Australian government proposes biometrics for online age verification

Australian government proposes biometrics for online age verification

Australia’s Department of Home Affairs is making efforts for a large-scale deployment across the country of its Face Verification Service and Document Verification Service, face-matching system which could easily be used to verify age for Australians interested in online pornography, among other identity-matching services, writes ZDNet.

“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 replied in writing to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs’ inquiry on whether the technology could be enforced for age checks for online pornography.

The inquiry was made in September, following the UK’s initiative to do the same. However, it was reported this month that the UK government’s plans fell through following concerns raised by privacy groups.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security ruled last week that biometric legislation has to be reexamined because it does not yet properly address privacy and should be more detailed. At the moment, the Face Verification Service is not ready for deployment.

“The committee acknowledges these concerns and believes that while the Bill’s explanatory memorandum sets out governance arrangements, such as existing and contemplated agreements and access policies, they are not adequately set out in the current Bill,” said Committee Chair Andrew Hastie.

“In the committee’s view, robust safeguards and appropriate oversight mechanisms should be explained clearly in the legislation.”

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