Responding to the revolt of target audiences against on-line advertising linked to data mining

Recent surveys indicate that the “Millennial” generation is losing faith in the security of on-line players in the face of the growing flood of data breach stories. Those who stick their heads in the cloud of collective wisdom lack credibility compared to those who respond positively to the concerns of their users. The Amazon ban on Flash Adverts, because so many users are now blocking them because of security and response time concerns ,indicates how major players are responding to changes in customer behaviour. This also helps explain interest of major US players, from Disney to Playboy in the UK idea of using one-way data minimisation services as the basis of anonymised but robust age verification – to serve those who see no need to give their personal details to some-one they neither know nor trust, in order to visit an age-controlled website. I blogged on the business case back in April and was delighted when the Prime Minister not only made mandatory age verification, in the case of access to pornographic websites, one of his election pledges but repeated his commitment after the election.

That is only one of the use cases, but it gives a cutting edge to the approach now being explored by the DPA Age Verification group (e-mail DPA to join) in a BSI PAS. This has growing support from large internet advertisers: from childrens’ games, entertainment and education providers, through on-line gaming and adult entertainment, to those giving discounts to old age pensioners.  The concept is simple: why should a girl who wishes entry to a night club have to carry a passport, potentially giving her name and address to the bouncers, when she need only carry a photopass with a QR code (such as provided by Yoti) which they can scan and their app will show she is over or under whatever the age is for admission. Feedback from mainstream credit reference agencies and financial services identity providers in providing necessary support infrastructure indicates that the concept can be applied cheaply and reliably on-line. Given that their business models already depend on combining, low cost, rapid, secure response (often while transactions are in progress) with higher levels of security than are achieved by almost any government agency, the consequences are profound.

Hence the growing interest in an event on 22nd September where the idea will be publicly explored. The presence of Mind Candy (alias Moshi Monsters) and Equifax among the lead sponsors indicates the range of serious commercial interest. The range of speakers indicates how the issues go to the heart of not only child safety but of national and international on-line identity strategies. They speakers include Baroness Joanna Shield, (once the Tech City Champion, now the responsible minister), Peter Wanless, (now CEO of the NSPCC) and Peter Johnson, (CEO of the on-line content regulator ATVOD). But they also include Don Thibeau, founder and prime mover of OIX, which lies at the heart of the Cabinet Office ID strategy, Pat Walshe (on the Kantara initiative) and Robin Wilton (ISOC global outreach Director for Identity and Privacy).

The event will be structured as a series of discussions which are expected to not only provide feedback into UK and EU political and regulatory policy but also into the commercial policies of some of the world’s largest on-line advertisers: from drinks, gaming and entertainment to on-line retailing (anyone whose product lines include age-controlled products) as whole. I suspect this may prove to be one of those seminal events that has a global impact. Book now or else for-ever hold your peace.