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Australians may need facial ID to access porn sites in near future

The Australian National Security Ministry has proposed the use of facial recognition technology to access pornography as a measure to prevent minors from accessing the adult content.
Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal, QC

The Australian National Security Ministry has proposed the use of facial recognition technology to access pornography as a measure to prevent minors from accessing the adult content.

The Department of Home Affairs submitted the page-long proposal which gave details surrounding a proposed “Face Verification Service”.

Though the technology is still a work in progress, it intends to scan a pornography viewer’s face and match it with official government ID photos.

“This could assist in age verification, for example by preventing a minor from using their parent’s driver (licence) to circumvent age verification controls,” reads the proposal. The document also stated that the tech is “not fully operational” currently.

Australia isn’t the first country to take on the issue of overly accessible pornography. The United Kingdom, for example, recently ditched efforts to enforce age verification on porn sites after issues arose with legislating of foreign websites as well as privacy concerns.

The discussion around pornography has become more of a mainstream issue, as sixteen U.S. states have declared the content a “public health hazard.” This comes after years of research and growing mounds of evidence point out that pornography causes higher levels of depression and loneliness, reduced gray matter in the motivation part of the brain, and heighten the odds of viewers having misogynist views.

Australia already has a similar framework in place for “identity matching,” which does not include facial recognition. The technology has been used by various government agencies for over 10 years, and by private groups since 2014.

The proposed “Face Verification Service”, though, would only be implemented by private companies if the Identity-matching Services Bill passes, which is currently before Parliament.

“The use of driver (licence) images through the Face Verification Service is also subject to the agreement of the states and territories,” the ministry added in its submission.

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Roberto Wakerell-Cruz
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