“Porn site age-check law demanded by media regulator” by Leo Kelion

The Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD), a “video-on-demand watchdog,” has called for the British government to require additional age verification processes for online pornography. This is an excerpt from a recent BBC article. The source of this excerpt is http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-26779639

image courtesy of the BBC

image courtesy of the BBC

A UK industry regulator has called for the law to be changed to require pornography sites to carry out age checks before granting access.

Video-on-demand watchdog Atvod said the government must act to protect children from seeing graphic adult material.

It said credit and debit card operators would be forbidden from processing payments from British customers to sites that did not comply.

[…]

The Authority for Television On Demand (Atvod) said the matter was so urgent that it was “critical the legislation is enacted during this Parliament”.

To back up its demand, the body commissioned market research firm Nielsen Netview to install equipment that monitored the online habits of 45,000 desktop PC and laptop users over the course of a month. The volunteers were picked to reflect a cross-section of the wider population.

[…]

One website alone – Pornhub – had been visited by 112,000 boys in the UK aged between 12 and 17-years-old.

Atvod added that the survey probably underestimated the scale of the issue since smartphone and tablet use was not included in the figures.

The regulator already forces UK-based sites to carry out age verification checks before explicit photographs and videos can be viewed.

image courtesy of the BBC

image courtesy of the BBC

This can be done by requiring valid credit card details, or other personal information that can be cross-referenced with the electoral roll or another ID database.

However, the body said the vast majority of online pornography was downloaded from businesses based overseas, over which it had no control.

To tackle this, Atvod said it wanted all adult sites to request a licence that would only be granted if they had age checks in place. Payment processors would be ordered not to handle fees for premium services – such as higher definition or longer clips – from UK citizens to unregistered sites.

[…]

Atvod acknowledged its proposal was only part of the solution, but it insisted that the scheme could still be designed to make a difference.

“The material that appears on the free services is placed there by the paid services to attract customers to sign up to subscriptions.

“As long as the paid service placed content on a free service without age verification it would be in breach of its licensing conditions and so would not be able to access funds from the UK.

“We’re not saying this will stop all children seeing all pornography online.

“But our argument is that even if you reduce the number of children who are accessing hardcore pornography online by 10%, that would be a significant win.”

This is a significantly shortened excerpt. To read the full article, please visit the BBC website http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-26779639

Leo Kelion is a technology reporter for http://www.bbc.com