5Rights asked colleagues, partners and stakeholders working within the field of children’s protection and digital rights to sign the below letter in support of our Chair, Baroness Beeban Kidron’s Private Members’ Bill on Age Assurance, which had its second reading in the House of Lords this morning, 19 November 2021.
Letter on Age Assurance (Minimum Standards) Bill
We have a duty to families, children, and young people to ensure they are set up to thrive in the digital world. As it stands, we are failing this duty. The digital world is working against us, with children on the receiving end of harmful content, commercial surveillance and online abuse.
The UK government has made progress to protect children through regulation such as the Age-Appropriate Design Code, which mandates platforms to ensure children’s privacy online, and the upcoming Online Safety Bill. But big gaps remain. Children can still access and be targeted by content and activity designed for adults.
Almost half (42%) of children aged 5-12 are on social media sites, despite most having a minimum age requirement of 13, and over 80% of pornography sites do not have age checks. This is what tech self-regulation age assurance looks like.
Minimum standards for checking the age and ensuring the privacy of the user are urgently needed. The Age Assurance (Minimum Standards) Bill is a unique and immediate opportunity to make effective and privacy-preserving age assurance a reality.