VeriSign Inc., Mountain View, CA, this month began implementing its Authentication Service Bureau, a service that allows e-commerce merchants to verify the identities and ages of their online customers.
As part of the launch, VeriSign has struck partnerships with data companies such as Equifax and Trans Union, which provide credit data, and Aristotle International, a provider of voter data.
“VeriSign is not in the business of acquiring data and that's not the business that we want to be in, but we want to use that data for the sake of authenticating individuals,” said Souheil Badran, group product manager at VeriSign.
Right now, many Web sites selling alcohol, tobacco and other age-sensitive items accept credit card information as proof of age, Badran said. If sites do not do everything possible to verify that their customers are of legal age, the government will step in, he added.
By using the Authentication Service Bureau, marketers will be able to sell age-sensitive goods online more easily, said Jay MacAniff, director of communications at Aristotle International Inc., Washington.
In the case of Aristotle's voter records, VeriSign can verify a user's age through a sworn-to public document.
“The companies involved are trying to put together a system by which people of age can purchase or do online what they should legally be allowed to do on the Web,” MacAniff said.
The service is available to Web marketers on a subscription basis.