Online age verification being trialled for alcohol sales could be extended to gambling and video games – The Guardian

December 18, 2021 by No Comments

Online age verification for alcohol purchases is being trialled in Australia, new documents reveal, as the federal government considers whether similar technology could be applied to gambling and adult sites.

The Morrison government has tasked the eSafety commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, with developing a “roadmap” for an age verification system for adult content by the end of 2022, but documents released under freedom of information laws reveal options are already being trialled.

Draft talking points and a slide deck from early August released on the transparency website Right to Know this week, show the Digital Transformation Agency has been preparing for age verification and digital ID trials from September this year.

According to the talking points, the trial was to be conducted with online retailers in Australia, using external ID providers Australia Post and Mastercard.

The beta trials had been expected to run for between three and six months, with 100 users per use case, starting first with online alcohol purchases in September, and then gambling websites at a date to be determined.

When asked about these trials, the Digital Transformation Agency insisted it was “not actively participating in these trials” which they said were being run by private businesses.

“DTA’s work with the private sector on the topic of online age verification has focused on discussions and discovery activities with organisations engaged in the Trusted Digital Identity Framework (TDIF) accreditation process,” a spokesperson said.

The DTA did not answer questions on which businesses were involved or how many customers had been recruited.

The documents reveal the government is planning to use the trials to inform online age verification policy, and track the impact on revenue, as well as customer adoption and experience.

“Report transaction volumes, technical integration effort and ‘successful’ vs ‘unsuccessful’ authentication ratios to inform Digital Identity charging framework and system oversight,” the notes say.

The report recognises the trial is limited to these two areas, and does not explore age verification for online pornography or social media, but says the trials could be expanded in 2022 to cover lootboxes in video games, as well as using the government’s mygovid as a form of age verification.

The points recommend the DTA determine whether digital identity legislation would cover age verification, and prepare an “education campaign”, focusing on privacy and security, the accuracy and effectiveness, and the impact on businesses and users.

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