Australian Government, Of All Places, Says Age Verification Is A Privacy & Security Nightmare

In the past I’ve sometimes described Australia as the land where internet policy is completely upside down. Rather than having a system that protects intermediaries from liability for third party content, Australia went the opposite direction. Rather than recognizing that a search engine merely links to content and isn’t responsible for the content at those links, Australia has said that search engines can be held liable for what they link to. Rather than protect the free expression of people on the internet who criticize the rich and powerful, Australia has extremely problematic defamation laws that result in regular SLAPP suits and suppression of speech. Rather than embrace encryption that protects everyone’s privacy and security, Australia requires companies to break encryption, insisting only criminals use it.

It’s basically been “bad internet policy central,” or the place where good internet policy goes to die.

And, yet, there are some lines that even Australia won’t cross. Specifically, the Australian eSafety commission says that it will not require adult websites to use age verification tools, because it would put the privacy and security of Australians’ data at risk. (For unclear reasons, the Guardian does not provide the underlying documents, so we’re fixing that and providing both the original roadmap and the Australian government’s response

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Of course, in France, the Data Protection authority released a paper similarly noting that age verification was a privacy and security nightmare… and the French government just went right on mandating the use of the technology. In Australia, the eSafety Commission pointed to the French concerns as a reason not to rush into the tech, meaning that Australia took the lessons from French data protection experts more seriously than the French government did.

And, of course, here in the US, the Congressional Research Service similarly found serious problems with age verification technology, but it hasn’t stopped Congress from releasing a whole bunch of “save the children” bills that are built on a foundation of age verification.

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Source: Australian Government, Of All Places, Says Age Verification Is A Privacy & Security Nightmare | Techdirt

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