Coming to Terms with Age Assurance

As concerns about online safety proliferate, along with increased regulatory pressure and parental apprehension, one proposed approach for keeping children safer online is the deployment of age assurance tools capable of estimating or verifying the ages of users. 

To make progress, it is important to reflect on the current state of age assurance and the complexities that have gridlocked developing technologies or approaches that can be widely implemented. Ultimately, this means finding a combination of public policy, technologies, and educational efforts to create a safe and effective, but fundamentally privacy-focused set of solutions. 

While there are substantial obstacles, the opportunities and benefits of getting age assurance right are many. In April 2022, FOSI assembled a working group among its member companies, which operated cooperatively over the course of one year to explore different perspectives from across competitive lines on the pressing need to address age assurance as a top safety concern. 

This process benefited greatly from the body of existing work that has been established by many organizations leading the way globally on age assurance. The aim of this paper was to distill this knowledge, along with FOSI’s own research, the important work of our peers, reports developed by government and academic bodies, and takeaways from the working group itself, into a resource that may serve as a reference point for those building strategies to more fully realize the potential of age assurance.

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