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News release

Launch of exploratory consultations on the privacy implications of age-assurance systems

Participate in the OPC’s exploratory consultation on age assurance by submitting feedback by September 10, 2024, at 11:59 p.m. PST.  

June 10, 2024 – Today, Privacy Commissioner Philippe Dufresne launched an exploratory consultation to gather input on how and when online services should confirm the age of a user in order to restrict young people from accessing certain content and apply other age-related practices.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) is seeking input on issues related to age assurance and privacy, which will inform subsequent policy and guidance development.

“Age-assurance methods can protect children from harm but can also raise privacy implications,” says Commissioner Dufresne. “The feedback received through this exploratory consultation will help to inform the OPC’s direction on this topic so that we can protect children and their privacy.”

The Commissioner launched the exploratory consultation during his keynote address at the International Association of Privacy Professionals Canada Privacy Symposium 2024 in Toronto.

Age-assurance methods are used to restrict young people from accessing certain online content that could be harmful to them. In some instances, age assurance can also be used to direct young people to a version of a service that is tailored to children and youth. The age of a user is typically verified through methods that include age declaration, age verification, and age estimation.

The OPC has published an exploratory consultation document on age assurance that sets out its current understanding and preliminary considerations on the topic. The questions to be studied over the course of this consultation are outlined in the discussion paper and touch on:

  • privacy considerations about age assurance that have not been identified in the paper;
  • research, principles, or other information that may provide necessary context or background about privacy and age assurance; and
  • potential alternative or complementary approaches to protecting young people online, such as education or device-level parental controls.

Following this consultation, the OPC will determine the appropriate next steps. The current intention is to use the feedback that is received to inform the drafting of a guidance document on the appropriate design and use of age-assurance technologies, as they relate to privacy. The OPC intends to hold a subsequent consultation on its draft guidance document before it is finalized.

The Office is also conducting further research in this area, including learning from the experience of other privacy regulators and sharing information on age-assurance methods as a member of an international working group. Members of this working group intend to publish a joint statement of principles for age assurance later this year.  

On May 27, 2024, Commissioner Dufresne appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National on Bill S-210, An Act to Restrict Young Persons’ Online Access to Sexually Explicit Material, where he discussed the privacy implications of collecting personal information through age-verification methods online.

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Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

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