the Internet in safety, with confidence that they can be protected by effective age verification processes,” claimed Independent Crossbench Peer Lord Erroll, who is the DPA chair.
“Education is, of course, most of the answer, but ISPs also need to take age verification much more seriously. Most of the industries subject to penalties if they do not check the ages of their customers have come together to try to do just that.
“The working group already brings together representatives of the online gambling, adult entertainment, tobacco, online dating and vaping (e-cigarettes) industries and aims to engage with the alcohol industry and educational network operators, as well as with those concerned with child protection, silver surfers, social inclusion and, of course, crime prevention,” he added.
It believes the UK is on the cusp of defining standards to underpin the roll-out of scalable, viable, cost-effective age verification solutions.
The DPA claims the next step is to turn these into internationally-recognised interoperable standards which are supported by certification programmes.
It says social networking platforms, data aggregators and advertisers all need to re-visit their approaches to age verification to comply with child protection legislation and facilitate the confident use of online services by all age groups.
The organisation has said that online gambling services, adult entertainment providers, those who sell age restricted products and those running educational services are already working together to find ways to move forward on this issue.