Online age check
TECHNOLOGY | One state mandates a digital ID for pornography websites
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The nation’s first state-approved digital ID app, Louisiana’s LA Wallet, is integral to a new law that aims to protect children from pornography. As of Jan. 1, a Louisiana state law requires pornographic websites to verify that visitors are over the age of 18 before allowing them access. If successful, the approach could spread to other states.
Following the passage of Louisiana Act 440 last year, Pornhub and its subsidiaries must now direct visitors with a Louisiana IP address to a third-party verification client, AllpassTrust, which prompts them to connect their LA Wallet ID. The law also allows verification through users’ “public or private transactional data,” but so far, sites complying with the law only offer verification through LA Wallet.
Tech experts have raised privacy concerns about the arrangement, but Pornhub—and the text of Act 440—says user data is not collected during the process and online activity cannot be traced.
Louisiana first approved LA Wallet’s digital driver’s licenses for official use in 2018. The app also hosts hunting, fishing, and gun licenses. Current data show LA Wallet has about 1.5 million users—just over 30 percent of the state’s population.
Tech firm tests self-driving cars on Beijing streets
Chinese tech giant Baidu and Toyota-backed startup Pony.ai on Dec. 30 received Beijing’s first licenses to test fully autonomous vehicles within the city. Both companies will test 10 driverless vehicles each—with no backup safety operators. Baidu already operates a robotaxi service in Wuhan and Chongqing, with 1.4 million driverless rides so far. If tests are successful, the companies plan to expand their commercial robotaxi services to Beijing. —E.R.
Digital eyes on the District
Washington, D.C., public housing resident Schyla Pondexter-Moore sued the city’s housing authority and police department in mid-December, claiming the city is engaging in intrusive surveillance. Pondexter-Moore has lived in the Highland Dwellings complex for 14 years. In 2017, she repeatedly denied entry to D.C. Housing Authority personnel as they attempted to install a surveillance camera just outside her home. On Jan. 31, 2018, a DCHA officer arrested Pondexter-Moore after she questioned workers. The officer allegedly handled Pondexter-Moore and her son roughly and said she “did not have any rights.” She and her son spent a night in jail while DCHA installed the cameras. Today, over 80 cameras with infrared and zoom functions cover the Highland Dwellings—some allegedly able to capture views inside private apartments—and DCHA shares the footage with D.C. police. —E.R.
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