Australia considers age verification face scanning systems for adult content websites

Australia is seriously looking into age verification for accessing porn websites. This was recently announced by the country’s Department of Home Affairs, who hope that it will serve as a pilot program for wider deployment in all sectors that need a reliable identity-matching service. The system cannot be deployed just yet, as the Parliament will have to pass the relevant biometric legislation, but it is considered to be only a matter of time before this is introduced into legislation.

Currently a user visiting a porn website is asked to verify their age by clicking on a confirmation message or entering their date of birth. The Department of Home Affairs is stating that individuals who upload their ID documents onto the age-verification system could be minors using their parents’ IDs. Therefore it is proposing facial recognition systems that will match a user’s image with their identity is the direction to go.

One thing that is troubling the biometric bill in Australia right now is people’s privacy, and what provisions should be put in place in order to safeguard this right beyond any doubt. Australia’s Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security has asked lawmakers to completely redraft the identity-matching services bill, recommending the incorporation of appropriate oversight mechanisms as well as robust privacy protection measures. In the existing version, the explanatory memorandum was found to be too generic and vague in many key elements. The bill drafting committee told the press that they have no problem accepting these recommendations, and clarified that the intention of the government is not to introduce an online mass surveillance system but a reliable identity matching platform.

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