Why MitID Is the Future of Digital Age Verification in Denmark

It’s too easy to access age-restricted products online in Denmark.

If you want to buy alcohol, nicotine, or tobacco products, it’s enough to simply check a box to claim you are above the legal age without having to prove it. And these products are consumed by underage customers at a growing rate.

This issue of underage consumption is debated by journalists and politicians.

Why is age verification necessary?

The current age restriction in Denmark for purchasing alcohol is:

  • 16 years for products containing between 1.2% and 16% alcohol
  • 18 years for those with an alcohol content above 16%

Despite these regulations, many 15-year-olds are gaining access to alcohol. In 2022, statistics revealed that 22% of girls and 27% of boys aged 15 consumed alcohol on a weekly basis.

When it comes to purchasing nicotine, you have to be over 18 years of age. However, approximately 18.2% of 15 to 17-year-olds regularly use nicotine products like vapes or nicotine pouches (snus).

This high underage consumption of alcohol and nicotine has sparked discussions regarding their accessibility. Research indicates that underage age consumers can easily obtain these products, particularly through online channels.

The online age verification problem

As digital natives, underage consumers often use the internet for online shopping. This has raised concerns regarding the digital age verification process.

What does the law say?

The law for purchasing nicotine or alcohol products through webshops and delivery services states that the seller must require the customer to confirm they are above the legal age. The customer is not required to verify their age and simply needs to tick a checkbox claiming they meet the legal age requirement.

The ease of purchasing age-restricted items like alcohol, tobacco, and nicotine products is a topic of discussion. In 2019, DR highlighted how easy it was to purchase alcohol without age verification. Similarly in 2020, Alkohol & Samfund conducted a test which revealed that underage consumers could buy alcohol from seven out of nine webshops without undergoing age checks.

In 2023, DR addressed the problem of underage consumers purchasing tobacco and nicotine products online by simply ticking a checkbox before completing the purchase.

MitID as a potential solution

The proposed solutions to the online age verification issue have been rather one-sided.

Alkohol and Samfund proposed that webshops selling alcohol should be required to use MitID for age verification to prevent underage access. Likewise, the trade association, De Samvirkende Købmænd, recommended MitID as a solution to help online businesses avoid selling to underage consumers.

The industry association for nicotine, Nikotinebranchen, also advocated for the use of MitID for secure age verification when selling nicotine products online.

In November 2023, the Danish government and various opposition parties announced their collaboration on 30 initiatives to combat the increasing use of alcohol, tobacco, and nicotine products by underage consumers. These initiatives included the long-debated introduction of digital age verification.

These discussions led to a 2024 legislative proposal from the Danish Ministry of Health to introduce mandatory age verification, potentially through electronic identities like MitID. This proposal is a significant step toward implementing a stricter age verification process in Denmark, driven by the government.

If approved, the requirement for age verification could potentially be enforced as early as October 1, 2024.

Why MitID is the best option for age verification

MitID is the most effective method for secure age verification in Denmark. There are three main reasons for this:

  1. Security: MitID is a secure and trusted way of verifying someone’s identity. And, because a MitID verification always includes the birth date, it is a reliable way to verify the person’s age.
  2. User experience: MitID supports biometric verification and eliminates the need for passwords. So it’s a fast, simple and convenient way to prove your identity.
  3. Widespread adoption: MitID is widely used by 4,96 million people in Denmark, so they’re already familiar with it and trust the verification process.

Conclusion

The rising consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and nicotine products by young people in Denmark has sparked a political movement in support of a new age verification processes.

The current law doesn’t enforce sufficient age checks for online purchases of age-restricted products. Several organizations have suggested digital age verification with MitID as a solution.

At Criipto, we provide a MitID integration for age verification.

If you’re interested to learn more, take a look at some of our other articles:

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