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Tech companies said they were taking measures to block young people from viewing harmful content (Bigstock)

Major tech platforms including Meta, TikTok and Snapchat will not be forced to be part of the Albanese Government’s $6.5 million age assurance trial, with the department relying on the “goodwill” of platforms to test the new technology. Source: Canberra Times.

But in a separate move, the online regulator, the eSafety Commissioner, will require tech companies to come up with codes to prevent children from viewing online pornography and other harmful content.

Staff in the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development Communications and the Arts fronted the Joint Select Committee on Social Media and Australian Society on Tuesday, when they outlined details of the $6.5 million trial funded in the most recent budget. The department is yet to release a tender for an independent review of age assurance technologies, which enable social media companies and other tech platforms to block young people from viewing harmful content, but said it was having informal discussions with global giants about how the trial would work.

Liberal senator Sarah Henderson said this amounted to little more than a desktop “research project”, a characterisation disputed by the department.

Liberal MP Andrew Wallace questioned whether tech platforms would be required to participate in the trial, to which the department responded it did not have the statutory powers to compel companies to participate.

“Are we relying on the goodwill of the platforms to take part in the trial?” he said.

“It seems a dangerous assumption to assume platforms who to date have been fairly recalcitrant in their approach to online safety, to do the right thing and jump on board.”

Representatives of tech companies including Snapchat, Google, TikTok and Meta – which owns Facebook and Instagram – gave evidence to the same parliamentary inquiry last week, insisting they were taking measures to control harmful content and prevent it from appearing for young people.

The committee will present its interim report by August 15, with a final report in November.


Govt relying on tech platforms’ ‘goodwill’ to stop kids viewing harmful content (By Connor Pearce, The Canberra Times)