CHOICE membership

Privacy and verification



Of course, as I said nothing is perfect. Make them use screen locking on timer or similar will help but it can still be abused. What the Govt entertains is very heavy handed and bad implementation in my opinion as well with imperfect results as a consequence.

As I say to my adult children about their children’s access to online content, it requires education and review, not setting and forgetting.

The following are some help subjects about Family Group control:


From the report (and ignoring for a moment the biases of the authors, two of whose research backgrounds are linked to their names):

Young males are more likely than females to deliberately seek out pornography and to do so frequently.

The best approach for parents, caregivers and teachers responding to children’s exposure to pornography is to encourage open communication, discussion and critical thinking on the part of children, while educating themselves about the internet and social media.

Parents and caregivers are less likely to be intimidated by online risks if they are informed and take an active role in their children’s digital lives.

So this report, which appears to be by some people who are quite ‘anti-pornography’, doesn’t suggest some sort of Internet filter; it says parents need to step up!

In Australia, just under half (44%) of children aged 9-16 surveyed had encountered sexual images in the last month. Of these, 16% had seen images of someone having sex and 17% of someone’s genitals.

Wait - what is a sexual image that doesn’t involve genitals? Are we talking breasts? If so, are male breasts and female breasts considered equal? What about pictures of breast-feeding?

Oh, and…

Parents tend to overestimate exposure to pornography for younger children and underestimate the extent of exposure for older children.


In the absence of other information, pornography can be the main source of a young person’s sex education.

Digging a little deeper for the “44%”, one finds near the bottom of the page that:

The content in this Research Snapshot has been taken from Quadara, A., El-Murr. A., & Latham, J. (2017). The effects of pornography on children and young people: An evidence scan. Melbourne, Australian Institute of Family Studies.

That is, the more complete report. Based upon looking at ‘the evidence’, as chosen by the research team.

Now I’m a little lazy, and could not be bothered reading the entire report plus its 119 page appendix. Instead, I did a simple search of both for that 44% (actually, for just 44 to make the search more tiresome but also more likely to find a reference). The only place it appears is as quoted above! There is no footnote, no end note to provide any further information, making the number on the face of it unsupported by the evidence.

Just to be clear, this is not about parental supervision; it is about parental guidance.

If multiple people share a computer then they should be managed via different accounts - regardless of their age!

Again - education… and embarrassment. If you find that your son has left his account unlocked, change his wallpaper to Hannah Montana or whatever kids hate today. (Make sure that only the administrator has access to do this.) After a few such episodes you will find the accounts are carefully guarded.

In short, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution or government intervention that will actually ‘fix’ the ‘problem’ - but an enormous number of risks associated with the proposal. Even if you have absolute trust in the current government, what about the next one? Or the one after that? With a maximum of three years between federal elections, we could very quickly find ourselves with a totally untrustworthy government that has all the data collected by its trusted predecessors.


UK lifestyle blogger Hannah Witton did a video about the UK plans for a porn ID. One of the proposals, besides using drivers licences and passports, was the ability to purchase a porn pass from newsagents. It also won’t of affected social media sites like Reddit. MindGeek was/is going to paid by the UK government for it’s age verification software. MindGeek also owns many of the world’s most well known porn sites. MindGeek can also sell their age verification software to other sites.

A VPN is also a good way to get around age verification.

This is Hannah’s video. There are reference links in the description, including one linking to the NSPCC: (full disclosure: I support Hannah through Patreon):

This video also touches on “Won’t someone think of the children” debate:

I still remember when a certain men’s magazine had a what was then legal 16yo centrefold, and the then Howard government rightfully changed the law to allow 18+ models only.


I have a friend who allows her grandchildren (ages 14 and 11) to use her computer. I set up accounts for them, and one for her, as well as the admin account… so what happens? Its just too much trouble to log out and have them log in to their own accounts. Some people just don’t get it.


