All children in the UK will soon require a digital ID to watch films in UK cinemas it has been announced.
The technology has been developed by tech company Yoti who claim that it will help movie theatres 'fulfill their legal obligation to stop kids from seeing films with violence and sexual content' but has been seen by many as digital IDs for all by stealth.
The digital ID has already been approved to allow children to access trust funds when they reach 18 and is also being trialed in supermarkets.
Critics have privacy concerns and fear the normalization of digital IDs. The digital ID only shows someone is above 18, 15, or 13, and is being promoted as a simple safety device. However, the system will store huge amounts of personal and private data and is likely to be joined up with other datasets once implemented. These could include data on a child's health, online habits, and carbon footprint within 5 years.
Children will have to upload an existing document such as a passport along with a 'selfie' to confirm the person on the ID is the one using it is also needed. Facial recognition software will also be used in future versions with biometric data being stored centrally. Yoti says it will not have access to these data, but freedom campaigners have pointed out that it is what the government will do with the data that is the real issue.
Using a digital ID to watch a film is just the start. Phil Clapp, the CEO of the UK Cinema Association, said: “For many wanting to get into a 15 or even 18 certificate film, proving their age – without a passport or driving license to hand – can be incredibly difficult and an understandable source of frustration should they be turned away from the cinema".
“This new partnership offers a straightforward and modern way to reduce the likelihood of that happening. Of the 165 million to 170 million admissions per year UK cinemas were seeing pre-pandemic, around 30 percent fall within the 15 to 24-year-old bracket, and around 20 percent within the 9 to 14-year-old age group." “Since cinemas reopened last May those proportions are likely to be even higher.”
There isn't a massive problem with children sneaking in to see sex and violence in cinemas despite what Mr Clapp claims. There hasn't been a real issue with underage kids sneaking in to see films since something called the internet became available.