The federal Opposition has urged the government to extend its online age verification trial to require social media firms to collect 100 points of ID from users in order to block anonymous accounts.

In a heated debate in Parliament on Monday, Liberal MP Andrew Wallace moved a motion in the House of Representatives criticising Labor for not backing a recommendation to implement mandated social media identity verification and accusing the government of “patent fealty to big tech, big porn and the big end of town”.

Government MPs hit back at the motion, labelling it a “dangerous” idea that would threaten the privacy of all social media users.

Wallace’s motion warned of the use of anonymous accounts on social media to bully and harass, to “groom, traffic and exploit children” and by “anonymous parties and organised gangs using armies of operatives and automated bots to radicalise, terrorise and steal from vulnerable Australians”.

It also pointed to a bipartisan recommendation from a House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs in 2021 calling for the launch of identity verification for social media platforms to “strip malicious actors of their anonymity in an effort to prevent technology-facilitated abuse”.

The motion said the government has rejected this recommendation and another from an inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence which recommended a mandated social media identity verification regime.

It called for Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland to order the eSafety Commissioner with “expeditiously developing a roadmap toward social media identification verification” within a year, and to commence the implementation of this within three months of this being completed.

While the federal government has announced plans for a trial of age verification to prevent children from accessing online pornography, among other things, Wallace’s motion goes further and pushes for ID checks to ensure users are not posting anonymously.

“One of the biggest problems we have with social media is anonymity,” Wallace said in Parliament.

“If you hide behind anonymity, you can say whatever you like without fear of being sued for defamation or having the police knock on your door.

“The identification of people who use social media accounts is as important as age verification.”

Handing identity docs to TikTok

Mr Wallace’s motion was backed by a number of Coalition MPs in the lower house.

But it was slammed by the government, which said it was a dangerous proposal that would see multinational tech companies accessing the identity documents of all Australian users, including children.

“The suggestion made by those opposite is dangerous in the sense it is taking the issue of age assurance beyond what was ever recommended by the eSafety Commissioner,” Labor MP Lisa Chesters said.

“The motion is suggesting all users of social media, social engines and other digital platforms should provide identification documentation to big tech.”

Nationals MP David Gillespie supported the motion and criticised the effectiveness of the eSafety Commissioner.

“As we have all seen, our eSafety Commissioner is like a mosquito bite to social media giant companies – they just brush us off,” Mr Gillespie said.

“Identity is everything, and identity verification on social media is key to stopping all the social media ills that we’re all familiar with.”

Age assurance trials

The federal government provided $6.5 million in 2024-25 for a pilot of age assurance technologies to protect children from harmful online content, as part of a suite of policies aiming to address gender-based violence.

As part of the trial, the eSafety Commissioner will look at the use of technology to block children from accessing online pornography and other age-restricted online services.

This trial is not looking at requiring all social media users to provide identity and lose the ability to use these services anonymously.

The eSafety Commissioner has been mulling this issue for several years and provided an Age Verification Roadmap to the government last year.

This roadmap found that current age assurance technologies were “immature but developing”, and that there were significant privacy and security issues associated with them.