Australia to trial age verification technologies for online safety

The trial, focusing on platforms like gambling sites and adult games, will be managed by the Department of Communications and evaluated by an independent expert.

Australia flag is depicted on the screen with the program code

The Australian Department of Communications is set to start a trial for age verification technologies to ensure age-restricted online content is only accessible to appropriate individuals. This initiative aims to protect minors from harmful material.

The trial will focus on verifying users’ ages on platforms such as gambling sites, adult games, entertainment, and possibly social media. The Department will manage the trial’s logistics, while an independent third-party expert will evaluate the technology’s effectiveness. The selection process for this expert will begin next month, inviting proposals from qualified organisations and individuals.

Participation in the trial is voluntary for digital platform companies, but the Department encourages major tech firms to join, given their obligations under the Online Safety Act, which is currently under review. The trial will explore various age verification methods, including biometric age estimation, ID document verification, and AI-driven age inference.

Why does it matter?

In line with these efforts to address harmful content, the Australian Government has enhanced the Basic Online Safety Expectations (BOSE) determination for online services providers, including social media platforms, to adhere to higher online safety standards. Previously, the Albanese government decided against a mandatory age verification system for online pornography and adult content due to the immaturity of current technologies, as per the BiometricUpdate.