Online underage online alcohol sales

Online underage sales need regulation

Online shopping, it’s great; you can browse without the crowds, or pestering customer service staff. You can do it anytime of the day, all you need is a credit or debit card, oh and an internet connection. But how do we monitor online sales for people under the age of 18?

In physical stores customers have to provide adequate proof of age such as a drivers licence to buy a number of items, including alcohol, but entering a birth date is all that’s required to buy the same items online.

There is a lot done by the Australian Government around pornography and young people’s access to it. Cybersmart is a national cybersafety and cybersecurity education program managed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), as part of the Australian Government’s commitment to cybersafety. The program is specifically designed to meet the needs of its target audiences of children, young people, parents, teachers and library staff.

However, when purchasing alcohol and tobacco, how do online stores ensure that they are not delivering items to someone under 18? In September last year GrogWatch highlighted this issue. Studies from overseas had shown that 45 per cent of the orders placed by underage US buyers were successfully received and half of the vendors had no age verification at the point of sale. It also found that age verification at delivery was inconsistent.

GrogWatch has been alerted to a case where alcohol was ordered by email and then delivered to an empty house. Online purchasers have to state they are over 18 or enter their birth date, but it appears they can receive the goods without any further proof of age. This can give access to alcohol to people under 18 if they provide a false date.

The sale of alcohol online is not directly regulated by any liquor acts, however in most states liquor retailers are expected to abide by a code of conduct, which in some cases requires an adult to take delivery of such orders. However, as it is a code and not legislation there is no consequence if the code is not adhere to.

We believe the delivery of alcohol to a private property should always be accepted by an adult with appropriate proof of age. GrogWatch will be writing to all state governments requesting this.

We’re interested to hear about your experiences and thoughts on this issue. Leave a comment below this story and/or write to your local MP.