Australia proposes using facial recognition to verify age for viewing pornography online

Australia proposes using facial recognition to verify age for viewing pornography online
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Australia‘s Department of Home Affairs has reportedly proposed a measure that would use facial recognition technology to verify the age of people watching pornography online.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that the government agency would use a facial recognition system to verify that those watching pornographic content are of legal age, though there is no law currently in place that prohibits minors from viewing such content.

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Under the facial recognition proposal, a user’s face would be matched to images from official identity documents, though there are no specifics as to how the user would submit a facial image when getting online.

“Home Affairs is developing a Face Verification Service which matches a person’s photo against images used on one of their evidence of identity documents to help verify their identity,” the government agency wrote in a proposal. “This could assist in age verification, for example by preventing a minor from using their parent’s driver licence to circumvent age verification controls.”

The proposal is still conceptual at this point, but the Times reports that it shows Australia’s attempt to expand the reach of its Department of Home Affairs since the agency was created roughly two years ago.

The plan was made in a submission to a parliamentary inquiry for ideas for online age verification for pornography and gambling.

The move follows an unsuccessful attempt by Britain to require commercial providers of online pornography to verify that their users are 18 or over. That idea was dropped following numerous legal hurdles with implementation along with complaints from privacy advocates.

Australian Sen. Rex Patrick, a centrist lawmaker from the state of South Australia, told the Times that Australians should have privacy worries about the government’s use of facial recognition data.

“I think people should be very concerned about any government department that’s seeking to store this kind of information,” he said.