Australia Calls for ‘Enforceable Regulations’ to Safeguard Children on the Internet


Protecting Children Online: Australia’s eSafety Commissioner Calls for Enforceable Codes to Shield Against Harmful Content

Australia’s eSafety Commissioner has issued a mandate for key online industry players to develop enforceable codes within the next six months to protect children from exposure to harmful content, particularly pornography. These codes will not only focus on shielding young children from explicit material but also cover other high-impact content such as themes of suicide, self-harm, and disordered eating.

The regulations will apply to a wide range of online platforms including app stores, websites, search engines, social media, messaging platforms, and online dating services. The goal is to empower Australian internet users with options to manage their exposure to various online materials, especially those that are deemed unsuitable for children.

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant emphasized the importance of these enforceable codes in light of the pervasive nature of online pornography. She highlighted that children are often exposed to explicit material accidentally and at younger ages than ever before. Social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat play a significant role in this unintentional exposure, with 60% of young people encountering pornography on these platforms.

Parents and caregivers play a crucial role in protecting children online, but industry players must also implement effective barriers such as age verification, default safety settings, parental controls, and content filtering tools. The eSafety Commissioner stressed the need for multi-layered protection across all technology layers to ensure children are not exposed to harmful content.

Industry bodies are required to submit a preliminary draft of the codes by October 3, with final versions due by December 19. Public consultations will also be conducted to define these enforceable codes. Failure to meet the standards set by the eSafety Commissioner could result in the commissioner setting the rules for the industry players under the Online Safety Act provisions.

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