Everyone agrees that underage individuals should not have access to adults-only web platforms, but how can this be enforced? New insights explore how some age verification policies can be flawed and ineffective.

A new column from Mashable discusses age verification and online content. It highlights that across the USA, state legislators are introducing laws to require age verification for sites containing adult content and/or social media platforms.

The first flaw of these policies is that adult websites based in other countries won’t comply with these rules, meaning that underage users could be forced into accessing increasingly dangerous foreign platforms.

Another issue is that virtual privacy networks (VPNs) may offer a route around age verification, providing a way for underage users to access adult sites with limited difficulty.

Mashable also highlights that with different states having different verification requirements, platforms may begin requesting ID authentication from every user.

This poses issues of privacy protection, free speech, and the widening of the ‘digital divide’ where underprivileged individuals can’t access the internet.

The risk of fraud and identity theft is another challenge. Fraudulent adult sites may ask users to verify using ID documents, and then sell this information to criminals.

Ultimately there is an honourable motivation behind age verification policies, but their introduction could bring about more difficulties than expected. Platforms looking to introduce age verification should keep these flaws in mind.