Lack of Internet age verification could be a problem

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Internet is a great place to easily buy things, which could be a cause for concern for parents; according to a study, electronic cigarettes can also be easily purchased over the Internet by minors.

WCNC in North Carolina reports that in spite of state regulations to ensure minors are unable to purchase the devices over the Internet, most online retailers did not request age verification. The study used non-smoking minors to attempt to make purchases via the Internet and found that of the 98 attempts made to purchase the product, 75 were successful. Additionally, only five of the denials were because of age verification techniques. The study, published on, states that the other 18 failed orders were due to reasons not associated with age verification, but did not elaborate as to why the order attempts failed.

While the study was conducted in another state, there is nothing preventing a Mississippi minor from being able to secure these devices over the Internet either. Our state has laws in place to regulate the sale of these devices through brick and mortar stores, however. Even if legislation is passed to protect them from purchasing the items over the Internet, a greater problem remains.

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This problem is that without age verification any other product intended for adults, such as music and movies, could potentially be secured by a minor via many websites. Additionally, sites that do require age verification, don’t really check. They just require the user to click yes if they are older than 18, or put in a birth date.

This leads to the next question; how do you effectively qualify the age of an Internet user?

Without being able to visually confirm the age of a customer, website administrators could employ the need to enter a driver’s license number. However, children are intelligent. Potentially, all they would need is to secure the driver’s license of an adult without their knowledge long enough to copy the pertinent information for later use.