The role of age verification technology in tackling child sexual exploitation and abuse online

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WeProtect Global Alliance, Yoti – Briefing

November 23, 2022

This intelligence briefing explores the role that age assurance can play in safeguarding children, the current regulatory landscape around age and different methods of age assurance. 

Just as we protect children offline – they can’t freely walk into a nightclub or buy a bottle of wine – the same protections need to be implemented online. Whilst there are many positive opportunities available online; with increasing numbers of children accessing explicit content, chatting to strangers or being coerced into sharing images of themselves, action is desperately needed to safeguard children from the ever-growing dangers online.

One approach to tackle this is to flip the narrative and consider which sites are likely to be accessed by children and require sites to be designed from the ground up to be suitable for people using them. Age assurance is one of the tools that can be used to create digital products safe by design. 

Key terminology

  • Age assurance is the umbrella term for all types of age checking.  
  • Age verification is typically referred to as methods linked to ‘hard identifiers’ such as the presentation of an ID document, or in some instances checks to databases, or ownership of a credit card.  
  • Age estimation is typically referring to methods, where no document is presented. 


According to this briefing, regulators of age assurance should encourage:

  1. International Standards – adhering to them and mentioning them directly within the regulation.
  2. Education materials – following the UNICEF Policy Guidance on AI for Children.
  3. Experiential feedback from young people – as to their experience of safety tools.
  4. Transparency – publishing transparent, clear details about how solutions are built, using mechanisms such as white papers.
  5. Independent accuracy reviews and implementation reviews by a third party, trusted and accredited auditors like the Age Check Certification Scheme (ACCS).
  6. Independent bias review of algorithms by recognised experts or auditors.
  7. Interoperability – fostering collaboration in terms of interoperability e.g. EU Consent Project.
  8. Dialogue with trade bodies – such as the Age Verification Providers Association (AVPA), Open Identity Exchange (OIX), Online Safety Tech Industry Association (OSTIA), each with clear codes of conduct.