‘But how do they know it is a child?' Age Assurance in the Digital World

The ongoing debate around age assurance is often centred around restricting access to the internet for children and young people. But done properly, age assurance can drive the development of new products and services to create a richer and more diverse digital ecosystem in which children (one in three internet users) are a recognised user group.In our new report, But how do they know it is a child? we examine the common approaches to age assurance, assess their strengths and weaknesses and set out the common standards that must underpin widespread adoption.

Many of the changes necessary to make a service age appropriate do not need additional or new technology, but require common standards on privacy, security and proportionality, backed by a regulatory framework with oversight and accountability.

Rather than viewing it as simply restricting access, we should be looking at age assurance as a chance to invite children into a digital world that offers them greater privacy, freedom from commercial pressures, content and information in formats and language that they like, protection from misinformation or material that promotes harmful activities (such as suicide, self-harm or disordered eating), alongside supporting digital services in their legal duty not to provide children with age restricted contact and content. Real and effective age assurance has the opportunity to help build the internet that young people deserve.

But how do they know it is a child? is our contribution to the ongoing debate on age verification, estimation and assurance. We invite you to read, share and discuss.

Download our report here.