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Australian Government responds to Age Verification Roadmap

Rules and regulations book. Law, rules and regulations concept.

The Australian government has released its long-anticipated response to the “Roadmap for Age Verification,” a comprehensive document addressing age verification challenges in various industries, particularly those involving online services and content. This response represents a significant step forward in ensuring the safety and protection of minors online.

The roadmap, which hwas initially proposed by the eSafety Commissioner, aims to establish robust mechanisms for age verification across digital platforms and services. It recognises the increasing need to protect young Australians from age-inappropriate content, including explicit material, gambling websites, and social media platforms.

One of the key highlights of the government’s response is its commitment to developing a national framework for age verification. This framework will set the standards and guidelines for digital platforms to verify the age of their users, particularly those accessing age-restricted content or services. By establishing a standardised approach, the government aims to create a safer online environment for minors while reducing the burden on businesses to develop their own verification methods.

Furthermore, the response emphasises the importance of collaboration between the government, industry stakeholders, and the community. It recognises that effective age verification solutions require input and cooperation from various sectors, including technology companies, content providers, and advocacy groups. This collaborative approach ensures that the implemented measures are not only effective but also considerate of the diverse needs of different industries and user groups.

The government’s ultimate goal is to introduce industry codes to shape the online industry and protect children from harm. The first tranche of codes will be developed by the eSafety Commissioner and will roll out from 16 December 2023. This code will be released in two phases, the first addressing content that would be refused classification in Australia, such as terrorism and child sexual exploitation material, and the second addressing legal content that is not appropriate to children, such as pornography.

2024 will also see the independent statutory review of the existing Online Safety Act to ensure the legislation suits the current climate and continues to be fit for purpose.

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