News ESRB Proposes Using Facial Recognition To Verify Your Age

Card Slinger J

Aspiring Trainer

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for approval to use facial scanning technology to help determine how old a user is. Using something called Privacy-Protective Facial Estimation, a person's age would be estimated based on live scan to verify they are old enough to pass an age gate--though it would not determine who the specific person is.

According to an ESRB letter submitted to the FTC (via, the ESRB will partner with Yoti, a digital identity firm, and SuperAwesome, an Epic Games subsidiary.

One major concern this may have is storing photos--particularly those of minors--but according to the filing, "Images are immediately, permanently deleted, and not used by Yoti for training purposes." The ESRB confirmed this with GameSpot, as well. Additionally, the scans are meant to be done by the parents or guardians, rather than the minor who was presented with an age gate. Attempting to sign up for a service using this tool will result a message asking for the parent or guardian to consent.

An ESRB spokesperson told GameSpot the following:

"First and foremost, this application is not to authorize the use of this technology with children. Full stop. Nor does this software take and store 'selfies' of users or attempt to confirm the identity of users. Furthermore, this application makes no mention of using age estimation to prevent children from purchasing and/or downloading restrictively rated video games, nor do we intend to recommend its use in that way."

Facial age tech uses "computer vision and machine learning technology" to estimate one's age by looking at the "patterns in an image of their face," the ESRB told the FTC in its letter. Once the picture is taken, it's converted "into numbers, and compares those numbers to patterns in its training dataset that are associated with known ages."

This is just a gross violation of the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. If this does get approved there would be a federal injunction. I can't realistically see most video game companies forcing their customers to facially scan themselves to play Triple A video games as they would having to pay for DLC and microtransactions. Sony and Microsoft I could probably see themselves getting away with this sort of practice but Nintendo? Hell no! This is also an invasion of privacy as well as 1st Amendment rights. Does the ESRB think that by trying to get the FTC to sway to their demands that facial recognition through Triple A Video Games will cause a significant drop in mass shootings supposedly caused by violent video games?
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