What is age gating?

what is age gating

Last updated on December 6th, 2023 at 01:34 pm

Age gating, also known as age verification or age restriction, is a mechanism used to restrict access to certain content or services based on the user’s age. It is often employed to comply with legal regulations, protect minors from age-inappropriate content, and ensure responsible access to specific products or services. Age gating and age verification laws have been growing in popularity, especially for access to adult content and for creation of social media accounts.

How does age gating work?

Age gating typically works by placing an interstitial page on the homepage of the site. Typically the user clicks that they are over 21, or over 18, and the user is then allowed to enter the website. This is required for sites which sell liquor or cannabis products and gaming sites, but typically a simple click is sufficient to meet the regulations in their industry.

This type of age gate is obviously very easy for minors to bypass as it does not require any proof that they are above the legal age to purchase. However, it is inexpensive to implement and adds almost no friction to the interaction process.

What is a date-of-birth age gate?

Some age gates require that the user enter in their full date of birth.  This is typically due to compliance with the Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement Act — which requires sellers to verify the date of birth, name, and address provided by the customer against database records.

What types of businesses require age gating?

  • Cannabis
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco, vapes, eCigarettes
  • iGaming and online sportsbooks
  • Video gaming (mature)
  • Adult websites and pornography
  • Firearms
  • Crypto & banking
  • Social media

Online age verification

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was passed in 2000 and includes sweeping regulations to protect children online, including suggestions for age verification and collection of parental consent.

For businesses who need to do a deeper level of due diligence on the age of their customers, adding an age verification process. This goes beyond an age gate and actually requires reading the ID to verify the age of the customer. This can be accomplished by accessing the customer’s mobile camera or webcam and then parsing the data on their ID.

Adult websites and pornography companies in many states are now required to perform this higher level of age verification, as an age gate is not considered deep enough due diligence on the customer to effectively protect minors online. We expect that this level of digital due diligence will become more common due to children-friendly legislation is passed.

How online age verification works

Verifying age online is a simple, straightforward process.

  1. The user takes a photo of the front and back of their ID. IDScan.net’s DIVE API then parses the data in the 2D barcode, looking for the date-of-birth of the individual and comparing it to today’s date.
  2. DIVE API performs 2D barcode security checks and front / back crossmatching to check for fake IDs. Although it is impossible to authenticate an identity document remotely, remote ID validation is capable of catching up to 50% of fakes.
  3. (Optional) For businesses that want to confirm identity as well as age, the user is guided through a face match selfie workflow with integrated liveness and anti-spoofing. This insures that the customer’s face matches their ID photo, which prevents them from using the ID of an older individual to get around the age gating process.
  4. (Optional) Third party checks to databases like the DMV, or Social Security Administration can be layered on to confirm issuance of the presented ID.
  5. The API sends a “success” or “failure” signal to the website, which then triggers either ungating access, or continuing to restrict content.

The full process takes <30 seconds and is successful in 97% of cases. Age verification technology can also be integrated with digital IDs, where a token is sent from the digital ID technology to the website to verify age.

Age gating versus age verification

Although many business conflate the two, age gating is very different than age verification. Age gating relies on the user to self-report their age, which can be easily bypassed by simply lying. It is the bare minimum. However, businesses benefit from the minimal friction of age gating, and the flexibility to design age gates and interstitial pages that match their brand.

Age verification actually requires submission of identity information in the form of an ID or biometric. It is much more accurate and secure, but introduces friction into the web browsing or checkout process. It also introduces PII and privacy concerns to ensure any data collected during the age verification process is handled correctly.

To learn more about how IDScan.net can help you comply with age gating laws with a low-friction online age verification process, contact us today.