When George Orwell envisaged a totalitarian future in which Big Brother, an ever-watching dictator, would control its populations via cameras, he probably never imagined it would be keeping tabs on their porn-watching habits.
And yet, this very Orwellian prospect has been seriously floated by a government committee in Australia.
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An indecent proposal
The proposal was hatched in September when an Australian committee asked for ideas on how it could make it more difficult for minors to access online porn. The idea then came from the Department of Home Affairs, which recently submitted its response to the inquiry.
The solution? Start scanning everyone's face when they watch porn online and match them up to government ID photos to verify their ages.
As we said, it's all very 1984 — we could imagine a film reinterpretation, based on this news, by P.T. Anderson.
As Futurism reports, Australia's Home Affairs is currently developing a Face Verification Service that can confirm a person’s identity by matching their face to government photographs such as their passport and driver's license pictures.
A voyeuristic Big Brother
In its one-page proposal to the Social Policy and Legal Affairs Committee, Home Affairs explains that the system “could assist in age verification, for example by preventing a minor from using their parent’s driver [license] to circumvent age verification controls.”
The proposal doesn't address the well-documented inaccuracy of facial recognition software. Nor does it touch on the easy ways minors could work around the process — such as holding a picture of an adult up to the camera.
It all seems a bit messy, though it does confirm that Home Affairs is looking at ways to implement its in-development service in the private sector. In order to do so legally, however, it will need Parliament to pass the Identity-matching Services Bill of 2019.
In fact, Australia isn't the only country to have thought of age verification face scans for pornography. The U.K. recently dropped a proposal to also use face scans on porn watchers.
Thankfully, this idea isn't going to be implemented any time soon, even if it's scary that it is being seriously considered.
Could we face a future of ID through facial recognition in our homes? Only time will tell.