Kids can no longer sneak into 18-rated movies as cinemas introduce digital ID apps

The Yoti app allows young people to verify their age without handing over other personal information and is being trialled at supermarket checkouts by the Home Office

Teens will be able to prove their age using mobile phones in cinemas from Monday
Teens will be able to prove their age using mobile phones in cinemas from Monday

Cinemas will introduce digital ID applications to prevent children from accessing adult films that contain sex and violence.

The app will confirm the youngster’s age with box office staff and will be accepted at BFI locations on Monday.

The app was designed by digital ID provider Yoti and will determine the user’s age based on previously uploaded documents such as passports.

To date, around 3,000,000 people in the UK have downloaded the Yoti app, which is the most popular among 16 to 25 year olds.

The technology is part of a broader move toward digital IDs associated with age-restricted products, and will help movie theaters meet their legal requirements to prevent children from watching movies that contain inappropriate content.

Government hopes move will help prevent children from accessing inappropriate content


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The Home Office is trialling Yoti’s AI-powered mugshot checks that can estimate age, and its app to prevent children from buying alcohol at supermarket checkouts.

If the trials prove successful, ministers could consider amending the law to allow digital age checks on alcohol sales. Physical ID is currently required.

The digital ID app can also be used to access a range of products from Calpol to energy drinks in 30,000 convenience stores and has been approved by the government to allow young people to withdraw from Children’s Trust after the age of 18.

While critics have expressed concern that the technology could lead to the clandestine introduction of national digital IDs, proponents of the plan say it will give children an easier way to prove their age without revealing any other individuals information.

A digital ID app displays a verified photo and states if the user is over 12, 15 or 18 years old


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Yoti is also used by social media platform Yubo as part of a series of measures to prevent people under the age of 13 from accessing their website.

A digital ID is created by an individual uploading a document (such as a passport) and then taking a live photo to confirm their identity. Government-grade databases inaccessible to Yoti store information that users can delete at any time.

The digital ID app displays a verified photo and states whether the user is over 12, 15 or 18 years old.

Phil Clapp, chief executive of the British Film Institute The Telegraph : “For many people who want to make a 15 or even 18-year-old film, proving their age – without a passport or driver’s license – can be very difficult, and if they are turned away, it’s OK Understand the frustration.

The Home Office is trialling the app at supermarket checkouts


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“This new partnership offers a simple and modern way to reduce the likelihood of this happening. Before the pandemic, UK cinemas had between 165 million and 170 million annual viewers, with around 30% of those in 15 to 15 24 year old age group, about 20% are in the 9 to 14 year old age group.

“These percentages are likely to be higher since cinemas reopened last May.”

Yoti’s chief commercial officer, John Abbott, said the approach is less intrusive than physical ID files, which can include addresses and other personal information, while digital IDs are just proof of age.

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