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    Consultation launched over AI face-scanning tech for age verification

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    The government today (25) has launched a consultation on new laws that could see the role-out of Artificial intelligence (AI) face-scanning technology to check the age of shoppers buying alcohol, thus ultimately replacing the need for customers to show their ID.

    According to Home Office, the government is keen to enable the secure and appropriate use of new technologies that can improve the experience of consumers and retailers.

    Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Co-op have already successfully trialed the technology which allowed anyone that is estimated to be over 25 to buy their alcohol without further checks. Those assessed to be under 25 had to go through the traditional confirmation of age by presenting an ID document such as a passport or driving licence.

    Officials believe such a tech could help to prevent under 18s from buying alcohol and cut violence against shop workers, who blame ID checks for leading to abuse from young customers as well as also save time on ID checks that can cause disorderly queues.

    “We are therefore consulting on whether to amend the act so as to allow digital identities and technology to play a role in age verification.

    “The need for robust national standards for digital identities and technology remains paramount in order to provide confidence to retailers and consumers alike that they are fit for purpose. Any change would reflect the wider cross-government position on the use of digital identities and technology for the sale of age-restricted products and will only take effect once there are government approved national standards in place,” states the announcement.

    The government is also considering whether the act adequately covers transactions that do not take place face to face. Currently the act only sets out a requirement to verify age at the point of sale or appropriation to a contract, not at the point of delivery.

    Chris Philp, the policing minister, said the change would require customers to be confident in the effectiveness of the technology.

    “The need for robust national standards for digital identities and technology remains paramount in order to provide confidence to retailers and consumers alike that they are fit for purpose,” he said.

    “Any change would reflect the wider cross-government position on the use of digital identities and technology for the sale of age-restricted products and will only take effect once there are government approved national standards in place,” The Telegraph quoted Philp as saying.

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