In their long awaited response to the Roadmap for Age Verification, the Labor government has ignored child advocates and chosen to prioritise privacy for pornographers over protection for children.
Wendy Francis, National Director of Politics for the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) said, “This is a serious blow to the wellbeing of our nation’s children. The priorities of this government seem very twisted. Whilst they promotes legislation to censor online posts in their Misinformation/ Disinformation bill, they can’t find it in their willpower to do what they can to protect young children online.
It’s also a slap in the face to democracy as the committee process and recommendations are once again, completely ignored. The bi-partisan report on the introduction of Age-Verification laws, ‘Protecting the Age of Innocence’, presented to parliament in February 2020, stated, ‘Based on the evidence to the inquiry, it is the Committee’s strong view that age verification should be pursued as a measure to limit children and young people’s exposure to online pornography. An effective age-verification regime will create a significant barrier to prevent young people—and particularly young children—from deliberately or, perhaps even more importantly, inadvertently, gaining access to pornographic material. The Committee is concerned to see this issue addressed as quickly as possible’.
Australians deserve an explanation as to why the Government has declined to introduce reforms that, three years ago, were recommended by their colleagues as urgently needed to protect young children. The technology is readily available. Australia already uses it to stop young children from online gambling. It has the potential to also protect children from online predators, targeting them with pornographic images.”
Francis concluded, “Who are the government protecting in their decision not to make people prove they are old enough to watch pornography?”
The ACL will continue to lobby for age-verification laws similar to the UK, France and a number of US States who have shown they are serious about protecting innocent children.