Skip to content

The Coming-of-Age of Technology:

Using Emerging Tech for Online Age Verifications


Carl Van der Maelen


This article aims to introduce readers to the underexplored topic of online age verification (AV) procedures. These technical measures to bar minors’ online access to age-restricted goods, content and services have returned to the limelight due to recent high-profile controversies and legislative evolutions. Two main arguments will be made. First, that current AV measures are not sufficiently accurate and efficient to effectively achieve their goal. Second, that innovative proposals to conduct age checks exist now that a market for AV mechanisms based on emerging technology is developing, but that caution must be exercised when considering them because of their possible impact on personal data protection principles and rights. In particular, profiling, the use of attributes, and voice recognition will be analysed as possible breakthroughs to achieve better age checks. Ultimately, this article will conclude that there is cause for optimism and that continued experimentation with emerging technologies to carry out AV procedures should be stimulated.

Carl Vander Maelen is a PhD Candidate at the Department of Law and Technology at Ghent University (Ghent, Belgium). This article is adapted from a presentation prepared for the Amsterdam Privacy Conference (September 2018). For correspondence: <>


Lx-Number Search

(e.g. A | 000123 | 01)

Export Citation