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Use face scans to access online porn: Parliament

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A parliamentary inquiry into online age verification has recommended the federal government use face scans and official ID to confirm a person’s age.

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Committee chair and Liberal MP Andrew Wallace tabled the committee’s report in parliament on Thursday, saying it was necessary to protect children from violent pornography and gambling online.

“The committee recognises none of these methods are perfect,” the Liberal MP told parliament.

“These methods and others can be mixed or offered as choices to give users the flexibility and reassurance of privacy.”

The committee recommended Australia’s online safety watchdog develop a road map to verify people’s ages online and said third parties should also be allowed to provide verification services.

Wallace said children were accessing increasingly violent pornography, including non-consensual sex.

“We’re not talking about the occasional discarded Playboy magazine of the past,” he said.

“This is not rocket science; we place age restrictions on this kind of material in the offline world for a reason.”

Children were also gambling through the use of “loot boxes” online, paying for mystery prizes through video games, the inquiry heard.

Labor co-chair Sharon Claydon said while her party wouldn’t dissent from the recommendations, more research was needed.

“It may well fail to win public trust or fail to be effective as a measure to keep children safe online,” Claydon told parliament.

“There is not a control mechanism that is 100 per cent effective.”

She pointed to a similar scheme in the UK which was axed by the government.

“This demonstrated how complicated it is to get age verification right,” Claydon said.

The report recommends the government’s Digital Transformation Agency and cybersecurity agency develop a method to verify ages.

It pointed to American consumer credit agency Equifax recommending tying online age verification to the national electoral role or Equifax data.

Equifax was subject to a mass hack in 2017 which saw Americans’ personal data stolen from the company’s servers.

The committee also suggested the eSafety commissioner look at methods to reduce children’s access to gambling sites and loot boxes, while developing more resources for parents.

-AAP

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