Age Verification Software for Adult Websites
Operating a safe and secure website is one of the most important functions for any adult webmaster and business and a requirement of adult merchant account providers, but the importance of age verification has become especially important in Europe with the German Government and the Parliament in the London passing legislation requiring better protection of youth’s ability to access adult websites. It has never been more important for merchants today to understand and find the best program to handle their age verification services to insure complete compliance with adult payment processor and new legal regulations.
The first government to begin enacting laws protecting underage internet users from adult material was Germany in 2002 with the passage of Jugendschutzgesetz (Youth Protection Act). This legislation focused on the content providers to insure that they did not deliberately or maliciously provide or make available adult content and products to underage individuals. With stiff penalties including large monetary fines and the possibility of prison, it made online providers check and self regulate themselves to insure that they were not violating the law and eliminated any potential of liability once the act went into effect in 2003.
In the UK, the passage of the Digital Economy Act has taken the Youth Protection Act in German to another level, making it necessary for adult businesses, including online content websites, to insure that every visitor in the UK is verified as being over the age of 18 or risk fines upwards of £250,000 per violation. Though the deadline for the start of the UK law has been pushed back, adult companies are still scrambling to find age verification solutions that offer the functionality required by the new government regulations while providing users the highest level of protection and security of sensitive personal information. Finding this solution has become a challenge that has plagued many adult companies with users in the United Kingdom over the last couple years, opening the door for a new age verification industry.
One of the largest internet based adult content companies, Mind Geek, has come out and supported the UK Government’s new age verification legislation guidelines and set out to provide a solution by creating their own program called AgeID. This new age verification software program will require the name, address, telephone number and date of birth to be provided by users for verification by an outside 3rd party company, ultimately creating verified profiles that will allow users to access their content across all their websites within the Mind Geek network.
Smaller adult companies, including websites with a limited user base or a small UK presence, have been forced to figure out an economical solution to insure their compliance in the coming year. While use of the AgeID across other platforms could be a possible solution for smaller companies, many have raised concerns about having one company becoming the dominant adult age verification software provider, especially a company that is also a competitor in the same industry, concerns that have lead many companies to look elsewhere for solutions.
Best Age Verification Software Programs
There are many different age verification programs available to webmasters, depending on how in depth of a verification process a business wants to put their customers through prior to accessing their website. Some verification programs simply ask users to fill out a popup with their birthday to gain entrance, while other programs will take additional customer information and perform a detailed background check to verify the users identity.
One of the higher rated products and commonly used on WordPress website offers both a free verification and paid version of their program is AgeVerify. While both the free and paid programs from AgeVerify do not provide verified results, it does provide an affordable solution for throttling access to age sensitive websites. The paid version allows for webmasters to customize the background and information displayed on the popup page, customize the length of time user information is retained to prevent repeat age prompts along with offering geographic specific requirements.
With the changing government landscape, the use of popups is slowly becoming an outdated and inefficient means to verify website users. More and more websites have turned to paid services that check each verification request against public databases to determine the validity of the user’s submission. Companies such as Mitek and AgeChecker.Net have developed software that uses a combination of government issued IDs, public database background checks and even facial recognition to insure that the web users are who they claim to be from the IDs provided.
Unlike AgeVerify, the AgeChecker.Net system takes the information input by the web browsers and uses it to verify with 3rd party identification companies that the details are correct – checking name and date of birth records to confirm the indentities. When an ID can not be verified, whether its due to information not being correct or if there is reason to warrant additional information, users will be asked to provide a mobile photo of a government ID to confirm the data on hand.
A more aggressive alternative to AgeChecker.Net is the Mitek Mobile Verify age verification software that provides businesses with additional different layers of ID verification services, some of the most sophisticated available to merchants today. When a user request is made, customer details are checked against the information stored at various identity service providers and images of IDs are checked and confirmed with proprietary software as to their validity. In cases where additional information is needed to render a decision, facial recognition software is used to verify the web user is the person on the ID, providing multiple levels of ID and document verification without requiring users to leave the comforts of their own home.
Why Some Age Verification Software Programs Don’t Work
More basic age verification programs, specifically programs that do not use any external verification services, can allow users to fraudulently enter age or identification information and gain access to the age sensitive website content that is prohibited to underage users. Depending on the guidelines of the business, the requirements of the payment processor for e commerce websites or even the laws governing that industry in a specific jurisdiction, the extent of the age verification services needed to operate can vary drastically.
In the USA, most businesses are protected today by the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, where an age verification popup allows merchants some legal protection from use by underage individuals by stating their terms and conditions were violated when the user knowing entered false information upon entering their website, a significantly different set of laws when compared to the British government’s new guidelines.
With many choices of age verification software programs available to businesses, it is up to the merchants to decide how they want to verify their users, while some countries have begun requiring extensive age verification programs, others have not opted to place that requirement on businesses. Utilizing a cost effective identity verification program can help businesses build a solid customer base while limiting legal liabilities and other potential fraud stemming from unverified users.