FTC blocks plans for the ESRB’s age checking facial recognition tech

by Danny Craig  · 
FTC blocks plans for the ESRB’s age checking facial recognition tech
Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB)

The Federal Trade Commission has blocked plans for a new technology that could analyze a user's face to determine their age, preventing minors from accessing certain games and features.

The details:

  • In July 2023, the UK-based Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) announced plans for "Privacy-Protective Facial Age Estimation," a collaboration with digital identity firm Yoti and former Epic Games-owned marketing company SuperAwesome. The technology would require users to upload a new selfie of themselves to Yoti's backend server, which would then be scanned to determine their age.

  • It was stated that the data used to verify ages would be "immediately, permanently deleted, and not used by Yoti for training purposes," and that it would simply add an extra layer of security for parents who want to prevent their children from accessing mature games and other features on their device.

  • The FTC has now unanimously rejected plans to introduce the technology, but it has not taken a position on its merits and stated they may be resubmitted in the future without prejudice.

  • The gaming community's response was generally negative, with many raising privacy concerns, particularly for children. According to the ESRB (via Eurogamer), the technology is aimed at adults to enable parental controls, not children, and was created to enforce the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA).

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