Charles Gutjahr

Melbourne, Australia

Inquiry into age verification for online wagering and online pornography

6 Nov 2019 — a 1 minute read on opinion

I only just heard about the Parliamentary inquiry into age verification for online wagering and online pornography, so I missed the chance to make an official submission. Here's what I would have said:

Legislating to restrict teenagers from accessing online pornography will do more harm than good. The big problem that porn poses is not sex (as most Aussie teenagers are sexually active), the problem is that porn can teach teenagers unrealistic and problematic representations of sex.

If the Government enforces age verification for pornography then it is the responsible providers of pornography who will comply and block teenagers from access. These are surely the ones most likely to show positive, healthy representations of sex which teens could benefit from seeing. Teenagers won't stop being interested in sex, though, and when they go looking for porn if they can't access the healthy stuff they'll find the squalid, violent and misogynistic pornography instead. Providers of that darker stuff don't operate in Australia and don't care about our laws so it will be just as readily available as before. Age verification risks pushing teenagers away from healthy role models towards dangerous and problematic ones.

The press release for the enquiry is titled "keeping minors safe online". Keeping minors safe should mean keeping them away from harmful depictions of sex, not away from learning about healthy sex. Perhaps instead of trying to prevent teenagers from learning about sex the Government should be encouraging more healthy online pornography to displace the darker stuff. Hey, perhaps this is a way to make SBS relevant again?