HomeTechOnlyFans: government-approved ID tech at heart of Ofcom investigation

OnlyFans: government-approved ID tech at heart of Ofcom investigation


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The implementation of age verification technology developed by a British digital ID startup is at the centre of an Ofcom investigation into creator platform OnlyFans.

Ofcom said it had opened an investigation into London-based OnlyFans – known for hosting sexual content – as it has “grounds to suspect the platform did not implement its age verification measures in such a way as to sufficiently protect under-18s from pornographic material”.

OnlyFans’ age verification is handled by Yoti, a prominent UK-based digital identity company backed by HSBC and Lloyds Bank. OnlyFans uses Yoti’s facial recognition age estimation technology to support its age verification.

The government has also approved Yoti to conduct Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks for workers and renters.

A statement from OnlyFans said a “coding configuration issue” led the company to erroneously claim its age verification threshold was set to 23 years when it was actually set to 20 years.

Yoti told UKTN that OnlyFans has “always voluntarily elected to set the threshold for Yoti above 18 years old”.

The company said it is “always the responsibility of each business to set an appropriate threshold either in compliance with regulatory requirements or to meet their internal operating policies”.

UKTN has contacted Ofcom for comment.

Ofcom’s role in preventing children from accessing inappropriate digital content has been expanded since the passing of the Online Safety Act.

The act has emphasised the importance of digital age verification for adult sites, which has supported the growth of the emerging market of digital ID startups.

Other digital ID firms with government approval include OneID, TrustID and Credas Technologies. Among the larger digital ID startups is Onfido, which was acquired last month by US payments company Entrust.

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