UK children's charities want to ensure that children do not have access to those online goods which are aimed at adults. To that effect, a private members bill going through the House of Lords will oblige web retailers to have such a system in place.
Charities have fully endorsed this bill following concerns about children purchasing alcohol, knives and violent video games online.
Trading standards officers from a London Council performed tests on a sample of websites in order to establish whether there were age verification checks being made. In a controlled test, a 16-year old managed to purchase pre-paid credit cards which were registered under his true date of birth and address. This adolescent successfully bought knives, drink and adult-rated DVDs as well as games from 12 different online retailers.
Only three of the retailers asked the 16-year old to confirm his age, and when he "lied" was not challenged or asked for proof.
Zoe Hilton, policy advisor for the NSPCC, speaking on behalf of the Children's Charities Coalition on Internet Safety, stated, "..Retailers' increasingly successful efforts to control the sale of age-restricted products over the counter on the High Street are being seriously undermined by their failure to take similarly effective steps to limit sales of exactly the same items on the Internet".