Shadow Minister for Communications – Media Release – Tip for Rowland in European trip: Read s.12 of UK Online Safety Act, Minister Refuses to Implement Age Verification, But It’s Already Law in UK

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland has announced that she will be conducting an “important visit” to the UK and Europe this week, to attend a conference in Barcelona and meet with officials in the UK.

Hopefully the Minister will take the time to read s.12 of the United Kingdom’s Online Safety Act 2023 during her trip.

The section provides that online service providers have a duty to prevent children from accessing “primary priority content”. Section 61 of the Act defines “primary priority content” as pornographic content, material related to suicide and self-injury, and material related to eating disorders. Online service providers are required by law to use Age Verification technology to ensure that children do not access this material.

In Australia, the eSafety Commissioner advised Government to mandate a trial of Age Assurance technology in March last year. In August, the Government released the report and refused to implement the Commissioner’s recommendation.

Last week in Senate Estimates, the eSafety Commissioner said that the technology has improved even further since March, and there is no reason why her recommendation cannot be acted on. 50 of Australia’s top child and women’s safety experts have condemned the Minister’s decision on this issue.

Shadow Communications Minister David Coleman said that Minister Rowland’s failure on Age Verification was having very real consequences.

“Minister Rowland’s refusal to implement rules on Age Verification has been welcomed by the pornography industry, but condemned by Australia’s top experts on child safety,” Mr Coleman said.

“The Government’s top advisor wants a mandated trial of Age Assurance technologies. The UK has already legislated for Age Verification. But Minister Rowland won’t do it. It beggars belief that the

Minister won’t take this action to help protect the safety of Australian children online. The Minister should use her trip to the UK to work out that she made the wrong call on this issue, admit her mistake and implement the eSafety Commissioner’s clear recommendation.”

The UK Online Safety Act can be found here.

 

The Hon. David Coleman MP
Federal Member for Banks
Shadow Minister for Communications