Australia Post floats QR scanning or mobile number entry alongside its digital ID to watch porn online

The government-owned entity says its digital identification service could be used to verify if an individual is old enough to view pornographic material.

Australia Post has entered the conversation about how the nation should go about verifying the age of an individual before allowing them to watch pornographic material online or participate in online wagering, putting forward its own digital identity solution as a suggestion.

In a submission [PDF] to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs' inquiry, launched in September, the postal service promoted its digital identity play "Digital iD" as providing a suitable option for verification, as it gives an individual a "Keypass" that could also be coupled by a second layer of authentication.

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"To prove their age, the individual could either scan a QR code or enter their mobile number into the relying party's website," Australia Post wrote.

"A notification on their mobile device would then prompt the individual to consent to share required personal details with the relying party. For example, an individual may be requested to share their name and date of birth, or an 18+ status only (to confirm they are over 18 years of age)."

Once the individual provides their consent to share their requested details, Australia Post said the relying party then receives the information from the digital ID service by way of a token.

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According to Australia Post, the relying party specifies the information it requires to verify identity and/or age. However, it said the individual can choose whether they share the requested information.

"By allowing the individual to control the information they share, an individual's privacy is protected and can in some circumstances allow anonymity," the submission said. "This also assists in restricting the sharing of personal information in circumstances where it may not be necessary to capture additional personal details other than those required to prove an individual's age."

Australia Post used its submission to expand on how its digital identification play works.

"When an individual creates a Digital iD a pair of digital security 'keys' is generated. One key is stored on the individual's mobile device and the other by Australia Post's Digital iD platform. When a business or government agency that is a relying party requests verified details, the individual must first unlock their Digital iD app with a 6-digit security PIN or biometric authentication (such as Face ID or thumb print)," it wrote.

"The individual is then prompted to share the specific information requested by the relying party, by asking for the individual's consent to share the data."

AusPost in July received "trusted identity service provider" accreditation for its digital identity solution from the federal government. It's the second of two accredited identity providers, with the first being myGovID, handled by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

"The introduction of Australia Post as a second identity provider into the digital identity system is one of the foundational steps needed for the system to develop into a true whole of economy solution," Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert said in announcing the postal service that wants to run elections on blockchain-based technology had scored accreditation.

The Australia Post Digital ID was officially launched in 2017. There are a handful of services that accept the identification platform, such as bitcoin.com.au, Coinjar, Airtasker, and Credit Union Australia.

Australia Post's Digital ID is currently approved for use in Victoria, the Northern Territory, Queensland, Tasmania, and the Australian Capital Territory.

In Victoria, locals can use the Digital ID as a proof-of-age card to enter a pub, using an on-screen animation that prevents replication and creates a temporary QR code that can be scanned to verify age.

People in the Northern Territory cannot use it to purchase takeaway alcohol, however.

The Department of Home Affairs has floated using its Face Verification Service and Document Verification Service to verify an individual's age before allowing them access to online pornographic material. The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), meanwhile, agrees with Australia Post in that the Australian government's digital identity play would instead be a valuable tool to do the same, but Australia's eSafety Commissioner says there is no "out of the box technology solutions" that will solve this issue and therefore believes age verification should not be seen as a panacea.

eSafety said in its submission to the inquiry earlier this month that technical interventions will never be able to completely eliminate the risk of children being exposed to online pornography, and it will certainly not prepare children to interpret and understand online pornography once they reach adulthood.

"eSafety considers that risk and harms will more effectively be minimised through a combination and layering of technological solutions and other responses which includes education," the office wrote.

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