AI Technology Creating Counterfeit IDs that Could Bypass Age Verification Regulations

A brand new AI-powered internet tool appears designed specifically to help teenagers bypass age-verification laws online and emphasizes the pointlessness of setting a minimum age for social networking use. In the past, circumventing a minimum-age requirement meant having a physical ID card to prove that an individual was of legal age. However, with online age verification, someone may only require an image of that ID card. OnlyFake, a website that utilizes AI technology to produce images of fake IDs cheaply. Those who desire to learn more about sex, technology, bodily autonomy, law, and online culture should consider subscribing to Sex and Tech from Reason and Elizabeth Nolan Brown. According to a report by 404 Media earlier this week, OnlyFake claims to use ‘neural networks’ to generate realistic-looking images of fake IDs for a mere $15. The OnlyFake website vanished after the 404 Media report was published. Still, it’s likely not the last service to offer digital fake IDs. Policies mandating that individuals prove their age prior to using social media or viewing adult content are currently making their way through U.S. statehouses, with some already being approved while others are in the works. These regulations mostly don’t specify how tech companies must verify user ages. Yet, requiring users to upload a photo of their driver’s license or other government-issued identification card directly to the tech platform or through a third-party verification site is the most convenient method. Promoters of online age verification laws argue that they are required to prevent teenagers and children from using social media or accessing adult content. However, even if you support this goal in theory, its execution has some serious concerns. For one thing, regulations necessitating individuals to connect their genuine IDs to their social media accounts and other online activities are a significant invasion of privacy for adults and minors alike. It could lead to exposure to hackers, pranksters, identity theft, and government harassment. Those days of being fully or even nominally anonymous online would be lost. Some people think that these trade-offs are justifiable to prevent kids from having complete freedom in the digital sphere. However, would age-check laws even achieve their intended objectives? The existence of websites like OnlyFake indicates that they would not. With just $15, any teenager could potentially circumvent an ID check on a social media or adult content platform utilizing it. Currently, people can produce fake ID images using photo-editing tools like Adobe Photoshop. However, AI has the potential to make the process quicker and maybe produce better results. Once an arduous task requiring some technical know-how, it could soon be effortlessly done by utilizing the right AI tool. Despite the fact that tech companies performing age checks might use tactics intended to discourage fakes, such as requiring individuals to submit a photo of themselves holding their ID, AI-powered services could generate fake photos of someone holding their fake ID card. As AI tools improve, these images will become even more realistic. Some metadata verification techniques may be used. Nevertheless, metadata can be tampered with to some extent. Some age-checking tactics, like one enacted in Utah last year, would require parental consent for minors to create social media accounts. Nonetheless, young people have been circumventing parental consent requirements in the analog world for a long time. It’s difficult to believe that this online consent couldn’t be forged with the right tools. The major AI image generation platforms may establish systems to prevent them from being utilized to create fake images. Conversely, more clandestine services, such as OnlyFake, may always emerge to fill this void. Tech firms or the third-party verification services they rely on could avoid the fake ID issue by using services that essentially conduct background checks on all users. However, the more complex the ID checks required, the more expenses and time these companies incur. Nevertheless, most tech companies would like to do the minimum required to comply with any applicable laws rather than surpassing it to exclude more users from their platforms. Perhaps if fake IDs are seen as a significant enough issue and the repercussions for failing to find them are severe enough, we may see extensive identity-checking initiatives begin to gain traction. Will those aiming to keep kids off social media be pleased then? Will teenagers be better off? I doubt it. Even if teenagers are unable to circumvent age verification laws, and even if we accept that social media might be detrimental to them, we are confronted with the possibility of unintended consequences. Since teenagers will find alternatives, and these may actually be riskier or more likely to promote the behaviors people are concerned about. It’s absurd to assume that young people will simply declare, “Well, I can’t create a TikTok account, so I guess I’ll just go to the mall like it’s the 1980s.” They will use platforms that don’t technically fall under the umbrella of social media, such as chat services, or private web forums – heck, even Google Docs would suffice. Alternatively, they’ll visit websites and join apps based in countries that don’t have age checks. All of this will make monitoring what’s going on, countering any hazardous trends, or things like bullying more difficult, while also making it less likely that the places where teenagers are viewing or creating content will be responsive to U.S. authorities at all. The crux of the matter is that young individuals have been subverting minimum age laws to purchase beer, view R-rated films, and partake in a variety of other activities for a long while. In some ways, technology has made this more difficult, with features like state-specific holograms and laser embossing making driver’s licenses less simple to counterfeit than they once were. Nevertheless, technology has also offered an array of new tools for fabricating photorealistic IDs, especially if these IDs are not intended to be scrutinized in physical form. While much of the media hype about AI’s capabilities may be excessive, its ability to create realistic images is irrefutable. Kudos to the 16-year-old who is just interested in posting memes online.