Australia's Idiotic War On Porn Returns, This Time Using Facial Recognition

from the this-isn't-going-to-work-out-you-ninnies dept

For years now, governments around the world have attempted to block, filter, or otherwise restrict the public's access to porn. And for just as long those efforts have routinely and repeatedly fallen flat on their face. Whether it's the UK's bungled and incoherent plan to employ age-checks to restrict porn access, or Utah's seemingly endless efforts to fiter porn entirely, history is filled with examples of how trying to thwart porn simply doesn't work. Filters are easy to bypass and tend to cause more problems than they solve. Waging war on porn at scale always ends in wasted money and headaches.

Apparently learning nothing from that time a teenage kid bypassed Australia's $89 million porn filters in a matter of minutes, Australia's back with a new idea to combat porn: restricting access to it via the use of facial recognition technology:

"Under the proposal from the Department of Home Affairs, a computer user’s face would be matched to images from official identity documents. It does not say how the user would submit a facial image at the beginning of each online session."

Obviously the government retaining a massive database of not only citizen facial scans -- but who is or isn't watching porn -- isn't being received well by privacy advocates. A parliamentary committee of the Australian House of Representatives began an inquiry last month fielding feedback on the effectiveness of age verification systems for adult websites and internet gambling. A filing from Australia's Department of Home Affairs championed the idea, suggesting an expansion of the government's existing facial recognition database to restrict access to online porn.

Beyond that, it's pretty clear that nobody can really explain how it will work, which is always a good sign for these types of efforts. And nobody in the Australian government wants to actually own or even talk about the dumb plan:

"The Department of Home Affairs did not respond to questions about the proposal, and the attorney general’s office, when asked to comment on the legal ramifications of the system, directed all questions to Home Affairs."

It's not clear how many times we need to go through this before governments realize that restricting access to internet porn on any meaningful scale is not only impossible given technical countermeasures like proxies or VPNs, it usually results in more problems than it causes -- be that legitimate websites being caught in the filter trap, or collected data being compromised by hackers or used by governments in ways not originally advertised.

In about two years after millions are wasted, Australia will shelve the project and lives will go on, with people worried about illegal underage access to porn doing what they should have done from the start: a little thing called responsible parenting.

Filed Under: australia, facial recognition, internet, moral panic, porn


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2019 @ 11:02am

    This world is nuts

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    norahc (profile), 31 Oct 2019 @ 11:04am

    Orgasm facial or normal porn facial recognition?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 31 Oct 2019 @ 11:05am

    Cricky! This interfering with my ability to didgeri my doo!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2019 @ 11:14am

    Define "porn."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2019 @ 11:18am

      Re:

      definition:

      porn (n) - political or financial support for people I don't like

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2019 @ 1:55pm

      Re:

      "If it exists there's porn of it." Would imply anything is potentially porn to the right person. I'm sure that governments love indulging their fetish of looking at mugshot photos of their slav....err.... citizens. Unfortunately we citizens don't get to put such locks on their access.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael, 31 Oct 2019 @ 11:17am

    "It does not say how the user would submit a facial image at the beginning of each online session"

    It's easy. When someone navigates to a porn site, they will be prompted to "Upload a facial".
    If they appear of-age, they can continue.
    If they do not appear of-age, they will be immediately arrested for distribution of child pornography.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2019 @ 11:24am

    So, Australia's gov wants to take away their citizens privacy with an encryption ban and micromanage all their people's sex life with porn bans.

    Are we sure we're talking about Australia and not China?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2019 @ 12:02pm

      Re:

      No, the US.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2019 @ 3:44pm

        Re: Re:

        So far our courts have thrown out those laws. And while they do extra-legally invade legitimately expected privacy anyway that doesn't it won't eventually get tossed with the rest of the crap laws eventually.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2019 @ 7:15am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Why do you think they are loading the courts with their judges?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2019 @ 6:40pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            If they outlaw VPN in the USA, I will continue to use it in violation of the law.

            And arrest warrants are computerised. Just break into their computers and erase them, and that will be the end of it. If they put out any warrants for your arrest, jut erase them from their computers, and that will be the end of it.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2019 @ 1:20pm

      Re:

      Then you ignore the ban and use your VPN anyway

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2019 @ 11:30am

    I am thinking that it is simply an excuse for demanding some sort of identification system that will track your ass across the globe, reporting everything you do to a group of anal retentive narcissistic little dictators.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2019 @ 2:04pm

      Re:

      "You are the other. You shall be stripped of all rights and dignity through my suspicion. You are less than myself, for I am holy and just and you are not me. You will never be free of my suspicion, nor you shall ever satisfy my demands of surveillance. You are guilty. Of what is of no importance. The only thing sitting between you and death, is my willingness to reveal my true nature to the world."