A few months ago I sold an item on ebay but the buyer went missing and did not pay and did not respond to friendly reminders. He became belligerent when I reported him for non-payment but as events unfolded he discovered some of his son’s mates were using his computer and made the bid as well as some troubling, threatening and unfriendly remarks. He now has a black mark on his ebay history and has learnt a bit about account security.


Interesting the separate point about the UK suggestion of purchasing a pass from a newsagent.

A VPN however changes everything. Or does that just create one more excuse for government to seek to manage VPN access and use too. Big corporates might object though?

Plenty of thoughts so far that would make great public submissions?


Maybe an alternative solution would be to mandate the installation and activation of parent controls on all devices as default, and these controls can only be suspended for a session when age verification is used. The controls could be extended to VPNs to prevent a child’s use of them. he controls would also need to be embedded in the OS to prevent their removal. This would however mean all OS developers would need to be onboard.

This would mean that an adult could temporarily suspend for a session (either timed, period of inactivity or next logged out) reducing the likelihood of children gaining access through unprotected devices.


I haven’t yet seen it mentioned yet, but porn providers themselves harvest a LOT of data from their users. If we presume it’s impossible to block this content at an ISP level, the next step that will likely be investigated is making porn providers require a proof of age. Which effectively hands them a data identity on a silver platter


Age verification at the user end! So simple to bypass. So annoying if you are 67 years old with no kids at home.

It may also be relevant that many young adults/teenagers, do have needs to interact with the workforce, education and financial services from younger than 18 years. The early teenage years are critical in so many ways. Rebellion is so easily instilled and so much more difficult to reform?

Plenty of shared knowledge available. Steve’s books, ‘Raising Girls’ and ‘Raising Boys’ offer great insights to childhood behaviour and relationships.

Substituting autocratic controls at parental level for a proper parental relationship might not be the best for our future. The alternative also suggests a return to the days of the chastity belt, and protective codling till 21 years of age.

Why ruin something for the majority that do their best and are not at risk?


This already happens. A good example if child proof caps required on hazardous/toxic household products or medicines, pool fences etc. Likewise in the future for button batteries security which Choice is championing as mandatory across all products likely to be able to be accessed by children.

In relation to child proof caps/lids, it could he easiiy argued that parents should monitor their children so that they don’t access such products (e.g. put out of reach, place in a locked cabinet, watch their children at all times etc). Such measures prove not to be universally accepted and itis easier to modifythe product to reduce a risk than assume parents/all adults will be responsible.

Sometimes all consumers are impacted, if it is in the betterment of a particular risk group such as children. Children often can’t protect themselves and don’t know the risks or expectations of others. Many adukts are also not responsible enough to mitigate such risks (or risks can’t be mitigated without a form of intervention or control) This is why sector wide controls have and will continue to be adopted.

No one likes change, but on the same hand most of the community also want to protect those who can’t protect themselves.


Or, use a device that already has parental controls. The iPhone already has parental controls. Use them if you want. Don’t use them if you don’t want. (I can confirm that they work, on limited testing, strictly for research purposes.)

Because the iPhone is such a walled garden and closed product, there is little to no realistic concern about the parental controls functionality being “removed”. (I mean if the 8-year-old can write replacement firmware never mind about bypassing Apple’s firmware signature verification then ASIO will be offering him or her a job.)

There is no need to prevent use of VPN on the client device. VPN on the client device won’t help if the client device itself is blocking restricted content (as happens when you enable the parental controls).

This is hugely contentious. People with a certain worldview would like to change the world to fit their worldview by default.

Fortunately this is a false dichotomy. When you buy your smartphone, the vendor can ask you what you want? You can buy with parental controls enabled initially. You can buy with parental controls disabled initially. You can’t buy without making a choice one way or the other. Either way the parental controls functionality is baked in anyway (so if you buy with parental controls disabled, you can change your mind later, and likewise if initially enabled).

Could Apple be persuaded by the Australian government to give you that buying option? Who knows? But a lot more likely than millions of porn sites putting in age verification.

