#Privacy: Australia proposes facial recognition to gain access to adult sites

The Australian government has proposed using facial recognition to verify the ages of people wanting to visit adult sites. 

Currently, Australian law does not prohibit minors from visiting adults site, however this new proposal would require users to verify their age before watching the adult material.

Under the proposal, which was launched by Australia’s Department of Home Affairs, a users’ face would be matched to images from official identity documents, however it remains unknown as to how a user would submit an image of themselves every time they visit an adult site. 

The proposal has of course raised some cybersecurity and privacy concerns. Ray Walsh, digital privacy advocate at ProPrivacy told Threatpost: 

“The kind of database this proposal would create is really quite terrifying, considering the Australian authorities’ track record when it comes to securing sensitive consumer data.

“We have already seen breaches occur at agencies such as the Australian Federal Police, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Australian Bureau of Statistics – proving that Australia’s government is ill-equipped to secure citizen’s data.”

If there were ever to be a data breach, the ramifications would be disastrous. With the 2015 Ashley Madison Breach, whereby user data of the extramarital affairs website was leaked, many affected users had committed suicide. 

Data privacy director at KnowBe4, Lecio de Paula Jr emphasised how the proposal didn’t state how the facial recognition would be enforced in accordance to data privacy best practices. 

“Any proposal such as this one brings up a lot of questions,” he told Threatpost. “What type of AI model will be used? What data will be stored on potential minors, if any (think location data)? Will they then place a tracking cookie and have the ability to begin profiling minors who attempt to enter these sites? Who will have access to the data?”

The proposal follows after a growing number of US cities are prohibiting the use of facial recognition systems in surveillance, with San Francisco becoming the first US city to ban the use of facial recognition technology by local agencies such as law enforcement. 

Recently, California has passed a three-year moratorium prohibiting state and local law enforcement from using facial recognition technology.


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