How can children in the UK be protected from watching online pornography? | Internet security


Why do child safety groups require age verification on porn sites?
They fear that it is too easy for children to access publicly available pornography online. Experts who work with children say that pornography gives children unhealthy views about sex and consent, puts them at risk from predators, and potentially prevents them from reporting abuse.

It can also make children risky or inappropriate for their age and harm themselves and others. Charities say that children tell them that pornography is difficult to avoid and that they can feel ashamed and desperate. One problem is the extreme nature of porn on mainstream sites, either a study This shows that every eighth video viewed by first-time visitors has violent or forced content.

A survey by the British Board of Film Classification Last year, 60% of children ages 11-13 who said they had seen pornography said it was largely unintentional. Ofcom research found that the commercial pornography site Pornhub – which doesn’t use age verification – had a larger UK audience than BBC News. It was attended by 50% of all men and 16% of all women in the UK in September 2020. Three of the most popular websites in the UK – PornHub, RedTube and YouPorn – are owned by a Canadian company, MindGeek.

Last December, Mastercard and Visa said they would stop customers using their credit cards on Pornhub after allegations that the porn site showed videos of child abuse and rape. An investigation by the New York Times claims the site is hosting revenge porn that was recorded without attendees’ consent. Following the allegations, Pornhub owners Mindgeek were removed Millions of user generated videos Uploaded from the site by unverified users. Pornhub has emphatically denied all allegations despite taking sweeping steps to “secure” the site.

Crossbench peer and filmmaker Beeban Kidron has tabled a bill for private members that lays down a framework for introducing basic standards for online age verification. Photo: Antonio Olmos / The Observer

What is the difference between “old-age insurance” and “age verification”?
Retirement planning describes methods that companies use to determine the age of a user online, such as: B. Self-declaration (ie a pop-up form); Profiling (determining a user’s age by reviewing the content they consume or how they interact with a computer) and biometric details such as facial analyzes.

Age verification uses IDs known as “hard identifiers”, such as passports or credit cards. The child protection organization NSPCC wants this to be required in order to access high risk websites such as commercial pornography or dating sites.

What Regulations exist for old-age security and age verification?
The UK’s data protection commissioner, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), introduced the Child Code (or age-appropriate design code) in September. Its purpose is to prevent websites and apps from misusing children’s data, e.g.

If a website or app recognizes that its content can be risky to children, it should manage that risk, and one method is to secure old age. John Carr from Great Britain Coalition of Cyber ​​Security Children’s Agencies, argues that porn sites should require age verification as they are “likely to be viewed by children”. The ICO believes that pornography sites are not intended for children and therefore to do not fall under a code designed to make internet services safer for children.

Ofcom has regulations for video sharing sites that have their European headquarters in the UK, such as TikTok, Vimeo and Snapchat (YouTube for example is not based in the UK). These sites are legally required to protect minors from harmful video content, and Ofcom’s October policy stated that platforms that host porn “should have solid age verification”. Users of online gambling sites that are restricted to under 18s are also required to “confirm that they are legally old enough to gamble”.

What does the Online Security Act propose for age verification?
The Online Safety Act (OSB) focuses on protecting children from online harm, be it from online pornography or viewing other harmful content. It applies to companies that produce “user-generated content” – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – but also commercial porn sites.

The bill imposes a duty of care on technology companies: prevent the distribution of illegal content, such as images of child sexual abuse; and ensure that children are not exposed to harmful or inappropriate content. Retirement planning or verification is an obvious way to monitor the latter.

However, the law does not provide age verification for websites that may expose children to harmful content. Instead, Ofcom regulators may recommend that certain websites, such as pornography outlets, require age protection or verification. Companies could be required to provide a risk assessment, including whether they are exposing children to harmful content and making suggestions to mitigate those risks. Ofcom will then determine whether the company has taken appropriate measures to protect children or whether it is not fulfilling its duty of care. Ofcom can then order the use of old-age security and age verification measures.

Are there any alternative laws urging age verification?
Yes, Crossbench peer Beeban Kidron, architect of the ICO Children’s Code, submitted a bill for private members to the House of Lords: the Old-age insurance (minimum standards) invoice. It sets a framework for basic standards for online age verification. It could find its way into the OSB bill if, for example, Ofcom – which will implement the bill – is empowered to introduce new standards.

In the UK it is NSPCC offers support to children on 0800 1111 and adults worried about a child on 0808 800 5000. The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (Napac) provides assistance for adult survivors on 0808 801 0331. In the US, call or text the Child aid Abuse hotline at 800-422-4453. In Australia, children, teenagers, parents and teachers can contact the Children’s hotline on 1800 55 1800, or Brave heart at 1800 272 831, and adult survivors can contact them Blue Knot Foundation at 1300 657 380. Additional sources of help can be found at International Children’s Aid Lines


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