Australian Government Proposes Facial Recognition For Online Gambling

Australian online casino users could soon have to verify their age via facial recognition according to reports.

The Department of Home Affairs has proposed using facial recognition technology for online age verification. This technology is set to be used for Australians wanting to access online gambling and pornography.

A document entitled Submission to the Inquiry into Age Verification for Online Wagering and Online Pornography highlights the proposals. Passages of the document read:

“Home Affairs has lead agency responsibility for the National Identity Security Strategy, which provides a framework for inter-governmental cooperation to strengthen Australia’s personal identification processes. Maintaining effective identity security is important given one in four Australians will be a victim of identity crime at some point in their lives. With an estimated annual direct cost of more than $2 billion to the economy. Home Affairs notes the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference have particular regard to policies and practices (including technical and privacy requirements) that relate to, and enable improved age verification requirements. Home Affairs also notes that the focus of this inquiry is not the legitimate use of online wagering and online pornography.”

Cobat continued, “Home Affairs is developing a Face Verification Service which matches a person’s photo against images used on one of their evidence of identity documents to help verify their identity. The Face Verification Service complements the Document Verification Service by preventing the use of stolen as well as fake identity information. This could assist in age verification. For example by preventing a minor from using their parent’s driver licence to circumvent age verification controls.”

Facial Recognition Tech Raises Concerns

While the government is making these proposals under the guise of protecting minors, people are sceptical. Some believe the real intention is to expand the use of facial recognition technology. This in turn would build a database of Australians’ internet gambling habits.

Facial Recognition technology exists today but it does provide false positives and show biases. The Department of Home Affairs revealed it wants facial recognition technology everywhere possible.

“Whilst they are primarily designed to prevent identity crime, Home Affairs would support the increased use of the Document and Face Verification Services across the Australian economy to strengthen age verification processes.”

Anthony Cabot, a Distinguished Fellow of Gaming Law, says there are other less intrusive methods of age verification. Cabot is also concerned about privacy laws.

“In the context of online gambling, the use of facial recognition is particularly effective. Especially where the scan can be compared to government databases such as drivers’ license photos or passports.”

What Other Methods Are There?

Cabot said gambling operations can access a patron’s credit records and have their identity confirmed via a series of questions. This allows the venue to ask personal questions only a legitimate user would know the answers to.