Pornography: the State offers websites an age verification tool

Is the rearmament of institutions in the face of Internet sites prohibited to minors but which do not exercise this filtering on the right track? While various child protection associations have gone to the front on a legal level – without success for the moment – ​​it is on a technical level that a new attempt to compel them to their obligations is emerging.

On June 22, the National Commission for Computing and Liberties (Cnil) gave the green light to the distribution of an age control tool that it considers both effective and respectful of the privacy of Internet users. . For several months, the computer scientist Olivier Blazy, professor at the École Polytechnique, has been working on the subject with the Linc laboratory of the Cnil and the Center of Expertise in Digital Regulation (PEReN) of the government. They have together developed a prototype “digital lock” which has now been validated and which should serve as a reference for the sites.

Available free of charge

Resulting from public research, this tool will not be imposed on sites but made available to them free of charge. They therefore have a choice: either adopt it as is, in which case they will immediately be considered as complying with French law. Either acquire a specific tool, but which must then meet the same requirements.

“The idea is to propose guidelines. This prototype must become the reference: any other age control system that will ensure the same level of efficiency and anonymity will be validated. But the Cnil may also prohibit all solutions that would be less protective,” explains Olivier Blazy, according to whom this system has every chance of“clean up the ecosystem”.

Chances of changing the situation?

Does this innovation actually have a chance of changing the game? Senator Marie Mercier (LR), very invested in the subject, wants to believe it, and salutes “an interesting step forward” which corresponds to the will of the French. “As an elected official, I know that the people I meet in my constituency do not want free porn to remain accessible to minors”, she explains. The State is therefore fully in its role when it supports this type of research “which is another step in the right direction”.

This voluntarism has not escaped the anthropologist of digital uses Pascal Plantard either. For years, with other representatives of the social sciences grouped in the Marsouin research collective, he has been warning about the damage that freedom at all costs on the Internet causes on the mental health of young people or girl-boy relationships. “I am very proud that our voice is heard,” he greets, recalling that there is no fatality in accepting everything.

It’s up to us to say which Internet we want”

“Technology is only a tool at the service of societal choices, he argues. It is up to us to say which Internet we want and to continue to keep alive the European tradition, which is very different from the libertarianism of the American Internet. On this side of the Atlantic, the Internet has always been designed by public research from an educational perspective. It is therefore very important that a European technical system becomes the norm for these sites. »

However, some voices qualify the statement. Bastien Le Querrec, member of La Quadrature du Net, is one of those who sees flaws. “Of course, the proposed system is technically well done and is certainly the least liberticidal possible, but it supposes sacrificing anonymity on the Web. Do we measure all the consequences? », he asks. A question that could be assessed while taking into account the need for protection of the youngest now.

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Pornography: the State offers websites an age verification tool

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