EU wants to have online age verification by 2024, possibly with digital ID proof

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The European Commission wants a standardized age verification system in place by 2024. The idea is that this will make it less easy for children to access harmful content. This system may use digital identity documents.

Under certain EU laws, such as the GDPR, sites and services are already required to check the age of children, writes the European Commission. In practice, however, according to the Commission, these systems are often ineffective. For example, users often only have to enter a random date of birth or they have to tick a box.

The Commission therefore wants to work on a European standard for age verification with the Better Internet for Children initiative. This standard should make it clearer to administrators what is expected of them when it comes to age verification systems. The European Commission cites the example of porn websites that can use such a system to ensure that their visitors are adults. Other examples of harmful content are websites about self-injury, eating disorders and ‘risky online challenges’.

This age verification system may use the European digital identity cards previously proposed by the European Commission. The Commission says it is now investigating whether the verification system can use those ID proofs. To this end, the Commission wants to encourage Member States to provide young people under the age of 18 with electronic ID cards, ‘in order to improve effective age verification methods’.

With the Better Internet for Children initiative, the Commission aims to further strengthen children’s media literacy and improve children’s digital rights. Earlier, the European Commission announced that it wants to do more against images of child abuse. The Commission may require services to scan for such images or for grooming messages.

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