Australia the reward foundation

Australia is strongly committed to protecting children from the harms associated with age-inappropriate content.  The Government is bolstering this commitment with a range of complimentary regulatory and policy measures, contained in the newly reformed Online Safety Act 2021.

The Act will be implemented on January 23, 2022. The technology industry will be required to register their Codes and standards by July, 2022. These include methods for managing pornographic and/or sexually explicit material, and measures for educating parents and responsible adults, on how to supervise and control children’s access to material provided on the internet.

Office of the eSafety Commissioner

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner is leading the development of a mandatory age verification implementation roadmap for online pornography. This supports recommendations from the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs inquiry into age verification for online wagering and online pornography. It will seek to balance the right policy, regulatory and technical settings, as appropriate for the Australian environment.

eSafety recently issued a “call for evidence,” which closed in September 2021. The Reward Foundation contributed evidence to that call.

eSafety is due to report to government with the Age Verification implementation roadmap by December 2022.  Government will then decide whether to take the Age Verification roadmap forward.

How might enforcement of age verification work in Australia?

eSafety is undertaking a multi-layered and collaborative approach to identifying what constitutes a proportionate, effective and feasible age verification regime for online pornography. Any regime would involve technical and non-technical measures, and would consider the need for interoperability and consistency across jurisdictions.

  • A further public call for evidence will assist eSafety to gather evidence of the issues and potential solutions
  • A subsequent consultation process with key stakeholders including the adult, Age Verification and digital platform and service industries, and academia, will assist to refine the direction and elements of the Age Verification regime
  • The final stage will involve working closely with key stakeholders to define the technical and non-technical elements, of the proposed Age Verification regime for online pornography. This will include proposing principles, minimum requirements and technical standards, and education and prevention measures. Operational considerations and implementation timeframes will also be identified.

So, what are the potential Risks & Impediments for this process?

  • Increased public awareness of Age Verification technologies is critical to addressing privacy and security concerns held regarding user data. eSafety is committed to proposing the most safety, security and privacy-preserving technological solution, as well as respecting children’s digital rights.
  • Any Australian Age Verification regime will need to actively consider international legislation and developments. Harmonised approaches are considered key to success.
  • Most online platforms, services and pornography websites accessed by Australians are headquartered overseas. This may present challenges in compliance and enforcement. eSafety is committed to close engagement with industry to ensure any proposed regime is proportionate and feasible and supports organisations to deliver on their online safety commitments as well as effectively manage access to age-restricted content.

Public support for age verification?

eSafety surveyed Australian adults in 2021. They found broad support for Age Verification to protect children, although some concerns were raised.

  • the benefits of age verification are well recognised, particularly in providing safeguards and assurances for children. However, there was ambivalence and scepticism on how the technology would work in practice and the privacy of data
  • there was low awareness of Age Verification technology, both conceptually and in practice
  • the government was seen as best placed to oversee an age verification regime


  • Several elements are necessary for an Age Verification regime to be effective. They include greater public knowledge and awareness of age verification and assurance technologies. This includes how they work and how they would be used in practice. What mandatory security and privacy-preserving measures would be in place, to ensure both adult and children’s digital rights were respected?