Jumio has released a new report that suggests that age-restricted websites in the UK have have been a bit lax when enforcing those age restrictions. The report found that more than half (54 percent) of the country’s sites had failed to stop minors from gaining access to their age-restricted products and services, despite the fact that two-thirds (67 percent) believed that it was their responsibility to do so.
The report was compiled by Vitreous World, which surveyed 200 tech professionals who work with companies that sell age-restricted products. The firm attributed the enforcement shortcomings to the widespread use of weak authentication systems, with roughly half of the respondents indicating that they relied on largely anonymous forms of age verification and 26 percent using only a self-assessment form. Sites that wanted to implement stronger safeguards frequently turned to document verification (20 percent) and credit checks (10 percent).
Companies that sell physical goods like fireworks and alcohol are more likely to enforce age restrictions than companies that traffic in more intangible content like pornography. Those with weaker protocols were worried that a stronger system would disrupt the customer experience and decrease overall conversation rates.
“The greater the likelihood of social harm, the greater the need for more robust forms of non-anonymous methods of age verification,” said Jumio CEO Robert Prigge. “With many minors at home right now due to pandemic lockdown measures, it is vital that organizations are looking to the most appropriate methods of age verification to truly prevent harm.”
Jumio is the latest company to highlight concerns about the age verification process for sites that sell age restricted content. In 2019, Yoti teamed up with AgeID to create a discreet age verification tool for those viewing pornography, and helped facilitate online sales of alcohol. IDEX has also found support for better age gates on adult websites.