• May 23, 2024

Digital Age Checks Deployed in Netherlands

 Digital Age Checks Deployed in Netherlands
Similar technology has also been trialed in Italy. (Photo: Innovative Technologies)

Parts of the Netherlands have implemented face scanners to check consumers’ ages before selling cigarettes to them, according to Dutch News.

About 100 outlets have opted for face scanners so far. The camera uses artificial intelligence to scan a customer’s face and estimates their age based on features such as skin condition and wrinkles. If the customer is thought to be over 25, the transaction can continue, but if not, the machine will ask to scan the customer’s ID.

“The process is similar to that at airports,” said Theo Snijders, CEO of H@nd, the scan-making firm.

The legal framework was devised with product safety organization NVWA, privacy watchdogs and lawyers to ensure that customers’ personal data are not compromised. The scanners do not store data and only record the number of scans. According to Snijders, a scan is not a condition for buying tobacco as that would be illegal.

Sellers caught not complying with age check requirements could face fines up to €9,000 or a temporary loss of their license to sell tobacco products.

Beginning July 2024, tobacco products can only be legally sold at specialist stores and gas stations.

Tech firms and vape stores have been experimenting with digital age-verification tools in various markets. Tobacco Reporter profiled one such project in Italy  in its December 2023 edition. (See “Beyond Face Value”).