Deutsche Post launches online ID verification service

Postbrief digital mail service, which requires users to be at least 18 years old.

For websites using the E-Postident age-verification service, visitors will have to be registered with the E-Postbrief service, with proof of age required during the registration process.

Deutsche Post said last week that the new service would help protect minors when using the Internet, and for Internet website developers offered an automatic, real-time age verification process for their visitors.

The new service has been approved by Germany’s Commission for the Protection of Minors (KJM), as the E-Postbrief service was last September.

The Commission said last week the service was a “positive far-reaching concept” for protecting minors, and confirmed it was now one of 25 age verification systems that comply with Germany’s rules for age-appropriate Internet websites.

Deutsche Post E-Postbrief chief executive Ralph Wiegand said: “E-Postident is easy and cost effective for retailers, convenient for the consumer – and confidential to all parties as well as being legally compliant.”

Trusted verification

The new service comes as Posts around the world catch on to the opportunities of using their trusted brands to help with online identification applications, for various purposes. Just over a month ago, New Zealand Post revealed it is developing a new service called “RealMe” that will allow Internet visitors to securely access a range of government and banking websites through a single log-in.

Swiss Post launched its popular SuisseID service in 2010, similarly offering easy access to secure official websites and the ability to sign legal documents through its a “digital identity”.

Deutsche Post said its new service had applications beyond just age verification. Online vendors can confirm names, dates of birth and address information, if users have expressly consented for the information to be disclosed to the vendor.

“E-Postident and E-Postbrief are two important elements of our vision of a universal E-Post world,” said Wiegand. “It covers an increasingly wide range of personal and business areas in everyday life, and is already providing clear identities for confidential communications and to secure everyday business on the Internet.”

US opportunities

“The Postal Service is in a strong position to help fill an important part of the digital authentication gap”
Last week the US Postal Service Inspector General’s Office issued a white paper examining the world of digital identity and potential roles for USPS in providing verification services.

The paper said the usual security capabilities for websites in the US – a username and password – was “inadequate” with the rising problem of ID fraud, but suggested even existing single log-in services for websites, such as the OpenID system, “leaves many users open to ‘phishing’”, referring to a type of identity fraud.

The US government’s new Digital Strategy, unveiled last month, calls for a “trusted and neutral body” to identify and authenticate online visitors in an attempt to protect digital identities, the paper noted.

“The Postal Service is in a strong position to help fill an important part of the digital authentication gap,” said the USPS Inspector General’s report, going on to add: “While the lifecycle of many Internet-related companies have been unpredictable, the Postal Service offers an institutional permance. It has a powerful nationwide presence that is known for respecting and protecting individuals’ privacy.”

The report also points to the synergies with the Postal Service’s existing data management activities, such as its national address databases. It suggests that USPS should form partnerships with key government agencies, nonprofits or businesses to take forward a digital ID service.

“This will allow more consumer-friendly applications involving sensitive information, thus facilitating new eGovernment and eCommerce opportunities while securing important privacy protections for all users,” concluded the USPS OIG.

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