Portland TV in Age Verification Deal with Veridu

Stephen Yagielowicz

LONDON — Television X parent Portland TV has announced a deal with London-based identity specialist, Veridu, in the run-up to Friday’s XBIZ EU debate on the pros and cons of online age verification (AV).

Under Rule 11, U.K. video on demand regulator, ATVOD, requires that hardcore VOD content be placed behind an access control gateway, and that technical tools are used to verify that customers are 18 years of age or older at the point of registration.

According to Portland TV’s Managing Director, Chris Ratcliff, the company has wrestled with AV since bringing its web operations onshore in 2011. An initial move to credit card-only transactions resulted in revenues taking a severe hit given the number of U.K. customers for whom debit cards are the preferred payment route. Portland was quick to introduce to a ‘belt and braces’ approach to age verification by running checks against independent data sources via a third party identity provider.

“I’d like to thank Intelligent ID for getting us started, but the market’s shifted [and] ultimately I needed a broader range of datasets to verify against,” Ratcliff explains. “Veridu has been particularly enterprising in this respect. They offer the traditional checks against the U.K. electoral role, a number of credit reference agencies and passport and driving license data.”

Ratcliff says that by working closely together, the two companies have been able to reduce the costs while significantly improving match rates.

“The next step is to commission an independent audit of the accuracy of Veridu’s ability to age verify using social sign-on. If we can crack this, it will further reduce costs and ease the whole on-boarding process by removing the need for customers to share sensitive personal data when they sign up,” Ratcliff explains. “Let’s face it, the last thing you want to hand over to your favorite porn site is your passport or driving license.”

As part of the deal, Portland is sharing its full list of pre-verified U.K. users with Veridu. This means that anyone signing up with Veridu will be able to run an AV check against this data free-of-charge before making the calls to external datasets — provided they similarly agree to pool their verifications to build a federated dataset.

“Veridu have really grasped the need for a low-cost, easy-to-implement solution with no prohibitive upfront premiums,” Ratcliff added. “It’s ideal whatever scale of business you run.”

According to Veridu CEO and founder Rasmus Groth, the adult industry wants to solve the age verification challenge in a way that works for them and their customers.

“Rather than having prohibitively expensive solutions imposed on them that will only drive kids onto illegal sites,” Groth said. “We want to help [the industry] with solutions that provide actual safety for kids, rather than just introducing expensive procedures that make the problem worse.”

While its solution is pending regulatory approval, Portland TV is also working with Telecom 2 to integrate its mobile age verification solution, Verime, which checks the AV status of a user’s mobile SIM by polling the mobile network operator to verify if the handset has been enabled for adult services.

“Age Verification: The Pros & Cons” will take place on Friday, September 26 at 1 p.m. as part of XBIZ EU at the London Hilton Metropole. Speakers include representatives of Portland TV, Veridu, Telecom 2, Intelligent ID, the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) and .XXX. The session will be chaired by Jerry Barnett of Sex & Censorship.

For more information, visit XBIZEU.com.