Monday, 28 Nov 2022

Online age-verification system could create honeypot of personal data and pornography-viewing habits, privacy groups warn

Online age-verification system could create honeypot of personal data and pornography-viewing habits, privacy groups warn


Online age-verification system could create honeypot of personal data and pornography-viewing habits, privacy groups warn

In the wake of the Optus and Medibank data breaches, digital rights groups are urging the federal government to rule out requiring identification documents as part of any online age-verification system, warning it could create a honeypot of people's personal information and pornography-viewing habits.

The eSafety commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, is developing an online safety "roadmap", outlining a way to prevent minors from accessing adult content online by ensuring host sites have verified the ages of users.

The commissioner's report was initially due to the government in December, however, the deadline has now been extended to March next year. Stakeholders were informed of the delay in reporting last week.

A variety of options for age verification has been offered during the roadmap's development, including the use of third party companies, individual sites verifying ages using ID documents or credit card checks, and internet service providers or mobile phone operators being used to check users' ages.

Digital rights groups say almost all approaches to age verification will have some level of privacy and security risk.

"Following the Optus and Medibank breaches, millions of people are now acutely aware of the dangers of collecting and storing large amounts of our personal information," Samantha Floreani, program lead at Digital Rights Watch said.

"Age verification is a terrible combination of being invasive and risky, while also being ineffective for its purported purpose.

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