The Australian Federal Government says it is considering if the Digital Transformation Agency’s (DTA) digital identity system could be used for age verification when accessing pornography in an effort to protect children from exposure to pornographic content.
The government’s comments come in response to a report on age verification for online pornography and wagering by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs, which closed its inquiry last year. The committee made a total of six recommendations to the Federal Government following the inquiry.
As part of the report, the committee requested that the DTA develop an age verification exchange that could be used for the purpose of verifying user ages on third-party websites, despite the eSafety Commissioner repeatedly asserting that age verification isn’t a “silver bullet” for protect kids from accessing porn.
In a lengthy response released on Tuesday, the Australian Government confirmed that it supports the idea of age verification in principle.
“Initially, the government’s priority will be to complete work underway that explores the potential for changes to the policy and accreditation framework … depending upon the findings of this work, further technical interventions may be required,” it wrote.
“If so, the government agrees that the Digital Transformation Agency is well placed to explore extending the digital identity program.”
Echoing the e-Safety Commissioner’s sentiment, the government recognised that technology and age verification may help, but is not a fix-all solution.
“While there are no simple solutions to any online safety issue, technologies, such as age verification, age assurance and age prediction, are developing at pace. If used in conjunction with filtering and other proactive user safety settings, they can play a role in limiting exposure to harmful content for children,” the government wrote.
“The Government also recognises that technological solutions alone will not stop all children from accessing online pornography or other age-inappropriate services. A multifaceted approach that includes parental engagement and education is vital to reduce the adverse effects of online pornography and other harmful content.”
“Online safety requires long-term, sustained social and cultural change, through the coordinated efforts of the global community, and greater collaboration and consultation between industry, government and the general public.”
Meanwhile, the government flagged the yet-to-be-passed Online Safety Act and the ACCC’s continued work on app store practices as the major initiatives that will satisfy the other recommendations made in the report.