00:24 GMT +319 November 2019
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    a man takes a picture of a woman at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas.

    Want Some X-Rated Pleasures? Show Your Face! Aussie Gov’t Proposes New Verification Tool for Porn

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    The Department of Home Affairs has proposed conducting face and document verification to check the age of users on porn and gambling platforms to shield children from harmful content. However, the move lacks a legal basis, as the Australian parliament earlier turned down a needed bill over privacy concerns.

    Australia’s Department of Home Affairs has informed the parliament, which is conducting an inquiry to find out if age checks for online porn and gambling are sufficient, that the country’s authorities can use its facial and document services, nicknamed “The Capability” system, to shield minors from harmful content.

    “This could assist in age verification, for example by preventing a minor from using their parent’s driver licence to circumvent age verification controls. Whilst they are primarily designed to prevent identity crime, Home Affairs would support the increased use of the Document and Face Verification Services across the Australian economy to strengthen age verification processes”, the department said in the submission.

    However, as Business Insider Australia points out, while the Document Verification Service, which allows both business and authorities to check identity papers, is operational, the similar Face Verification Service is encountering a legal hurdle. It is not operational yet, as the dedicated committee of the Australian parliament has rejected the corresponding Identity-matching Services Bill 2019, citing insufficient privacy guarantees, and has recommended that it be redrafted.

    An inquiry to find out whether the current mechanisms being used to verify the age on sites are enough was announced last month by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs. Easy access to porn among youth under 18, in particular, has raised concern.

    “While customers must verify their age within 14 days to continue using an online wagering account, an age verification process is not required at all for customers to access online pornography. This is concerning, as research shows that accessing pornography negatively influences young peoples’ attitudes to sex, sexuality and relationships”, the committee’s chair, Andrew Wallace, said, as cited by Business Insider.

    The full name of the system being pushed by the Australian government for better checks is the National Facial Biometrics Matching Capability. The tool, designed to form a national biometric database on the basis of photos on passports and drivers licences with no choice to opt out, has faced public scrutiny in Australia over fears for privacy.

    The idea of being caught watching porn by the government, even if done for the greater good of shielding children from explicit and harmful content, has prompted backlash online, with users sharing their concern on Twitter.

    Related:

    Age Checks for UK Porn Viewers Branded 'Censorship Via a Back Door'
    Legal Issues Leave UK's Porn Age-Verification System in Limbo - Reports
    Smut Security: UK to Enforce Age Verification for Porn Sites This Summer
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    Internet, gambling, children, age, face recognition, porn, Australia
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