ESRB seeks FTC approval on facial recognition system

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The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB), along with digital identity solutions firm Yoti and SuperAwesome, a subsidiary of Epic Games, have proposed facial age estimation technology to prevent kids from bypassing parental controls to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

This will massively prevent children from accessing unwanted payment options and games intended for adults, according to ESRB. They have also confirmed that this will not result in the removal of any previous verification but instead work as another layer of security.

The proposal was done back in early June but is now coming into the spotlight after the FTC have started seeking public opinion on this matter thanks to gamesindustry. The final day to submit public opinion on the matter is August 21.

According to the proposal sent, the Facial Age Estimation tech works with up to 99.9% in determining a person’s age. If the proposal is approved, underage gamers will not be able to play M-rated games if their parents do not allow.

It is not uncommon for children to try and bypass verification to play games that are intended for certain audiences. Around 35% of the users in the UK and EU submitting facial scans has failed, which confirms that many kids do play games without permission.

While, in theory, the idea of a facial scan for proper verification is great, ESRB will have to convince people who are more privacy-focused and are not comfortable to giver their image to play video games as it is much more invasive than any other verification method.

Speaking on the privacy issue, an ESRB spokesperson talking to Gizmodo said, “First and foremost, this application is not to authorize the use of this technology with children. Any images and data used for this process are never stored, used for AI training, used for marketing, or shared with anyone.”

ESRB also claims that the verification process takes a second to complete verification and delete the data and is arguably more secure than other methods of verification like credit cards, driver’s licenses, or social security numbers, which can be used or misused.

This is not the first time we are hearing about facial recognition being used to prevent kids from playing games. China have already done this with their policy to prevent kids from playing games over long hours.