A proposal that will force online retailers to take extra steps to ensure that young people cannot buy or access
inappropriate goods or material will moves one step closer to becoming law. The Online Purchasing of Goods and Services (Age Verification) Bill was set receive its second reading in the House of Commons on Friday.
The Bill proposes making it a requirement for the providers of goods and services and the providers of specified facilities enabling the purchase of such goods and services to take reasonable steps, in certain circumstances, to establish the
age of customers making such purchases . The proposed law refers to goods which it is already illegal to sell to people under the specified ages, such as 16 for cigarettes and 18 for alcohol.
It had previously been introduced in the House of Commons but ran out of Parliamentary time.
Some peers in the Lords raised objections to the Bill, though. The Earl of Erroll said that concerns over payments technology and over the scope of the Bill should cause concern: We must allow young people to buy things online. Many things are
only obtainable that way nowadays - certainly the better bargains, he said. We must not outlaw methods of payment that will completely stop them buying anything.
The Earl of Erroll also warned that the Bill was in fact not just about age-restricted goods but gave Government the power to bar access to other materials: The second major problem refers to unconstrained powers. Clause 1(2) provides that the
Secretary of State can make regulations that could extend to things that are not covered by legal ages or goods and services covered under current laws. The legal duty to comply with these laws already exists, and I do not think that Parliament
should micromanage people in how they do these things. We should not be passing laws just to send a message. That is not a good idea.