Why is online age verification crucial? Why does it need to be mandatory for certain web content, as already proposed in the Canadian Senate and House of Commons? Is it technologically viable?
Join us for this panel discussion, moderated by doctoral candidate Azfar Adib, to know more, as we engage in a conversation with the lawmakers, social activists, and engineering researchers leading this arena. Panelists Senator Julie Miville Dechêne, MP Arnold Viersen, Nima Karimian, PhD, and Penny Rankin will discuss the need for mandatory age verification, particularly to safeguard kids from online harm, along with its technological feasibility.
How can you participate? Join us in person or online by registering for the Zoom Meeting or watching live on YouTube.
Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne was appointed to the Senate in June 2018 after a successful career in the public service sector. She spent 25 years working as a reporter and foreign correspondent for Radio-Canada. In 2007, she became the first woman ombudsman of Radio-Canada. In 2011, she was named Chair of the Quebec government’s Conseil du statut de la femme. Since her appointment, Senator Miville-Dechêne has introduced two Senate public bills: Bill S-211, a bill against forced labor and child labor in supply chains; and Bill S-210 which would require the implementation of age verification methods to protect minors from exposure to online pornography. She is also vice-chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications and Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group to End Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking.
MP Arnold Viersen
MP Arnold Viersen has been constantly advocating for meaningful age verification, opt-in tools, and education for parents and youth across Canada. In October 2015, he was elected as the Conservative Member of Parliament for Peace River—Westlock in Alberta. As a member of the Official Opposition, MP Viersen has been passionate about protecting the rights and concerns of rural families, farms, and industries in Alberta and across Canada. He has been an active member in several Parliamentary caucuses dealing with key issues. In March 2016, he introduced Motion M-47, which instructed the Health Committee to examine the public health effects caused by the easy online accessibility of violent and degrading sexually explicit material, impacting children, women, and men. On December 8, 2016, Motion M-47 was unanimously adopted by the House of Commons. In 2018, MP Viersen launched the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) to End Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking. He serves as one of its four co-chairs. In May 2021, he introduced the Stopping Internet Sexual Exploitation Act (SISE), which would require the verification of the age and consent of each person portrayed in pornographic material made for a commercial purpose. prior to creation and distribution. He was actively involved in the Pornhub study by the Standing Committee on Ethics, and strongly advocates the implementation of all 14 recommendations there. MP Viersen has been continuously working across party lines, uniting all parliamentarians, to raise awareness about the severe harms of pornography and the companies that profit off exploitation and abuse.
Dr. Nima Karimian
Dr. Nima Karimian is currently an Assistant Professor at the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering (LCSEE) at West Virginia University. Before joining there, he was an Assistant Professor in the Computer Engineering Department at San José State University(SJSU). Dr. Karimian obtained his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Connecticut (UConn) in 2018, a Master's degree from UConn in 2016, and a B.S. degree from the Babol Noshirvani University of Technology in Iran in 2011. Dr. Karimian has been actively involved in projects related to biometrics security and applied machine learning in cybersecurity. He has authored several journal articles and peer-reviewed conference papers on this. He was a recipient of several best paper awards, such as the Best Student Paper Award at the International Joint Conference on Biometrics . He received Faculty Excellence in Scholarship Award from SJSU in 2021. His projects are sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and its associated platforms. He has served on the organizing and technical program committees of several leading events in this arena such as the “Silicon Valley Cybersecurity Conference”. He is also serving as an associate editor for the Discover Internet of Things (DIoT) Journal.
Penny Rankin is the Past-President of the Montreal Council of Women, VP with the Provincial Council of Women (PCWQ), as well as the Chair/Convenor responsible for Children and Youth with the National Council of Women of Canada. In spring 2022, her work on age verification was adopted as policy for the International Council of Women, consisting of 70 country members. In 2020 she co-founded “Canadians4Action”- an informal collective of NGOs and professionals from across Canada dedicated to raising awareness and advocating for legislation directed at protecting children from online abuse and exploitation. She also sits on the Sexual Exploitation Working Group of the Canadian Council of Churches and is its spokesperson on Human Trafficking. She began her eclectic career path in the UK, where, having completed her studies in Early Childhood Education she made a radical career shift to the world of marketing and advertising as a columnist for the 70’s trade magazine Media World. She also worked in marketing with London Broadcasting before joining Downton Advertising/Saatchi and Saatchi. Upon returning to Canada (and to teaching), she volunteered with and has sat on several non-profit boards including Les Amies du Neuro, as well as serving as the Executive Director of an inner-city mission.
Azfar Adib is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Concordia University. His doctoral research is focused on anonymous age verification, on which he also has been regularly writing and speaking to create general awareness. Azfar holds a BSc in Electrical Engineering and an MBA, followed by a professional experience of over 8 years in the ICT industry. Azfar is passionate about empowering people toward excellence through different endeavors.