Australians May Be Forced to Scan Their Faces to Watch Porn

Want to access that porn site? Smile for the camera first.

10. 28. 19 by Kristin Houser
Nick Demou via Pexels/Victor Tangermann
Image by Nick Demou via Pexels/Victor Tangermann

In September, an Australian government committee asked for ideas on how to make it harder for minors to access online porn.

Now, another government body — the Department of Home Affairs — has submitted a response to that inquiry. Its totalitarian solution: start scanning porn viewers’ faces, and matching them up with government photos, to verify their ages.

Home Affairs — essentially the Aussie version of the United States’ Department of Homeland Security — is currently developing a Face Verification Service that would confirm a person’s identify by matching their face to a photo in a government identification document, such as a driver’s license.

In its one-page submission to the Social Policy and Legal Affairs Committee, Home Affairs notes that the system “could assist in age verification, for example by preventing a minor from using their parent’s driver [license] to circumvent age verification controls.”

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The submission doesn’t explain exactly how this age verification would work or address potential problems with it. What happens, for example, if an adult wants to open a porn site on a device without a camera? And what’s to prevent a minor from holding up a photo of an adult to bypass the verification process?

However, it does confirm that Home Affairs is already thinking about how to apply its in-development service to the private sector — pun intended — and that’s something it won’t be legally allowed to do unless Parliament passes the Identity-matching Services Bill 2019.

To sum up: a lot needs to happen before porn users in Australia are subjected to age-verifying face scans — but it’s not the first nation to explore the use of facial recognition tech for this purpose.

The United Kingdom planned to force pornographic websites to include age checks, either through face scans or some other verification system — but after multiple implementation delays, it finally dropped the plan completely earlier this month amid concerns about both workability and privacy.

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Only time will tell whether Australia will take Home Affairs up on its suggestion to use face scans for age verification on pornographic sites — or if the plan will meet the same fate as the U.K.’s.

READ MORE: The Department of Home Affairs proposes using face scanning tech to verify Aussie porn users are over 18 [Business Insider]

More on age verification: Data From British Porn Viewers Might Be in the Hands of One Company


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