      • Every authoritarian out there.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bergman (profile), 31 Oct 2019 @ 11:34am

    It's worse than just a facial recognition database

    In order to ensure that not just the person at the computer is of age but everyone in the room is, the computer will have to be equipped with a webcam, and that webcam must be sufficiently wide-angle to see the entire room. Further, it must be constantly scanning while the porn is being viewed.

    Bets on whether those cameras will come with working off buttons, and whether they might just 'accidentally' keep scanning the room for anything illegal even when porn isn't being viewed?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2019 @ 11:45am

    Facial Recognition was my porn name!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Wyrm (profile), 31 Oct 2019 @ 12:05pm

    How to make the government drop the idea after implementation:

    • let people submit the picture of the prime minister (example) at the age validation check of as many sites as possible.
    • watch as hilarity ensues when the prime minister is revealed to visit all known adult sites.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2019 @ 12:12pm

      Re:

      let people submit the picture of the prime minister

      Well, you can't expect the bureaucrats to have thought of everything, like the novel idea that one person could posess a picture of another. Possibly even without that person's knowledge.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2019 @ 12:46pm

    who is or isn't watching porn

    That's easy: Everyone is. What I worry about is that now they'll know WHAT porn we watch.

    So, Mr Smith... it says here you are turned on by 'images of furries in chastity belts'...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 31 Oct 2019 @ 12:48pm

    I wonder..

    "Under the proposal from the Department of Home Affairs, a computer user’s face would be matched to images from official identity documents. It does not say how the user would submit a facial image at the beginning of each online session."

    Drivers license and ID cards, and just register for it..BUT what site is going to do that?
    Dad, come here, let me take your picture..

    Also, its a great way to get every ones pictures.. remember, they monitor the Servers and modem ID over there..(if implemented yet)

    Lets understand something here...
    TEENAGER..
    HORMONES FROM HELL..
    What to do... you cant go out and Rape a girl. And you may not have a willing girl friend...On the Pill(regulated), or take a chance to have a kid in your teens..
    Do you think the Girl will take the chance?? That YOU WILL MARRY HER?>?>????

    How many religions WANT you to be married and have sex and children at a young age??(even after science found that human women are having a hard time giving Birth, in the last few hundred years)

    GET ON WITH SOME LOGIC YOU IDIOTS, let the kid do it in the bed room by themselves... Im not running around looking for a gay friend or a Girl with a good hand..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2019 @ 1:02pm

    The market for masks of the faces of Australian members of parliament just opened up wide!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2019 @ 1:54pm

    And expect VPN usage in Australia to sckyrocket if this goes through

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2019 @ 2:00pm

    Between this, and the enviro-loonies belief that streaming, both legal and illegal, are contributing to global warming, I think the VPN business is a good business to get into right now, if you have to the starting capital to do it.

    Whether it is Australia wanting to restrict access to porn or enviromentalists wanting to find some way to block or restrict streaming, both legal and illegal, I see a big boom in the VPN business coming, as people will use VPNs to hide either streaming, or watching porn.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ron Currier (profile), 31 Oct 2019 @ 2:10pm

    responsible parenting?

    Isn't that what nannies are for?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2019 @ 2:24pm

    "It's not clear how many times we need to go through this before governments realize that restricting access to internet porn on any meaningful scale is not only impossible given technical countermeasures like proxies or VPNs, it usually results in more problems than it causes"

    You got that right. Like I said in another comment, between this, and environmentalists wanting to block or restrict streaming sites, both legal and illegal, because they say it contributes to global warming, I see the a coming boom in the VPN business, and why you need to get into the VPN business now, if you have the capital for it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2019 @ 2:50pm

    Wankers

    Seriously I am not sure if we have too many wankers in the government or not enough.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JdL (profile), 31 Oct 2019 @ 2:55pm

    ...a little thing called responsible parenting.

    Which, in my opinion, would realize that a teen wanting (and, I hardly need add, getting) access to porn is nothing to scream about. And nothing to get all Big-Brother-I'm-Looking-Over-Your-Shoulder about.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2019 @ 4:51pm

    The darkness below

    these servers are nothing but porn!
    -parliament servers

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2019 @ 4:59pm

    oh so that’s why Scott Morrison hates technology...
    -continued

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2019 @ 10:20pm

    Do they want my face before I buy porn, DURING the porn or afterwards?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 1 Nov 2019 @ 2:58am

    This kind of facial recognition?

    https://www.zdnet.com/article/samsung-galaxy-s10-facial-recognition-fooled-by-a-video-o f-the-phone-owner/

    The only fun part of this being implemented would be seeing how many creative ways people come up with fooling the system before the government accepts it's a pointless idea.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 1 Nov 2019 @ 11:04am

      Re:

      use your cellphone and take a picture of your parents...DUH!!
      Hold it up closer and closer until it triggers..
      ANd the odds are, that most Kids, tend to look abit like their parents..Just get a bald cap..

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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