Australian government rejects advice to make it harder for kids to access online porn

Despite e-Safety Commissioner's recommendations, concerns over privacy and effectiveness halt action.

Australian government rejects advice to make it harder for kids to access online porn
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The Albanese government, determined to stop misinformation and disinformation online, has said it will not take action to stop children accessing pornography online.

The federal government has said it will not force pornographic websites to use age restriction technology to prevent access by minors.

This is despite the e-Safety Commissioner recommended a trial of the technology.

It is also despite a report from the Commissioner who found that of 75 per cent of 16-18-year-olds who had seen online pornography, almost half had first encountered it when they were between 13 and 15.

Opposition communications spokesman David Coleman slammed the Government for failing to protect children.

“Every day, thousands of children access pornography online (and) as the eSafety commissioner's report notes, this can have very damaging impacts,” he said.

He said age verification technology would stop children from accessing damaging and dangerous material.

But the government's response to the e-Safety Commission's report raised concerns about the effectiveness, privacy and security of the technology.

Concerns included that the privacy of adult porn users might be compromised by use of the technology and a desire not to impose any “undue burden” on the porn industry.

The Commissioner’s report also found that LGBTQ children used online porn to learn about sex since. If age restrictions were applied, these children would struggle to find places to learn.

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said that instead of forcing pornographers to safeguard children, the Albanese government would require the porn industry to develop a code of practice.

She said the government was already preventing harm to children by financing respectful relationships education, establishing a consent and sexual assault prevention campaign and initiatives to prevent violence against women and children.

“The digital industry is on notice that we will not hesitate to take further action should it fail to keep children safe,” Rowland said after announcing the government would not take any action on the e-Safety Commissioner’s key recommendation.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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