Call to Curb Kids’ Porn Access

The South West’s long-standing Federal MP has revealed she was approached at a school about nine-year-old students livestreaming pornography as the Federal Opposition calls for more to be done.

Forrest MHR Nola Marino made the shocking revelation as she and shadow communications minister David Coleman held an online safety forum in Bunbury on Tuesday when age verification measures were on the agenda.

Mrs Marino has been holding online safety talks in schools for more than a decade.

She discussed how she was approached about the issue at one school.

“They knew of young children of nine who were livestreaming live sex acts online, and they were talking to me about how concerned they were because they knew this was happening to the kids and the kids were accessing it,” Mrs Marino said.

The Liberal MHR made the comments as the Federal Opposition continues its push for online age verification to be trialled in Australia.

The eSafety Commissioner was asked to provide a roadmap for age verification and other ways to protect children from adult content online in the last term of Parliament.

The Federal Government received the report in March 2023.

It responded to the findings in August, saying there were “privacy, security, effectiveness and implementation issues” with technology currently available and opting instead to work on new industry codes to prevent harm.

The Federal Opposition has been unhappy with the move, calling on Australia to follow the UK’s lead on the issue.

Mr Coleman said a trial of the technology was critical.

“The Government isn’t doing it and we can’t understand that, to be frank,” he said. “We moved legislation in Parliament to do this, which pretty much everyone in Parliament voted for except the Government, and we’re going to continue talking about this issue.”

Mrs Marino said she had noticed a “distinct deterioration” in the mental health and wellbeing of young people over the time she had been conducting her online safety talks across the region.

“I think that’s where you see the real impacts of what’s going on online,” she said.

A spokesperson for Communications Minister Michelle Rowland described Mrs Marino’s revelations as “extremely concerning” and said no Australian wanted children accessing pornographic material online.

“The Government is actively scoping work on a pilot of age assurance technologies, informed by the eSafety Commissioner’s Roadmap for Age Verification,” the spokesperson said.

“Minister Rowland has also sought further advice from the eSafety Commissioner on recent developments in age assurance technologies, to ensure a pilot can deliver constructive findings and complements the work of eSafety on mandatory industry codes.”

The spokesperson said the eSafety Commissioner continued work on implementing the Online Safety Act and said the Federal Government had signed an online safety and security memorandum of understanding with its British counterparts in February.

Source: South Western Times 11/04/2024, Photo credit: Sean Van Der Wielen