Trust and safety becomes statewide legislation

December 3, 2018

Online age verification is now required by law across California for certain online purchases


digital-id-verification-age We’ve entered an era where anyone can access anything online, from sunup to sundown (and all of the hours in between). In fact, one study showed that 45% of minors who tried to purchase alcohol online successfully received it. In order to help manage what can often become precarious situations, a California state law will soon require secure digital age verification for certain online purchases.

The online purchase that prompted a law to require age verification

In an incident that occurred in early 2018, a California teen found a way to purchase a BB gun, throwing knives and a hunting knife online from Amazon, according to this article from His father, Alan Ercolini questioned how his son was able to obtain these items when the sale of BB guns to children in California is illegal. The event raised the issue of law enforcement and safety, since there are certainly ways that kids can get around the prohibition selling certain items to minors without proper online age and identity verification tools.

While Amazon does flag certain products that can’t be sold in certain states, an investigation by KCRA found no request for age verification when attempting to purchase the same BB gun as Ercolini. In fact, the incident prompted further investigation, and, in turn, California governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law a statewide bill that requires internet retailers to verify the ages of their customers for certain items. Spray paint, weapons, cannabis products, pornography and some other items that have been previously available online, but secure online identity verification has not been part of the check-out process.

What the Parent's Accountability and Child Protection Act, AB2511, states

AB 2511 would require online sellers to make a “reasonable” effort to verify ages when customers purchase items that children are prohibited from buying in person. The new law would take effect in January, giving marketplaces time to put the right digital identity verification tools in place. (Read more about AB 2511 here.) Lawmakers have more to iron out, however, and though how the law is implemented will depend on the product and retailer, marketplaces are sure to look for solutions that will help them best build trust and safety within their buying and selling communities.

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