10 May 2009

UK - Sites fail age verification check

A private members bill going through the House of Lords is calling for it to be mandatory for web retailers to adopt age verification systems. The bill on age-checking has the backing of charities who say it is too easy for children to buy alcohol, knives and violent video games online. A check on twelve sites found that thorough checks were not being done. The Online Purchasing of Goods and Services (Age Verification) Bill has been proposed by Baroness Massey and calls for "robust" checking systems to be used by any site selling age-restricted goods. The age-checking systems would have to be used if one of 20 separate products were sold including knives, alcohol, tobacco, age-restricted video games and DVDs, solvents and spray paints. Trading standards officers from Greenwich Council carried out tests on a number of websites to check their age verification processes. In a supervised test, a 16-year-old bought pre-paid credit cards and then went online to see if he could buy age-restricted goods with it. The credit card was registered with the minor's real date of birth and address. The teenager managed to buy knives, drink, and 18-rated DVDs and games from 12 separate online retailers.