Online Age Verification Gets New U.S. Champion

Age Verification Providers Association

A new U.S. trade group has formed to champion companies that provide age verification services a digital identify market estimated to be a $1 trillion business by 2029 and one used by social media companies, video streamers and others to to keep kids away from mature content.

The Europe-based Age Verification Providers Association (AVPA) said Tuesday (April 19) that it has created a U.S. division to "raise the profile of online age assurance with state and federal lawmakers, regulators and others."

The move comes as legislators and policymakers in Washington have been pushing social media companies and other edge providers to better protect children online, which includes making it harder for them to access content not meant for them.

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That opportunity for age verification companies was not lost on AVPA, which cited a number of relevant laws, old and new, in announcing the new U.S. division.

Those included the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which Congress is looking to update; the bipartisan Kids Online Safety Act, which was introduced earlier this year by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and a California bill meant to protect children's online information.

“Online Age Verification is already a global industry, but most of the legislative pressure has come from Europe," said AVPA co-chair Warren Russell. "This is clearly changing, and we want to share the lessons learnt with our colleagues across the Atlantic, while also ensuring that the international standards we champion as a trade association accurately reflect the needs of the North American market.”

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ATVA has been around since 2018. "The new association will raise the profile of online age assurance with state and federal lawmakers, regulators, leading online platforms and all those who run websites and apps which process children’s data or may include content that is inappropriate for certain younger age groups," AVPA said.

AVPA is already working with technical standards organization IEEE on new online age verification best practices and is a part of an online consent project funded by the European Commission. ■

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.