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Australia Gives The Internet 6 Months To Draft Age Verification Code

ADH Staff WriterJuly 3, 2024

Australia has issued a six-month ultimatum to the internet industry to establish an enforceable code aimed at preventing children from accessing pornography and other inappropriate content online. Failure to do so will result in a code being imposed by the government, the eSafety Commissioner announced on Tuesday.

The eSafety Commissioner has contacted online industry members, requesting a detailed plan by October 3 on how they intend to protect minors from high-impact material, which includes themes of suicide and eating disorders.

This code is expected to set standards for various online platforms, including app stores, pornography and dating websites, search engines, social media platforms, chat services, and multi-player gaming platforms, ensuring that content is suitable for users, according to the commissioner.

“Kids’ exposure to violent and extreme pornography is a major concern for many parents and carers, and they have a key role to play,” stated Commissioner Julie Inman Grant in a release. “But it can’t all be on them. We also need industry to play their part by putting in some effective barriers.”

This initiative represents the second phase of industry codes overseen by the regulator, which has already endorsed codes addressing how internet companies prevent the spread of terrorism or child sexual exploitation content.

Possible measures covered by the new code to protect children from pornography could include age verification, default parental controls, and software that blurs or filters unwanted sexual content, the regulator noted.

Google, a unit of Alphabet, stated its commitment to working closely with the industry on the new code. Similarly, a spokesperson for Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, said the company would continue to engage constructively with the eSafety commissioner.

Representatives from X (formerly Twitter) and app store provider Apple did not respond for comment.

DIGI, an industry body that includes most large internet companies and worked on the first round of codes, expressed its eagerness to continue its engagement with the government and the eSafety commissioner.

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