RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Around the world, governments have begun looking for ways to collect identification data from social media users, often under the guise of providing a safe online space for children.
In about a month, Australian users will be asked to provide age verification documents such as a driver’s license, passport, or credit card to access age-restricted content on the Play Store and YouTube.
Read also: Check out our coverage on curated alternative narratives
The move is in line with the “2022 Online Safety Declaration,” which requires platforms to verify users’ ages before allowing them to access age-restricted content.
The announcement was made in a blog post by Samantha Yorke, Google’s head of government affairs and public policy, who explained that the change aims to provide users with “age-appropriate experiences.”
“As part of this process, some Australian users may be asked to provide additional proof of age when viewing mature content on YouTube or downloading content on Google Play,” the blog post reads.
“If our systems cannot determine that a viewer is over 18, we will ask them to provide a valid ID or credit card to verify their age.”
The company said that downloads of age verification documents would be “securely stored, not made publicly available, and deleted” once verification is complete.
However, the company will use the uploaded documents to “improve our verification services for Google products and protect against fraud and abuse.”
People attempting to view age-restricted content on third-party sites will be directed to YouTube for age verification.
“This ensures that no matter where a video is discovered, it can only be viewed by the appropriate audience,” Yorke wrote.
The European Union has already implemented the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, which has similar age verification requirements to Australia’s 2022 Online Safety Declaration.
Meta is also working on parental supervision tools on Instagram and Quest. The company wants guardians and parents to be “more involved in their teen’s experience.”
The parental supervision tool on Instagram, which allows parents to control their time on the app, has already been deployed in the United States.
The supervision tool also notifies parents when their child reports someone, allowing them to see who their children have followed and who has followed them in return.