5 RECOMMENDATIONS: Online Age Checking: The Time Has Come…


A recent symposium entitled ‘Online Age Checking: The Time Has Come’, saw key players from the privacy, identity, legal, payments, child-protection and technical standards sectors come together with representatives from government, online businesses and NGOs to discuss the BSI 1296 Online Age Checking code of practice and how to deliver frictionless, privacy preserving, online age-checking at the point of transaction.

The document below summarizes the 5 Recommendations that arose from the symposium.

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The inaugural Trust Elevate Symposium entitled “Online Age Checking: The Time Has Come…” took place the British Library, London, on September 22, 2015.

Trust Elevate’s Founder, Dr. O’Connell opened the event by outlining the interplay between technical, legal, policy and commercial factors that mean that the time is now to test the scope to deliver online age checks. The UK’s Minister for Internet Safety & Security, Baroness Joanna Shields, outlined the UK Government’s position. Pat Manson, DG CONNECT provided insights from the European Commissions’s perspective. Lord Erroll, chair of the Digital Policy Alliance Age Verification Group outlined the significance of the BSI Age Check Code of Practice. The BSI Age Check code will give recommendations for accepted good practice that will apply both to businesses that are required to conduct age checks and those that are socially responsible and voluntarily choose to enhance e-safeguarding of children who access online services. Watch Video Here

Panel 1: Proof of Concept explored the scope to conduct an online age check Proof of Concept (POC) to test the scope to enable online age checking of minors. Josh Howlett, Head of Trust and Identity, Jisc, Stuart Abrahams, Director, GroupCall and Sandy Porter, co-founder Avoco Secure presented a POC. The aim of a POC is to test the scope to deliver frictionless age checking at the point of transaction that will meet business and legal requirements whilst enabling enhanced e-safeguarding and protection of children and young people’s iRights. Rebecca Newton, Chief Community and Safety Officer, Mind Candy outlined the requirements of a gaming platform designed for children and young people. Malcolm Perkins BBFC described how online age checking use in combination with age ratings would better protect children online. Sue Dawes, Open Identity Exchange outlined how the OIX conducts pilot projects. Watch Video Here

Panel 2: Data Sources, Commercial Models & Markets For Age & Related Attributes was chaired by Sandy Porter, Founder Avoco Identity. Panelists included  proven entrepreneurs such as Chris Pilling of Matchdeck and experts such a Tony Connell, Royal Mail, and Andy Rudd, Business Development Consultant. The panel also included privacy experts, Pat Walshe, Privacy Matters, Edgar Whitley, Associate Professor Information Systems, London School of Economics. Watch Video Here 

Panel 3: Payments was chaired by Dr. Louise Bennet, British Computer Society. Panelists included Peter Seymour, Payments and Government specialist and Steve Pannifer, Head of Consulting, Consult Hyperion. Sarah Munro, Head of Digital Identity, Barclays and Helen Doyle, Director of Research &Customer Policy, Payments UK.  Watch Video Here 

Panel 4: Legal, Policy and e-Safeguarding was chaired by Dr. Victoria Nash, Deputy Director Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University. Panelists included Peter Wanless, CEO NSPCC, Cartsen Maple, Professor of Cyber Systems Engineering,University of Warwick, Abhilash Nair, Lecturer in Internet Law, University of Strathclyde, Pete Johnson, CEO, ATVOD and William Heath, Chairman, Mydex. Watch Video Here 

Panel 5: Business Use Cases – Meeting Industry Needs was chaired by Emma Lindley, Founder Innovate Identity. Panelists included John Marsden, Equifax, Chris Field, Chief Marketing Officer, Yoti, Chris Ratcliff, Managing Director, Portland TV,  and Rob Johnson, Chairman, Verime. Watch Video Here 

Organisations represented at the Symposium included Lego, Royal Mail, FOSI, CGI, Barclays, The Internet Society, NSPCC and many more.

Many thanks to the following companies for their support for this year’s Trust Elevate Symposium: Avoco Secure, MindCandy, VeriMe, Yoti, Equifax and Timpson.


In April 2015, the then Culture Secretary Sajid Javid announced that, if re-elected, the Conservatives would ensure that under-18s were locked out of adult content.

Impending changes in legislation, regulatory oversight and enforcement methods will require businesses to be able to check the age a user asserts online. This is not only an issue for the adult sector but also for a number of other sectors including gambling, e-cigarettes, tobacco, adult, education, online gaming, crowd funding, online dating, payments and e-tail.

These sectors have come together under the Digital Policy Alliance’s Age Verification Group to develop a new British Standards Institution (BSI Group) – Public Accessibility Standard (PAS) entitled Online Age Check.

Technical and policy innovation
There has also been a great deal of technical and policy innovation. A portion of the day will be allocated to showcasing how, via a public-private partnership, a ‘data exchange eco-system’ will enable anonymous, permissioned checking of the age band to which an individual belongs (minor or adult) at the point of transaction. The method that uses already existing information can enable online age-band checking in a privacy enhanced manner thus ensuring the security of personally identifiable information (Pii) at all times. Online age checking will operate on the principles of data minimization; it will be privacy preserving, commercially viable and underpinned by clear liability models.

Why are these developments so significant?
Traditionally it has not been possible for online businesses to crosscheck, against reliable datasets, the data a child or young person (aged below 18 years of age) asserts. This has been a significant impediment to online businesses that, as a result, are unable to check that a young person is the appropriate age to purchase goods online or access age-rated content. It also hampers young people’s ability to transact in a digital economy.

Ultimately in the UK, there is now a multi-track approach to online age-band checking; self-regulation, technical and policy innovation and legislation, which is one of the major reasons for convening this symposium.

For further information on the symposium, please contact: rachel@trustelevate.com