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'Have your face scanned or fingerprint taken to buy a drink': New plans for digital IDs for drinkers in pubs and bars
25 January 2024, 10:01 | Updated: 25 January 2024, 10:32
Drinkers face having their faces scanned or fingerprints taken when buying alcohol in pubs, bars and shops, under new government proposals.
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As well as being used in physical shops, people could also use the digital ID system online, the Mirror reported.
The plans are part of a Home Office consultation on how "digital identities, age estimation and other technology" could be used to verify people's ages.
Currently, if challenged, people have to show ID with a photograph, their date of birth and a holographic or ultraviolet mark.
"In practice this means that currently only physical identity documents are permitted," the government said.
No one would be required to have a digital ID - which is defined as "a digital representation of your identity information, like your name and age".
Home Office minister Chris Philp said: "The Government is keen to enable the secure and appropriate use of new technologies that can improve the experience of consumers and retailers.
"We are therefore consulting on whether to amend the act so as to allow digital identities and technology to play a role in age verification."
The Home Office said in a statement: "Discussions with stakeholders in the hospitality, retail and licensing sectors, as well as policing, suggest that there could be considerable support for the use of digital identities as well as technology to help to establish if an individual is old enough to purchase alcohol
Several supermarkets - Asda, Co-op, Tesco and Morrisons - have already trialled an AI face-scanning technology that aims to check if someone is over 25.
If the system thinks someone is under 25, they have to do a standard age check with a physical ID.
The Home Office consultation added: "The need for robust national standards for digital identities and technology remains paramount in order to provide confidence to retailers and consumers alike that they are fit for purpose.
"Any change would reflect the wider cross-government position on the use of digital identities and technology for the sale of age-restricted products and will only take effect once there are government approved national standards in place.
"We are also considering whether the act adequately covers transactions that do not take place face to face.
"Currently the act only sets out a requirement to verify age at the point of sale or appropriation to a contract, not at the point of delivery. We are reviewing whether this is still right and whether there should additionally be checks at the point of delivery and / or service. We are consulting on whether to amend the act so that it is explicit about when age verification must take place."