Should We Need to Show ID To Access All Online Services?

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With passions running high after the Euro finals, the discussion around needing to show ID in order to access social media platforms is being had once again.

Unfortunately, the England team not getting the result the country had hoped for resulted in some questionable social media content being posted including racial abuse towards some members of the England team. As often happens when something as high profile as this takes place, people start to question how social media can be made a safer place. One theory is that people should be made more accountable for their actions and as such, a stop to anonymous profiles that are simply used to troll people would be made a thing of the past. There are different ways that people believe this could happen, however, the introduction of people needing to show photo ID before they can create an account is something many people are keen on. As with any scheme, something like this does have its drawbacks, so should showing ID be a requirement to access all online services?

Accessing Online Services

When it comes to online services, there are different platforms available that are aimed at different audiences and have different age restrictions. As such, whichever method is selected, it would be down to the platform itself to monitor and police the accounts that are created.

One industry that already has reasonably strict criteria when it comes to signing up to its site is adult entertainment websites. For obvious reasons these websites should only be accessed by those aged over 18; and as such, it is the norm to have to show ID and answer some questions before you are allowed to sign up. This is not likely to change and in fact, if using various platforms did become stricter, it is likely that adult entertainment websites would need to tighten their belts too.

Although the gambling industry doesn’t always require photo ID, they do tend to run automated Know Your Customer (KYC) checks when someone signs up to their website. This involves checking the information a customer has entered to ensure it is a genuine signup. People will invariably be asked to confirm their email addresses before they can go ahead and play. As a result of the KYC check, a photo ID may be asked for, to confirm some details, if the checks are carried out, come back to say that these are needed.

Currently, social media platforms don’t ask for any photo ID, although Facebook can request this if they feel that a profile is not genuine. People can actually create a free email address via something such as Gmail and then a brand new Twitter account within a matter of minutes – which many people will say contributes to trolling being so prevalent on the platform. The fact that it is so easy to create a new account even if you do get banned from Twitter isn’t much of a deterrent when it comes to people misbehaving on the platform.

The Drawbacks

In theory, asking for photo ID seems like a good idea; after all, it would mean that everyone is more accountable for what they post online. Knowing that anything they can post can be checked and tracked back to them would likely be a deterrent and put many people off of posting abuse online. However, with this ID needing to be checked before an account can be created, social media platforms would need to put together teams of staff to verify accounts. With this extra workload unlikely to bring in any extra business revenue it is likely to be something that social media platforms are reluctant to do.

Not only that, but not everyone has access to a photo ID. If you haven’t travelled abroad and don’t drive then your options are limited. There is talk of a national digital identity card, but would that work for those with no fixed address? If there is a cost attached to any of this then you could be pricing out people from social media; something which has always traditionally been free to access.

Which Industries Already Do Checks?

There are different industries that already do checks on their customers. As discussed above the gambling and casino industry already do some Know Your Customer checks, even if they don’t always ask for photo ID as part of this. The gambling industry has traditionally been one that keeps up with technological advances and as such, photo ID becoming a requirement is something that they are likely to introduce in the future.

Even working with KYC platforms is quite forward-thinking and not something that all industries currently do. Many KYC platforms are already heavily integrated with igaming companies, working on enhancements like developing casinos with the fastest withdrawals – they know that keeping up with customer demand is essential and a big part of this is keeping up with how technology is evolving.

For obvious reasons, much of the financial world will ask for photo ID before you are able to engage with its online services, especially if you are not already a customer. For example, if you’re not a customer at a particular bank then setting up an online bank account will require photo ID. If you are already a customer then you can usually prove your identity in some other way.

As more of the world’s services turn to digital, customers are going to seek safer and more comfortable methods of carrying out transactions online. Internet safety is something that is at the forefront of many internet users’ minds, which is probably why the prospect of having to show a photo ID to access online services could be a popular one despite its drawbacks.