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Federal Opposition’s Call for Age Verification on Social Media

The federal opposition is urging the government to trial age verification on social media platforms in order to block young Australian children from accessing harmful images and videos. The shadow Communications Minister, David Coleman, has been campaigning for the use of age verification online for some time, and he believes it should cover basic access to social media. Mr. Coleman argues that social media is damaging for the mental health of children and that strong action needs to be taken to protect them. He points to the disturbing images that thousands of children in Australia have seen on social media in the last two weeks and emphasizes the need to stop this. Other countries, including some US states, have already started implementing or testing age verification laws for content such as pornography and imposing age limits on social media.
For example, the state of Utah insists on parental consent for minors wanting to use social media. Mr. Coleman believes Australia should follow suit and conduct the age verification trial recommended by the eSafety commissioner more than a year ago.

Push for Age Verification Laws in Australia

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland acknowledges that age verification on social media is a “very live issue” and confirms that it is being considered as part of a review into Australia’s online safety regime. She recognizes that parents are deeply concerned about what their children are exposed to online. However, she also acknowledges that there are challenges and limitations associated with implementing age verification tools. Age assurance technologies are still immature and privacy, security, and effectiveness issues remain.

In response to the eSafety commissioner’s Age Verification Roadmap, the federal government stated that age verification tools currently available have significant drawbacks in terms of privacy, security, and effectiveness.
However, the government recognizes that these technologies are developing and will continue to monitor their progress.

Tech Billionaire’s Controversy and Political Backlash

The latest legal stoush between the federal government and tech billionaire Elon Musk has intensified the calls for age verification on social media. The government is demanding that Musk’s platform, referred to as X, block access to a video of a stabbing at a Sydney church. Lawyers for X argue that the Australian government should not have the authority to censor content on the platform and impose global restrictions on images and videos.

Elon Musk’s behavior on social media has also attracted significant attention. After crossbench senator Jacqui Lambie deleted her X account due to Mr. Musk’s approach to violent content, he attacked her in posts, accusing her of having “utter contempt for the Australian people” and being “an enemy of the people.”

This controversy and political backlash have prompted other politicians to voice their concerns about X and its role in disseminating harmful content. Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume declared that X was a “horrible place to be” and announced her intention to delete her account from the platform upon retiring from politics. These reactions reflect the growing dissatisfaction with social media platforms and the need for stronger regulations.

Opposition and Crossbench Reactions to Age Verification

The decision by the Shadow Finance Minister and crossbench senator to delete their X accounts highlights the increasing public criticism of the platform. Many people view X as a breeding ground for harmful content and believe that age verification laws are necessary to protect young Australians online. This move by prominent politicians adds weight to the broader debate on age verification laws and contributes to the momentum behind the opposition’s push for their implementation.

In conclusion, the federal opposition is advocating for the implementation of age verification laws on social media platforms to safeguard young Australians from harmful content. Shadow Communications Minister David Coleman believes that social media has a detrimental impact on children’s mental health, and age verification is a crucial step in addressing this issue. While implementing age verification tools poses challenges, the government is considering the issue as part of a broader review. The controversy surrounding tech billionaire Elon Musk’s platform and the political backlash it has generated further highlights the need for stricter regulations. The decision by prominent politicians to delete their accounts underscores the growing public dissatisfaction with the current state of social media platforms.