July 24, 2009, 12:00 AM

UK e-retail trade group tackles the question of online age verification

The online retail industry needs a way to verify the age-associated eligibility of online customers to buy certain products, to protect both minors and retailers, the Interactive Media in Retail Group says.

Don Davis

Editor in Chief

The Interactive Media in Retail Group, a UK trade association of online retailers, is undertaking an initiative to develop a way of verifying a consumer’s age online.

“Online shopping is an international marketplace in which traditional forms of age verification do not work,” the group says. “A new age verification solution is required that is inclusive, widely available, easy and quick to use, cost efficient, provides a high degree of surety without blocking legitimate customers, and is capable of operating across national borders.”

The aims of the IMRG and its new Age Verification Online working group are to:

  • Collectively address age verification as a non-competitive issue,
  • Coordinate collaboration among relevant parties to formulate a universal age verification standard and a cost-effective solution,
  • Provide guidance on compliance with online age verification requirements for minors.

The group notes that some payment processors already possess age information but they have not shared it with retailers. It also notes that some commercially available databases are not comprehensive when it comes to age.

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