BREAKING NEWS

Now Reading:

UK parliament backs bill to force internet porn viewers to register their age


world news

UK parliament backs bill to force internet porn viewers to register their age

The UK’s House of Commons this week passed a bill that, among its tenets, obliges internet users seeking to view free online pornographic videos to verify their age before being played.

MPs in the House of Commons this week passed the “Digital Economy Bill”: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/lbill/2016-2017/0080/17080.pdf, bringing the bill one step closer to becoming law.

The bill, sponsored by conservative MP John Whittingdale, contains measures that will improve access to high-speed broadband internet services, protect intellectual property and outlines rules governing data-sharing.

The measure also calls for the transfer to the BBC of the management and cost of free TV licences for people older than 75 years.

But part of the bill also targets online pornography and will force pornographic websites to put in place age verification checks on videos so as to prevent children from gaining access to pornographic content.

If the bill becomes law, persons under the age of 18 will not be able to view pornographic videos and requires those 18 and older to sign up to an age-verification programme to have their ages authenticated.

According to the bill, financial penalties may be imposed on those seen to be breaking, or attempting to circumvent, this age verification requirement.

Whittingdale has been an outspoken critic of online pornography and has in recent years pressured social media websites like Twitter to self-regulate in order to prevent children from accessing pornographic materials.

The UK’s Minister of Culture, Matt Hancock, said the proposed Digital Economy Bill will create one of the most robust internet protection measures regarding online pornography, but he admitted the bill is “not a utopia”. It does not, for instance, cover websites like Twitter onto which users can publish images and videos themselves.

“There is a difference between websites that provide commercial pornography and platforms on which others can upload images, and getting this right among that second group is much harder than around the first group,” Hancock said. “And so what we are proposing to do is to put forward this bill to deal with the large swathe of the problem and to get this working properly.”

Those websites that do not adhere to the rule will be blocked, a provision that the Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA) argues the government has not properly thought enough about.

“The government previously said web blocking is a policy that is ‘disproportionate’, that technical measures can be easily circumvented and legal content could be blocked my mistake, so we are concerned and disappointed it has gone down this path,” said the ISPA in a statement. “This change in direction has been agreed without any consultation, with no assessment of costs nor is there any certainty that it will comply with judicial rulings on interference with fundamental rights.”

Even Whittingdale, the bill’s original author, is unconvinced the law will properly address the issue of young children accessing sexually explicit material through social media.

“One of the main ways in which young people are now exposed to pornography is through social media such as Twitter, and I do not really see that the bill will do anything to stop that happening,” Whittingdale told the BBC.

The Digital Economy Bill was introduced on Tuesday to the House of Lords where it will be debated on Dec. 13. If approved by the House of Lords, the bill will receive royal ascent, formally making the proposed bill a law.

Next Article

world news

No more AIDS by 2030?