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AVPA responds to UK Home Office consultation on digital age verification

April 4, 2024

The AVPA has submitted its response to the UK Home Office consultation on the use of digital methods of age assurance for the purposes of the sale of alcohol.

The UK leads the world in digital age assurance technology. A change to the law to permit certified forms of digital proof of age and effective age estimation to be used for the sale of alcohol would give us the opportunity to showcase British solutions which can then be swiftly exported around the world. It would also be welcomed by a smartphone generation, who often no longer carry wallets or purses when they go out, using their phones for payment, to display tickets and to prove their age for purchasing many other age-restricted goods apart from alcohol.

But there is a very limited window of opportunity. Delaying a change to the law here which creates a level playing field for heathy competition in this country will inevitably give the competitive advantage to very large global platforms, all established outside the UK, which are already seeking to set alternative de facto standards that favour their own dominance in the market.

We have over the past two years managed a process, in partnership with the Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS), to create a mechanism to enable universal acceptance of digital proofs of age (dPASS) from any approved issuer in any participating location. While it builds on the global mobile Driving Licence (mDL) standard 18013-5, it offers a more practical and privacy-preserving mechanism that will enable rapid adoption using existing equipment already available in the vast majority of licensed premises – QR code readers. Smartphone based readers can also be used anywhere. A public key directory, open to all certified issuers, will facilitate this interoperability, and drive the rapid adoption of reusable digital identities.
When this is complemented with the use of highly effective facial age estimation for customers who are a few years over the age of 18, these technologies will dramatically increase compliance levels and can reduce the level of conflict with staff, with aggressive behaviour and even assaults often precipitated by manual age checks.

Read our response in full:

AVPA response to the Home Office consultation for website
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