Australia’s eSafety Commissioner will today commence consultation with industry, stakeholder groups and experts on a potential age verification system that would better protect children from online pornography.
The work will inform a “roadmap” on age verification due to be presented to the Government in 2022 and will align with a separate but related process: a month-long public consultation on updates to Australia’s restricted access system (RAS) declaration, which has been helping to protect Australian children from exposure to inappropriate content since 2007.
The consultation on changes to the RAS will focus on technological developments since 2007 and will apply to services provided from Australia, and services hosting material in Australia.
Australia’s eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said an age verification roadmap and updates to the RAS are intended to better shield children from online content they are not mentally, emotionally, or developmentally ready for.
“Inappropriate content like violent or extreme pornography that young children may encounter by accident can be distressing and even harmful, while for older children who may seek out this material, the risk is that it will give them unrealistic and potentially damaging ideas about what intimate relationships should look like,” she said.
“Age verification, as overseas experience has shown, is a complex issue, so it is important that all sections of the community are able to be heard.
”We will take a considered, evidence-based approach that takes into account feedback from industry, stakeholders, experts and the public, to find workable solutions.”
Ms Inman Grant said that no one measure taken in isolation will be a silver bullet in addressing this problem, but believes the combination of a suite of protective measures can provide a powerful defence for children when it comes to exposure to inappropriate content online.
Updates to the restricted access system declaration will require services to place R18+ material behind a restricted access system so it can’t be accessed by children. Such a ”system” can be, for example, a gateway requiring the viewer to state they are aged over 18.
This is a remedial measure and a direction by the eSafety Commissioner requiring a service to place such content behind a restricted access system is intended as an alternative to removal.
See more on the Age Verification call for evidence
See more on the Restricted Access System call for submissions