KJM approves age verification system based on biometric age checks

IRIS 2023-1:1/20

Sebastian Klein

Institute of European Media Law

On 7 November 2022, the Kommission für Jugendmedienschutz (Commission for the Protection of Minors in the Media – KJM) announced that it had approved another age verification system, which means there are now 102 KJM-approved age verification systems on the market.

The latest system to be approved, known as “FaceAssure”, was devised by Privately SA. Machine learning was used to train it to estimate a person’s age based on their biometric features. In order to mitigate the fact that some young people look older than they really are, the KJM requires the system to operate a five-year buffer. It must therefore estimate a person’s age to be at least 23 in order to grant them access to content suitable for adults only (18+). The system is also designed to prevent users submitting still images, while the biometric data transmitted is only stored on the user’s own device, an example of Privacy by Design.

The KJM, after examining the system, concluded that the version submitted, when used as a partial solution, was a suitable identification mechanism under its criteria for guaranteeing a closed user group of adults pursuant to the German Jugendmedienschutz-Staatsvertrag (State Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media - JMStV).

According to the JMStV, certain telemedia content, that is likely to impair the development of young people, may only be distributed if the provider ensures that it is only accessible for adults. Technical systems that are designed to prevent children and adolescents accessing such content can be submitted to the KJM, which will check whether they meet the legal requirements.

In principle, face-to-face checks are required to compare a person’s face with an official identity document. However, a face-to-face check is not required if software is used to automatically determine the person’s likely age, using biometric characteristics from a live camera image, and generates a reliability score for the age verification result.



This article has been published in IRIS Legal Observations of the European Audiovisual Observatory.