Is facial recognition technology the answer to the online gambling industry’s challenges with age and identity verification? That’s a question that was asked recently by the Australian Department of Home Affairs.

Officials are considering exactly that sort of plan but, not surprisingly, there are privacy issues that need to be considered before any online gambling operator can even consider using facial recognition technology on its customers. On its face, however, the idea is pretty straightforward; government agencies would take existing photo databases (passport photos, driver’s license photos, etc…) and use them as the basis for a facial recognition schema that identifies players and self-excluded gamblers.

Department of Home Affairs officials say the idea of using facial recognition technology on gambling website could also be extended to prevent self-excluded problem gamblers from online gambling. But it doesn’t stop there. They’ve also suggested that the technology could be used to prevent underage Aussies from accessing the internet’s most copious resource, pornography. And that’s the challenge with using facial recognition technology for anything at all – where does it end?

It’s a question that’s yet to be answered and it’s also the reason why other countries that have had similar ideas for using facial recognition technology for age verification have backed off. A similar proposal in the United Kingdom was scrapped after privacy and technological issues rendered it untenable.

As is often the case with the online gambling industry, the idea of using facial recognition technology on licensed gambling sites skates past the idea that this new use of technology would be a major boon to unregulated operators, who would certainly take advantage of the situation.

As of this writing, there are no plans to move forward with this idea.


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