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Online porn age verification put off despite concern

The government has deferred action on a pilot program to verify a user's age to access online pornography, despite concerns about the impacts on children.



The federal government has decided against compelling online users to verify their age on pornography sites, sparking concerns it could make it easier for children to access adult material.


Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said the government sought further advice on preventing child exploitation after a report did not recommend legislating technology to verify ages to access online porn.


Stakeholders had raised concerns about the effectiveness, privacy and security of the technology.


The eSafety commissioner recommended a pilot program of age assurance technology, but the minister said she was seeking more information.


Opposition communications spokesman David Coleman said the government had failed to act on the recommendation 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," Mr Coleman said.


He said age verification technology would stop children from accessing damaging and dangerous material, including content relating to self-harm. 


Ms Rowland said the government was preventing harm to children by putting money towards delivering respectful relationships education, establishing a consent and sexual assault prevention campaign, and initiatives to prevent violence against women and children. 


She said the government would work with the commissioner to ensure there were robust online safety laws, including the development of an industry code to have sites put in safeguards to prevent children from accessing pornography.

"The digital industry is on notice that we will not hesitate to take further action should it fail to keep children safe," Ms Rowland said. 


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