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LOS ANGELES — Taking a page from ongoing discussions in the U.K., Australia is considering an expansion of its Face Verification Service, primarily used by government entities, for online age verification (AV).

The Australian AV initiative, which XBIZ reported on, invited public comment.

The expansion proposal came in the form of one of the submitted public comments to a channel that collected well over 100 remarks, mostly from individuals, anti-porn church groups and industry stakeholders — and, in this case, a government body adding its voice to the discussion, the Department of Home Affairs.

In its comments, Home Affairs, which is responsible for Australia’s National Identity Security Strategy, noted that it can provide the necessary “relevant national guidelines and technical services” to implement AV protocols.

Home Affairs is encouraging the adoption of these guidelines across the Australian economy and is making available a range of identity matching services to help organizations verify the identity of customers, such as its Document Verification Service, which matches personal information on an identity document with the original record, including Australian passports, driver’s licenses and birth certificates — over 48 million lookups were performed in the past year through a system that has also been available for use by businesses since 2014.

The aspect of the Home Affairs proposal that is causing an uproar, however, is its nascent Face Verification Service, which “matches a person’s photo against images used on one of their evidence of identity documents.” While the facial recognition program has been in use since at least 2016, its expansion to cover porn peepers is causing grimaces among privacy advocates, yet the government believes it will be effective at preventing minors from accessing adult-oriented materials online.