"A political not a technical decision". Age Verification Providers on Fed Gov Refusal to Adopt System to Help Protect Kids From Porn

On Thursday August 31st the Australian Government responded to the eSafety Roadmap for Age Verification. In its response the Government called age verification technology "immature". 


The Age Verification Provider's Association has responded to frequently asked questions about age assurance technology. 

Age assurance expert Tony Allen from the Age Check Certification Scheme has produced a detailed paper titled Measurement of Age Assurance Technologies which also refutes these statements made by the Australian Government.  

We went straight to the source to see what age verification providers had to say in response to the Government's claims. 

SafeShare responds

As co-founders of SafeShare — a novel zero-knowledge age-verification startup that aims to protect minors on the web — we have talked with numerous government officials and legal experts within the digitization space across Europe and the U.S. whose beliefs in the need for age verification contradict those seen in the Australian Roadmap publication.

Our solution's technical implementation, which uses advanced zero-knowledge technology, cookies, and 2-factor authentication, directly addresses the publication's three points used to justify labeling the entire age assurance market as immature. As zero-knowledge and encryption technologies continuously develop, it is clear that new startups overcome the challenges faced by current age-verification technology. Thus, we urge the Australian government to allow newer solutions, such as SafeShare, to present to them before fully denouncing the current need for age verification.

Paavnee Chauhan and Baptiste Audenaert (Co-founders of SafeShare)

Envoc responds

In Louisiana, we have provided over 1.5 million remove age verifications that do not compromise privacy. We have legislation, HB 142 sponsored by Laurie Schlagel, which prevents compliance companies from logging browsing history, keeping personal information, and logging behaviors.

My company, Envoc and I are mentioned in this article as other US states are looking to us to provide A-RAV or Anonymous Remote Age Verification. Why Utah may hire a company to check ages of online pornography users - Deseret News

There are two approaches we use for verifying coarse age. Coarse Age is an age range, such as "13 or Older", "16 or Older", "18 or older" etc. The first is the assessment based off a government ID's date of birth, usually accessed directly from the document of record. We only link to the document of record because we do not data-warehouse or keep copies of personal data.

The second is by using strong AI to gauge a selfie through an app. There is no ID needed. Our library establishes liveness, then an age estimation. The technology is reliable, and anonymous.

I have attached a statement that I have provided in challenges to the laws here in the states.

Read Envoc's full statement here

YOTI responds

A lot of people are puzzled by the conclusion drawn by the Australian eSafety Commissioner & the Australian Governmemt. Yoti agrees some age estimation technologies are immature but Yoti facial #ageestimation (FAE) is a mature technology.

In May 2019 the UK BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) regulator approved Yoti FAE as an age check solution for online porn

In Nov 2020 independent certification body Age Check Certification Scheme tested the accuracy of Yoti FAE & certified it. The ACCS has also positively audited the methodology of how Yoti calculates the accuracy of each Yoti FAE model - the results of which we publish regularly on Yoti.com

In Nov 2021 the German regulator KJM - who does not take privacy issues lightly - approved Yoti FAE for 16+ erotic content & in May 2022, then approved its use for 18+ porn content.

Over 100 businesses including MetaOnlyFans & Yubo have been happily using Yoti FAE for over 12, 18 & 36 months respectively.

UK Information Commissioner's Office has looked in detail at Yoti FAE & clarified it does not involve special category data.

UK Ofcom has looked in detail at Yoti FAE & has allowed Only Fans to use it to check the age of viewers of OF adult restricted creator content for over 18 months.

The Attorney General of the State of Utah has clarified in court evidence that they allow businesses to use effective, privacy preserving FAE for checking age.

In the first half of 2022 several UK supermarkets in the UK trialed Yoti FAE. They reported that not a single shopper under 18 was incorrectly estimated to be over the Think 25 age threshold & allowed to buy alcohol.

Sinc early 2022, the UK Gambling Commission has allowed gambling manufacturers to use Yoti FAE.

From Sep 2023, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will start to test FAE models submitted by suppliers. Yoti is confident the NIST results will provide irrefutable evidence that Yoti FAE is sufficiently reliable to be a mature technology.

The market for FAE is maturing but obviously this process will be slower in countries where regulators group FAE in with less proven age estimation methods & say they are (all) experimental - which discourages many businesses from adopting FAE in those countries.

Drawing conclusions from tiny sample sizes is a maths / stats no no. Last week was painful for Yoti as some prospective customers have read that the Australian Government & eSafety Commissioner have decided facial #ageestimation (FAE) is not yet accurate / mature enough to use as an 18+ age checks (such as for #onlineporn) - with particular concern about accuracy by gender, skin tone & ethnicity.

The test results & ‘key findings’ from Australian independent lab - Enex TestLab - seemed to have been influential. Most businesses initially don’t believe us when we clarify ‘Enex’ used a test set of just 5 individuals aged 13 to 17 & a total test set of just 14 individuals (all aged 3 to 21) to test Yoti & Privately SA FAE - page 31, Enex TestLab eSafety Age Verification Product Evaluation Final Report published as Appendix 8 to the eSafety Background Report. This test set ‘compares’ to 32,426 aged 13 to 17 & over 115,000 individuals aged 6 to 70 as an overall test set used by Yoti.

- Robin Tombs (Co founder and CEO YOTI)

FaceTec responds

It's possible that remote 2D Age Estimation will never be accurate or secure enough to be fully trusted, but FaceTec's 3D Age Estimation is more accurate than 2D, and it is, in fact, more accurate than humans at predicting a subject's age from photographs. That accuracy, combined with 3D Liveness Detection, means that the person being Age Estimated is assured to be physically present in front of the camera and not a spoof or deepfake. This combination of accuracy, security, and convenience is why FaceTec is chosen to perform over 500M Age Checks annually.

See also: 

Submission to Inquiry into Age Verification for Online Wagering and Online Pornography

Collective Shout's Media Release here.

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  • Coralie Alison
    published this page in News 2023-09-11 16:24:29 +1000

You can defend their right to childhood

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