Big Brother is watching you watching porn

Australian proposals for facial recognition on porn sites are creepy and authoritarian.

Tarric Brooker

There has been much talk about the growing encroachment on civil liberties and privacy in Britain and the United States. But in recent years Australia has been putting some of its Western rivals to shame with the invasiveness of its policies.

Under a proposal recently put forward by Peter Dutton’s Department of Home Affairs, Australians would be subject to a facial-recognition scan in order to access porn sites.

This would likely entail the camera on the viewer’s phone, laptop or desktop snapping an image to be sent to government servers for verification. A potential viewer’s photo would then be cross-checked against a national database of images taken from drivers licenses and passport photos.

This proposal is supposedly aimed at addressing concerns about children accessing porn. The idea is that while other age-verification schemes – such as those recently pursued and then abandoned in Britain – could be circumvented relatively easily, this one would help ensure children are ‘safe’ online.

Nevertheless, academics have warned that the success of age-verification schemes has been limited everywhere they have been tried – with people using various online tools to get around the system.

More importantly, these schemes are a gross invasion of privacy. In Australia, these sinister proposals are just the latest in a long line. The porn age-verification idea was intended to be part of a broader government plan that would allow government agencies, telecoms companies and banks to use facial-recognition technology.

It was recently reported that a number of schools were trialling facial-recognition software. Part-funded by the federal government, these schemes used methods first developed in China to monitor students.

Though there has been significant public and political backlash to all this, Australia is still heading down a worrying road – one that risks undermining our reputation as a laid-back, freedom-loving place.

If Peter Dutton got his way, Big Brother wouldn’t just be watching you, he’d be watching you watching porn. That’s a terrifying prospect on every level.

Tarric Brooker is a journalist.

Picture by: Getty.

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Comments

IAN WALMSLEY

29th November 2019 at 9:40 pm

Well, Australia now has more CCTV cameras than ever trained on everyone, with who knows how many snivelling wankers reviewing the footage of little kids in shopping centres or supermarkets or even on the streets? Are these wankers ever checked out by the Authorities, or does a Security License grant immunity from prosecution? Privacy doesn’t exist here anymore, so what does it matter if Big Government wants to view you in your own home? It’s just a natural progression for a paranoid Minister and Government. This is typical Government woolly headed thinking. “We can’t control the actual crime, so we’ll control the masses of whom a very small percentage are complicit in that crime”. Meanwhile, the crime of child porn continues.
Child porn is abhorrent, as any decent thinking human being would agree. To restrict a free nation from accessing adult porn and keeping records of who does it opens up the question of privacy again. How many times have we heard of Government databases being hacked? The recent hacking of our medical records is a case in point. This, despite the Health Minister guaranteeing a “Military Grade” security! So, naturally, if it is found out that you watch adult porn sites, what ramifications does that have for your employment or social status? A lot of people watch adult porn but will never admit to it.
The only way this proposal should be allowed is to release all the metadata from all the computers in Parliament in Canberra from the last ten years so we can judge who is fit to lead us in future. No one would have time to look at porn there would they?

John Reed

27th November 2019 at 9:36 pm

Both the liberal left and the libertarian right are full of shit when it comes to porn. Since when has it been a right for predatory capitalist companies to peddle smut to kids? Or for men to wank off to anything they like? As usual, zero concern here for the countless trafficked women (and men, and children) fed into this multi-billion dollar machine, or the ever-increasing victims of revenge porn.

Unfortunately, this argument is now left to fundamentalist Christians and radical feminists – both of which have ideologies so problematic no one listens to them. Literally everyone else – right, left, even most feminists – have developed this weird idea that a global sex industry run by oligarchic web companies must be completely untrammelled in the name of ‘civil liberties’. Fucking crazy.

James Knight

26th November 2019 at 10:32 am

There have been recent cases in the UK of schools placing cameras in toilets, to the outrage of many parents. There are some serious creeps out there who need investigating. Many seem to be in positions of authority.

Jim Lawrie

26th November 2019 at 9:34 am

Technically this scheme cannot succeed in its stated aims. It is about establishing the right to do this, while hiding behind children to shield themselves from criticism.
It will make online activity admissible as evidence as if it were unshakeable and unfakeable.
Accessing an alt-right site will convict someone of wrong thinking and criminal activity.

John Reic

26th November 2019 at 9:03 am

Sorry can’t help but laugh at a what a face would be recorded as if a blokes watching porn all tense and gritted teeth

Philip Humphrey

26th November 2019 at 8:06 am

As with be aborted UK law on age verification it’s difficult to see how they could enforce it without banning VPNs. And doing the latter would be a major problem because VPNs have many other valuable uses (such as enabling you to protect private information on public networks).

steve moxon

28th November 2019 at 1:21 am

Yes, it shows just how useless are politicians and civil servants: a ten-minute brainstorm session would have revealed the issue with VPN. Of course, it could have been one of those kite-flying exercises, that is put up recklessly on the belief that it’s good PR just to be seen to be trying to do something, but that only works if how they’re shot down puts you in a good light. Looking an idiot in somehow not knowing that obviously there’s no chance of being able to deliver defeats that. the government ends up betraying its own deep cynicism as well as idiocy.

Stephen J

26th November 2019 at 8:03 am

I not sure who are the biggest w*nkers here?

Ven Oods

26th November 2019 at 8:43 pm

That would be the politicians, since they’re wanky at work, too.

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