It’s not that big a deal to enable parental controls yourself. Just a few taps on the screen. Perhaps Apple could be persuaded to include a small sheet of paper telling people how to enable parental controls.


I think most smartphones now do - I just can’t find the setting on my Android phone right now because I have never needed it. Windows has Family Options, and presumably so does Macintosh.


To sum up:
Q. Is there a problem?
A. Possibly.

Q. Will the proposal solve the problem?
A. Probably not.

Q. Will the proposal introduce mechanisms that can be abused?
A. Yes.

Q. Can we trust our government and authorities to not abuse the mechanisms?
A. History suggests not.

Q. Can we trust all possible future governments and authorities?
A. No.

Q. Is this a good idea?
A. No


One more:

Q. If there is a problem, are there better ways to solve the problem?

A. Yes


Q. If there’s a problem, then is the issue we’re talking about actually the problem?
A. Probably not.


Yes, these are indeed other examples of the same insanity. Years ago, there was a lovely video where they gave items with “child-proof” caps to a bunch of little kids (I think NBC’s Today Show did it?) and some opened them in seconds. Others took minutes!

Pool fences are an amazing waste of money, remove the utility of the pool and make access impossible for many disabled people, as the same methods (e.g. high gate fittings) work even more effectively against wheelchair users than against children. (I still don’t understand why anti-discrimination legislation doesn’t trump the discriminatory pool-fence rules.)

While those are examples of appalling government interference, the current topic is even worse. At least “child-proof” caps slow children down. An Australian age-verification law would do nothing at all when most porn sites are hosted overseas anyhow, except drive even more traffic away from Australian sites that would have to comply.


They are also the bane of the elderly and those with severe arthritis or one of several other conditions that make fiddly hand movements difficult or impossible.


The same might be said of banking and the digital age, and personal identification. I know several older Australians who only have a bank passbook, and cash. The bills are paid over the counter at the local PO. One has never held a drivers license, hence zero photo ID. It would seem a hack proof strategy.

The dear lady was most upset when she was unable to change her phone account with Telstra due to a lack of photo ID, despite having a state seniors card and pension card, neither of which had photos. She had recently been able to have a new will drawn up without needing photo ID as proof of identity.

For her 90th we finally upgraded her, with a photo ID card, and now all seems fine. Except for a fear of having her identity stolen. Combine a lack of interest in some aspects of the modern world, a lifetime of evidence reinforcing mistrust of governments, and all the misdirected sensationalism in the press, it is little surprise.


I agree, though my point was about physical capability whereas online banking and identity checks are more a function of changing community and business expectations beyond an individual’s ability to cope with such change.


This does go against scientific and evidentiary data which shows a reduction in drowning because of pool fencing. What is the cost to a pool owner (emotional, financial etc) as a result of a pool drowing?

Yes they are 'inconvenient, but so are seat belts. One could argue that seatbelts discriminate against a particular community sector, but using this as an excuse not to use a seat belt doesn’t stack up.

Yes interesting video but not scientific. They didn’t indicate child proof caps were not a waste of time or resources, just 4 year old children after several minutes could open a cap.

Our child could open some child proof devices at the age 3-4, after watching us. Having a room full of people year olds watching each other open containers could also show they are good learners. I can’t find any scientific evidence indicating they have no value.

Correct me if I am wrong, but the story was about using multiple controls including removing hazardous products out of reach of chiodren, and not to rely on them as the only control.

4 year olds are also at an age where they start to understand what not to put in their mouths…it would have been interesting to know what peak age poisoning occurs (with or without child proof caps), whether poisoning occurs with products from child proof caps which has been opened by tye child or if poisoning occurs due to other accessable products (e.g. cleaning powder, tablets or liquids).

Child proof containers are a nuisance, but preventing poisoning, severe injury or death may warrant such a nuisance.

As with children access to adult content (and as indicated on the NBC video), it will take a suite of measure rather than relying on one (e.g parents taking control or making them responsible) to have any real effect.