Recommendation 21 Research Paper: The Queensland Government has developed a research paper on social media and identity verification in response to Recommendation 21 of the Taskforce Report.

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned Report

Abstract

This paper presents a review of the literature pertaining to recommendation 21 of the Queensland Anti-Cyberbullying Taskforce Report, which reads:
“The Taskforce recommends the Queensland Government, individually and/or in collaboration with the Commonwealth Government and other state and territory governments, undertake or commission research into the efficacy of requiring social media companies to implement identity verification.”
Several countries have started to develop regulations requiring age verification in order to access online pornography or engage in online wagering. While age verification is not identity verification, similar problems could be experienced in efforts to introduce either. However, it is important to note that age verification is markedly different to identity verification. Age verification has benefits in helping to stop children from stumbling across or accessing pornography online, or from engaging in online wagering, but will only have a limited impact upon cyberbullying. This is because it does not address the underlying issues often used to perpetrate cyberbullying – the creation of fake accounts.
Some countries around the world, such as India and Brazil, have started to consider legislation aimed at requiring identity verification by social media. China already has very strict controls over all media, including social media, which encompass identity verification requirements. A real name verification system was implemented, and eventually ruled unconstitutional, in South Korea between 2007 and 2012. Few of the social media companies appear to have initiated any identify verification policies: Facebook has recently announced that viral posts from unverified accounts will have limited reach; and Twitter has a (currently suspended) verification system that Twitter users of public interest could previously apply for by submitting identity documents.
Several options exist for online identity verification, such as through a third-party provider, a government agency, or by the social media provider itself.
From the material examined, it is considered both technologically and procedurally possible for social media companies to implement identity verification. As the regulation of the internet is generally a Federal Government responsibility under the Constitution of Australia, it is considered that ultimately a national focus would be needed to ensure that telecommunication firms deny service to any companies not complying with regulations.
The findings of this paper in relation to identity verification are in alignment with the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs report tabled in March 2020 titled Protecting the age of innocence: Report of the inquiry into age verification for online wagering and online pornography in relation to age verification.
This paper concludes that a national focus would be needed to advance the issue of identity verification. The Queensland Government could advocate for the Federal Government to direct and adequately resource the eSafety Commissioner to develop a roadmap to examine the implementation of mandatory online identity verification for social media. It is also considered that the eSafety Commissioner could consult with the Federal Government Digital Transformation Agency in relation to the development of appropriate technical standards for identity verification and an identity verification exchange.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBrisbane QLD Australia
PublisherQueensland Government
Commissioning bodyDepartment of the Premier and Cabinet (Queensland)
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020

Keywords

  • social media
  • identity verification
  • cyberbullying

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