AU DHA Considers Facial Recognition for Gambling Sites

The Australian government’s Department of Home Affairs has proposed a drastic plan to address the problem of young people viewing porn online and playing games at online gambling and betting sites. Facial recognition would provide age verification more accurately than other processes.

However, the jarring suggestion has incensed Aussies around the country. Concerns about privacy rights and anonymity, not to mention the additional incentives to hackers, have abounded.

Risky Proposal

Numerous reports surfaced that a parliamentary committee is investigating the practicality of using technology to require face scans to confirm people’s identity and age before they watch pornography online or use any type of online casino or betting website.

The Department of Home Affairs decided to officially research the idea of facial recognition. This is to prevent underage porn use and gambling. One of its documents read, “This could assist in age verification, for example by preventing a minor from using their parent’s driver license to circumvent age verification controls”.

Further, the government seeks to expand the facial recognition plan to financial institutions and governmental agencies. Even to phone companies that want to use the technology.

Simply put, facial recognition technology would work as a second form of identification. When people obtain a driver’s license or other form of official government ID, they must take a photo. This photo would then accompany that ID online. Entities could verify identification with that government ID and a photo. This, reportedly, would make identifications foolproof.

Concerns Abound

Groups from across Australia have spoken up with concerns.

Sex industry lobbying groups have a wide range of concerns, not only regarding privacy. But also, the creation of a “honey pot for hackers” with so much information available. They also warned of a slippery slope that can lead to age verification for films and art. It could also reach into other parts of mainstream society.

According to the Epoch Times, the University of New South Wales’ Law Society had concerns as well. While they said age verification for porn has worked in some countries, there were internet tools that allowed people to work around the facial recognition technology.

In addition, the Law Society said the attempt to use facial recognition in the UK was “unable to guarantee the anonymity of users”. This is why the UK finally stopped its plans to introduce a nationwide facial recognition system for online pornography this year. In addition to anonymity problems, there were also numerous technical issues and vocal protests from privacy rights advocates.

Privacy Rights Explained

Privacy rights advocate Caleb Chen wrote an article to explain his concerns. He asserted that the true intention behind the proposal is to “expand the use of facial recognition technology and build a database of Australian internet users’ porn and gambling habits.”

Chen asserted that the Department of Home Affairs proposal includes a plan to update the nationwide database. This would include a timestamp every time a person views pornography or gambles online. This type of information would then be able to include documentation of the type of porn someone watches. It could also included the amounts of money gambled at online casinos. It would also have the amount of time spent doing either of those activities.

More Proposal Details

The “Inquiry into Age Verification for Online Wagering and Online Pornography” proposal was submitted to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs.

It makes certain to note that the focus of the inquiry “is not the legitimate use of online wagering and online pornography”. It is only to suggestion national guidelines that can verify the age of users.

The suggestion is that the Australian government and state and territorial governments partner with identity matching services under the 2017 Intergovernmental Agreement on Identity Matching Services. The face verification service would match the person’s photo against images used with identity documents.

However, the proposal states that the service is not fully operational. But it will eventually be available to private sector organizations. Along with governmental services, which would be a part of the “Identity-Matching Services Bill 2019”. Parliament is currently examining the bill.

Unaffected Online Casinos

The only online gambling websites that would be affected by this type of law would be those licensed by the government of Australia. This would mainly affect online sports betting but could also be expanded to include all types of lottery services.

Many online casinos have licenses elsewhere – Malta, Gibraltar, Curacao – and would not be subject to facial recognition requirements. The ones we recommend on this site would not be required to go beyond the already-sufficient and thorough processes by which they verify their customers.

However, all gamblers should watch this bill closely. The implementation of facial recognition software is another step toward the government knowing more of every person’s gambling habits and connecting that with a person’s overall identity.

 

Rose Varrelli

Rose Varrelli has always been passionate about online casinos, as she's been a player at a variety of places for years. Rose turned her personal knowledge and insight into a writing career. She aims to provide readers with the most up to date, informative news in the world of online casinos!

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