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Australia’s Online Safety Act could bring in biometric age checks for online pornography



Australia’s proposed Online Safety Act, which would give the country’s eSafety Commissioner more power, could result in biometric age checks for access to online pornography, Gizmodo writes.

Concerns have been raised by digital rights groups, and Senators had questions about how the legislation will be implemented in a recent inquiry, including a clause allowing the Commissioner to stand up an access control system.

An editorial in the Conversation by a researcher on sex work stigma raises several concerns, including that far-fetched “worst-case scenario” that the government could collect databases on people’s sexual preferences which would then be vulnerable to leakage or abuse. Other possible outcomes could include automated age checks or biometric identity verification to access adult content, or search engines deleting links to sex education and harm reduction materials for younger people.

Home Affairs suggested using its biometric Face Verification Service for restricting online content from access by minors back in 2019, and Gizmodo implies that an unelected official setting up such a system would not go over well.

Biometric age verification is becoming more common, with a deal involving Yoti’s technology for Esports participants as one recent example.

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