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Canadian digital standards org wants porn bill to go harder on biometric age verification

Canadian digital standards org wants porn bill to go harder on biometric age verification
 

The Digital Governance Standards Institute (DGSI) of Canada is proposing the adoption of a standard that specifies minimum requirements for age verification methods using biometrics.

Citing a list of risks to young people arising from inadequate, ineffective online age verification tools, the DGSI’s proposal pushes the federal government to add extra standards and technical safeguards to the age verification measures in its pending Bill S-210, also known as the Protecting Young Persons from Exposure to Pornography Act.

The DGSI argues that Bill S-210 “does not extend to the dominant digital platforms children access that expose them to adult content, including gambling, violence, guns, hate speech, sexual content, and more. These trends compel the need for a broader application of age verification technologies.” The proposal points to regulations in place in the UK, France, and certain U.S. states, designed to limit underage access to pornography. (Other states have been less successful.)

“Canada is lagging behind other jurisdictions when it comes to protecting young persons’ online,” it says. “Our solutions in Canada must be designed for no less than the contemporary world our children face daily.”

According to the proposal, that includes the risk of sexual predators stalking virtual worlds to lure children, abundant opportunities for digital gambling, and social media challenge videos that drive kids to do stupid and dangerous stunts to win likes and status points. It cites a Statistics Canada report from 2022 showing that “9,441 children in 2020 were victimized from reported cybercrimes, up 200 percent from 2014.”

Concerningly, luring accounted for 77 percent of offenses.

The data privacy risks that could go along with children submitting selfie biometrics for age verification is also alluded to in the proposal.

The DGSI’s proposed standard aims to bring Canada in line with international best practices, in part by encouraging innovations in biometrics-based age-verification by Canadian researchers.

Canadian pornography site Pornhub, the largest on the internet, currently reports upwards of 150 million daily active visitors globally.

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