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France explores age verification to access adult content

France explores age verification to access adult content

The Commission Nationale de l’informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) in France has developed prototype software to verify the ages of people who want adult-themed online content.

CNIL created the tool in collaboration with Olivier Blazy, a professor at the École Polytechnique, and the Pôle d’Expertise de la Régulation Numérique de l’Etat.

The commission is now calling on site admins to implement age control mechanisms to prevent access to adult content while also respecting users’ privacy.

Writing in a blog post (in French) on Tuesday, the CNIL also confirmed it would not publish a separate analysis of age verification tools, as its position remains unchanged from its 2022 claims. That means facial analysis for age estimation based on biometric data is acceptable, as is validation of a payment card, while facial recognition is not.

At the time, the CNIL called for additional age verification methods designed to limit children’s access online. The commission is now expanding on that.

The commission issued a statement saying, “[We] will work with Arcom and the government to ensure compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of future solutions.”

At the same time, the entity clarified it has no direct mandate to monitor verification effectiveness for pornographic sites.

“The GDPR is not incompatible with age control for access to pornographic sites, which is provided for by law,” CNIL writes.

The regulator wants age control to be operated by a body distinct from the publisher of the website being visited, so that the entity providing age assurance knows who the person is but not what site they are visiting, and the website knows the person is of age, but not who they are.

Ultimately, however, it is the responsibility of pornographic site owners to choose and implement ways of complying with the legal requirements for age control under the Autorité de Régulation de la Communication Audiovisuelle et Numérique (Arcom) and the judiciary.

It was just days ago that French Digital Minister Jean-Noël Barrot announced strict measures to ensure that children in the country won’t be able to access pornographic sites by the end of 2023.

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