"On-line Age Checking - the time has come": why it matters to YOUR business

When the Prime Minister David Cameron reiterated his pre-election pledge to “curb access to pornographic web sites by under 18s” there was a widespread assumption that this only mattered to those providing access to such websites. I recently tried to explain why the approaches that would be used have the potential to transform the business models for  advertising funded services. It is not just that almost every on-line retailer and content provider is potentially liable if they facilitate product (e.g knives, alcohol or tobacco) or content supply to those who are under age.

There are a growing number of businesses who need to check that customers are within a given age range (e.g. over five and under thirteen, over 60 or 65, etc.) but face a backlash (e.g. 2/3rd or more of transactions abandoned) if they ask questions which are seen as intrusive by those who no longer trust those they have never meet. It does not matter that some of the latter make irrational decisions, downloading apps which monitor their every move, while getting upset at the thought that their phone number and address might be in the hands of a stranger when all they wanted was to “prove” they were old enough to enter a night club.   

Next week you have the opportunity to hear from those more expert than me as to why the tone of debate and the business models being considered by major on-line advertisers and retailers have changed over the past few months – and the implications. A world class line-up of speakers and panelists has been assembled for the seminar on On-line Checking next Tuesday (22nd September).

The format is unusual in that those from all sides, including politicians, on-line service operators and product and service suppliers have been juxtaposed in panels to discuss the issues, implications, business case and practical implementation.

The event opens with scene setting presentations from the UK Minister Baroness Shields of Tech City fame) and the relevant Head of Unit from DG Connect in Brussels. The panelists for the “proof of concept” discussion range from Mind Candy and JISC (hub for the UK educational networks) to OIX (the hub for HMG identity policy) and ISOC (where the issues are discussed globally). When it comes to the panels on data sources, business cases, links to payment and safeguarding, the participants include  the Post Office, Barclays, Payments UK (the trade association for payment service providers), NSPCC, ATVOD (the content regulator), Equifax, Yoti (one of simplest and most disruptive of ID business models), Portland TV, Telecom2 and the Better Regulation Delivery Office.

There is not much time left event and the event is remarkably inexpensive (to enable social enterprises and cash strapped Fintech start ups to attend). I therefore recommend booking immediately. If you fail to do so you risk getting caught out when your complex and expensive  Identity and Access management “solution” is rendered obsolete before you have got it working. Cheap, robust, anonymised age checking services are not just a way of placating politicians and parents. They “threaten” to transform the on-line world.