UK Government Faces Action Over Lack Of Age Verification On Adult Sites | Child protection

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Lawyers have initiated judicial review proceedings against the government over allegations it failed to prevent UK children from viewing pornography online.

Age verification for legal porn adult cam sites was introduced under Part 3 of the Digital Economy Law in 2017, but the government never enforced it.

The ministers said the online harm bill would instead protect children by placing the onus on internet providers to protect users from “harms,” ​​including viewing pornography while they were minors. .

But critics point out that this bill is currently only at the white paper stage with no current date to present it to parliament.

Paul Conrathe, a lawyer at Sinclairslaw, is taking legal action on the grounds that children are currently harmed by the lack of age verification, in direct violation of the government’s legal obligation to protect them.

Conrathe told the Guardian: “The government has sought to thwart parliament’s clear will to protect children from harm online.

“In the meantime, the ease with which under-18s can access extreme pornography online has significant negative impacts on thousands of children every day. This includes teenage girls who are sexually harassed in school.

“In any case, it will probably take at least two more years before a new online security law comes into force, it may take longer.

“Five years is a very long time in the life of a teenager for whom the prevalence of online pornography has an effect on a daily basis.”

When Culture Secretary Matt Hancock vowed that putting harmful legislation online would make the UK “the safest place in the world to be online”.

Ava Vakil: “The first sexual experience of young people is increasingly pornography which often glorifies extreme violence against women. Photography: Hazel Thompson

Ava Vakil is one of the plaintiffs in the judicial review proceedings. She is a student and activist involved in the issue of sexual violence among adolescents.

She said: “In my experience with sexual violence in schools, the first sexual experience of young people is increasingly pornography which often glorifies extreme violence against women.

“An 11-year-old can’t go to the movies and watch an 18-year-old movie, but with more ease, no ticket allows him to view incredibly dangerous material on his or a friend’s phone.

“It shouldn’t be bold or controversial to say that children shouldn’t have full and unhindered access to violent sexual images. “

The other claimant is 52-year-old father of four Ioannis Dekas, who argues that it is difficult to help his sons become men who respect women when they have so much access to violent images.

He said, “I take my responsibilities as a parent, but pornography harms our young people. There are times when they have accessed them despite our efforts to safeguard and protect them. “

Ioannis Dekas says it is difficult to help his sons become men who respect women when they have so much access to violent images.
Ioannis Dekas says it is difficult to help his sons become men who respect women when they have so much access to violent images. Photography: Hazel Thompson

A survey by City, University of London, found that four in five young Britons aged 16 and 17 saw pornography online, most often on the day of the survey.

The survey of 1,000 16- and 17-year-olds found that many viewed pornography on social media sites, but that it was seen more frequently on pornographic sites.

One of the arguments for not introducing age verification as proposed was that it would not cover social media sites.

Dr. Neil Thurman led the investigation. He said the results showed the importance of urgently implementing the legislation rather than waiting any longer.

“The visits of young people to pornographic sites that we found were surprisingly frequent, with the majority having viewed pornography on the day of the survey.

“Considering how often our research shows that pornography websites are viewed by 16 and 17 year olds, waiting for the online harm bill to come into effect certainly carries risks,” he said. allowing adolescents to continue to regularly access problematic online content. In many ways.”

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