Simpleweb’s first investment, W2 Global Data, has recently been working with the Digital Policy Alliance to find new ways to manage age verification on digital content.
On May 18th this year, the Queen announced that all all sites containing pornographic material will be hidden behind age verification blocks. In light of this, Digital Policy Alliance members including age verification platforms, payment processors and distributors of pornographic material are working together to consider age verification programmes that can protect both minors and of-age consumers.
The Digital Policy Alliance (DPA) is a politically neutral, not-for-profit membership organisation that alerts policy makers about issues relating to online and digital technologies. The DPA launched its age verification campaign in April 2015 to develop standards for an online age verification process
The issue with pornographic material says Warren Russell, Founder of W2 Global Data is that anyone can “just Google what they want and it’s there. You don’t need to have an account, you don’t need to put in your details, it’s really anonymous, nobody knows who you are. Obviously that means there’s nothing stopping my 9 year old son doing it and that’s the risk as far as the government are concerned.”
While there are methods of verifying age online, there’s nothing that comes with complete anonymity and, as Warren puts it “everybody’s scared of the next Ashley Madison.”
Warren points out that while some people will happily enter their personal details for a credit bureau check, and some will happily use Facebook to verify their identity, many will be too concerned about that information accidentally getting into the wrong hands.
“It’s about finding the middle ground where the government and industry feels it’s protected enough and the consumer feels they’re anonymous enough” says Warren.
While preventing minors accessing porn is just the beginning, the DPA sees their work with on online age verification reaching far and wide, stopping everything from e-cigarettes to knives to glue getting into the wrong hands.
W2 are currently working on an innovative new age verification system that can protect consumers and minors online. Watch this space for updates!