The ESRB, the organization responsible for rating video games and entertainment software in the United States and Canada, has proposed to the Federal Trade Commission of the United States to implement technology to estimate the age of players using a facial age recognition system. This is reported by GamesIndustry.biz. According to the ESRB, this technology is more reliable than other parental control methods.
The system was developed in collaboration with the ESRB, Yoti, a digital identity company that is a “daughter” of Epic Games, and SuperAwesome. The ESRB’s proposal states that such a system would accurately determine a person’s age and protect their privacy.
For age verification, the user has to take a picture of themselves, then the system checks whether there is a live human face in the frame and uploads the image to Yoti’s internal server for evaluation.
Regarding security, especially the security of minors, the proposal states that once used for age determination, “images are immediately, permanently deleted, and not used by Yoti for training purposes.” The document states that facial age estimation poses no significant risk to parental privacy or potential user bias.
The proposal also states, “To the extent that there is any risk, it is easily outweighed by the benefits to consumers and businesses of using this [Facial Age Estimation] method.”
As a reminder, the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) was founded in 1994 by the Entertainment Software Association as a non-governmental self-regulatory organization, after a series of accusations against video games by US politicians regarding the alleged excessive cruelty of games and the corruption of the younger generation. Since 1994, the ESRB has assigned an age rating to all games released in the United States. There are similar organizations in other countries, such as the European PEGI (Pan European Game Information). It is up to the sellers to comply with the requirements to sell games with the appropriate rating, but parents often do not consider these ratings important and allow their children to play games without age restrictions.