Public perceptions of age verification for limiting access to pornography

This research summary highlights the awareness and acceptance of online age verification (AV) systems among adults in Australia to prevent children's access to online pornography.

In early 2021, eSafety conducted an online survey of 1,200 adults living in Australia, to better understand people's awareness and acceptance of these technologies for preventing children's access to online pornography. 

Due to the increase investment in developing a range of effective online AV systems over the last five years, there is now a broad suite of technologies which exist to support business and platforms in controlling sales and/or access to age-restricted goods and services. 

This survey provides foundation data to inform the development of eSafety's AV roadmap. It explores:

  • adult internet usage, frequency and habits
  • the general community’s awareness, understanding and expectations of age verification technologies
  • perceived benefits and barriers to age verification solutions (which verify a minimum age to access online pornography)
  • expectations if the Australian government were to implement such measures.


Key findings

Need for greater online safety capabilities: confidence to use online technologies was greater than confidence to remain safe on them.

Low awareness: the general community was very unfamiliar with ‘age verification’ conceptually and in practice.

Broad support but with some scepticism: the benefits of age verification are well recognised, particularly in providing safeguards and assurances for children. However, there was ambivalence and scepticism on how the technology would work in practice.

Must work, must be secure: the government was considered best placed to process personal information as part of an any age verification solution, ensure data was secure and guarantee that the system worked in practice.

More communication and education is required to build knowledge and awareness of:

  • the concept of ‘age verification’
  • the broad range of methods and types of technologies available (in addition to conventional in-person identity materials) 
  • effectiveness of age verification tools 
  • what makes a safe, secure and privacy-preserving tool for ensuring online pornography remains accessible to adults only.