Age verification is required for a number of different reasons:

  • Purchasing items over the Internet such as cigarettes or liquor
  • Delivery of items such as cigarettes or liquor
  • Entering into contracts
  • Entrance to bars, casinos, and other places restricted by age
  • Use of web sites:
    • The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) applies to the online collection of personal information from children under 13
    • Sale of merchandise and entering into contracts
    • Adult content

Age verification can be accomplished a number of different ways.  The US Federal Trade Commission lists these suggested methods for COPPA (The FTC states those who follow one of these procedures acting in good faith to a request for parental access are protected from liability under federal and state law for inadvertent disclosures of a child’s information to someone who purports to be a parent):

  • Obtaining a signed form from the parent via postal mail or facsimile;
  • Accepting and verifying a credit card number;
  • Taking calls from parents on a toll-free telephone number staffed by trained personnel;
  • Email accompanied by digital signature;
  • Email accompanied by a PIN or password obtained through one of the verification methods above.

For establishments that check ID scanners are available that check the bar codes to verify the information matches what is on the face of the ID to detect alterations or fakes.

Privacy has become an issue because information collected for the purposes of age verifications are sometimes retained and used for other purposes.  Some of the age verification companies have arrangements to also tailor ads to children and some age verification companies have been accused using scare tactics about age verification for the purpose of collecting marketing information.  See COPPA 2.0: The New Battle over Privacy, Age Verification, Online Safety & Free Speech.