Few brewers would dream of serving someone in their brewery or tasting room without checking an ID to ensure that all the craft beer lovers in the room are of legal drinking age. When it comes to their virtual breweries and tasting rooms, however, there appears to be a bit of laxness in ensuring that everyone is age appropriate. The problem with ignoring the age of virtual visitors is that Marketing and Advertising Codes issued by industry associations require age gates for websites and on social media. Age gates are also recommended by the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”).
Most craft breweries have age gates on their websites, but many are ineffective and fail to meet the Marketing and Advertising Code or the FTC’s recommendations. There are, with some variations, three basic types of age gates for websites. First, there are what I would call passive age gates. These simply state that by viewing the website the viewer agrees or acknowledges that he or she is 21 or older. It is often at the bottom of the page or another location where it is easily missed or ignored. Second, are age gates that require some interaction, but nothing more than a simple click. These have a popup or landing page that ask whether the viewer is at least 21, requiring the user to click on “yes” or “no” to enter the website. Obviously, if the viewer wants to get into the website, he or she will click yes regardless of age. Third, are age gates that actually require the underage user to do some math to gain entry. While a diligent viewer will figure it out, these age gates require a bit more of the user than simply opening the webpage or clicking “yes.” Instead, the user is required to enter his or her date of birth – and that date of birth must be at least 21 years earlier – before gaining access to the website. (more…)