May 26, 2024

“In order for me to verify that you are authorized to access this website, I need to collect your perfect information every time you visit a website,” he said, referring to the need to collect all forms of identity each time a user goes online. “So, we would no longer have anonymous browsing.” 

He said a verified user could still hand a laptop or phone to a minor or child, and tech companies, with another form of data collection, would need facial recognition technology to ensure the person has been verified. Tech companies also would have to create a log of every person who visits a website and would have to store that information in order to respond to potential lawsuits, making that information more liable to be leaked, Szabo said. 

Jason Kelley, associate director for digital strategy at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group that advocates for free speech and digital privacy, said a tough national data privacy standard may eliminate the need for age verification systems.

A federal measure that restricts the ability of tech companies to collect unlimited quantities of data on users could “shift the profit motive of a lot of these companies, which are built on data collection and targeted ads,” Kelley said in an interview. “That could lead to a less toxic online” experience overall. 

Less dependence on data collection and targeted ads could lead to more competition, which could give users and kids more options to choose platforms that offer greater protections and safer experiences, Kelley said.