Media Release

3 March 2003

Censorship laws contribute to youth access to violent pornography

Australian censorship laws contribute to the problem of youth access to pornographic material of the violent and extreme kind, Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) said today.

The Australia Institute recently surveyed 200 youths 16-17 years old and found that "teenagers view X-rated videos more than Internet sex sites", although the sale of X-rated videos is illegal in all States.

"Apparently, Australian laws prohibiting sale of X-rated videos have failed to prevent youth access to this type of video. It's even less likely that government attempts to prevent access to content on the world-wide Internet can be successful," said Irene Graham, EFA's Executive Director. "Australian laws already empower the Australian Broadcasting Authority to enforce deletion of any X-rated material found on Australian hosted Internet sites and The Australia Institute's report does not suggest that the laws have failed in this regard."

The Australia Institute said a "distinction needs to be drawn between 'mainstream' pornography (in commercially available X-rated videos) and the proliferation of violent and extreme material on the Internet".

"Australian Internet censorship laws go far beyond the realms of community standards and practicality," said Graham. "Mainstream pornography containing sexually explicit X-rated material without the slightest indication of violence, coercion or demeaning depictions, and also R rated material that is not sexually explicit, is banned in the same way as depictions of rape, bestiality and so on. Mere nudity, like a Playboy magazine centre-fold, is banned. As a result, adults and teenagers seeking mainstream pornography online, visit overseas sites where they are very likely to be exposed to violent and extreme pornography."

EFA said relaxation of Australian Internet censorship laws would be more successful in minimising access to violent and extreme kinds of pornography than would more restrictive legislation.

"The laws should be changed to permit on-line provision of Australian X-rated material, a category that has long prohibited violent and extreme pornography," said Graham. "This would allow the small proportion of Internet users who seek pornographic material online, whether adult or teenage, to access strictly regulated Australian sites. At present, they have no option other than to visit overseas sites that also contain horrific material and that are not, and never will be, subject to Australia's censorship laws."

EFA considers that minors' access to pornography online is a matter of serious concern. However, given the global nature of the Internet, more restrictive Australian laws would be no more effective than current laws.

-- Ends --


Below is:
- Background information
- Contact details for media


The Australia Institute's Report:
  "Youth and Pornography in Australia: Evidence on the extent of exposure and likely effects"

It should be noted that the Australia Institute's Report:

  • states and also implies that videos classified "X" under Australian law contain depictions of sex-related practices (including violence, fisting, etc) that are in fact already prohibited in videos classified "X" in Australia;
  • provides no indication of whether or not the 200 teenagers surveyed were informed of and understood the difference between material classified R18,
    X18, and Refused Classification under existing Australia law;
  • provides no indication of the methodology used to select the 200 teenagers surveyed;
  • fails to cite references (or any identifying information at all) in relation to the alleged studies and research quoted regarding likely effects of exposure to "pornography";
  • etc.

Media Contact:

Ms Irene Graham
EFA Executive Director
Phone: 0412 997 163
Email: ed at

Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc --
representing Internet users concerned with on-line freedoms
URL of this release: