On 1 June 2021, the Australian Government tabled its response to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs report, ‘Protecting the age of innocence’. The Government’s response indicated support for Recommendation 3, which called for the eSafety Commissioner to lead development of an implementation roadmap for a mandatory age verification regime for online pornography.
eSafety welcomes the Government’s response and commitment to protecting children from harmful online content. For young children, accidental encounters with pornography can be distressing and even harmful. For older children who stumble upon or seek out this ever more violent and extreme pornographic material, there is a risk that it will give them unrealistic and damaging ideas about what intimate relationships should look like.
eSafety recognises the need for extensive research and consultation to identify what a proportionate, effective, and feasible age verification system and infrastructure may look like when addressing children’s access to online pornography in an Australian context.
eSafety’s recommendations and options to Government will be informed by the advice of the Australian community – civil, academic, not-for-profit, and industry. eSafety will gather research, intelligence and information on the range and effectiveness of technologies and systems that assist in minimising children’s exposure to online pornography, as well as other measures that could support any age verification system. These include identified good practice in educating young people on pornography and respectful relationships, educating parents and carers on discussing pornography and related content (as well as reporting it), campaigns to educate the public on the intent and functionality of age verification technologies, and information on other effective technological measures (e.g. parental controls and device-level filtering) that prevent children’s access to pornography.
eSafety looks forward to working with other Government counterparts and to engaging with the wider Australian community in the development of the roadmap.
Please find eSafety’s submission to the age verification inquiry here: www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Social_Policy_and_Legal_Affairs/Onlineageverification/Submissions