eChildhood recently shared that July 15 was the date set by the UK for Age Verification to be implemented on all pornography websites in the UK.
Announced in the House of Lords on June 20, Age Verification is now delayed for up to 6-months. This measure requires all users wanting to watch legal pornography to prove they are over the age of 18 by providing identification to a third-party independent age verification company. The culture secretary, Jeremy Wright, provided details of the delay in the announcement.
He explained that there are three pieces of legislation related to implementing Age Verification in the UK, one of which is the Guidance on Age Verification Arrangements. This sets out standards that companies need to comply with. This should have been submitted to the EU Commission along with the Technical Standards and Regulations Directive in Autumn 2018, however this step was missed. To resolve this oversight, the guidance is now to be notified to the EU and relayed to parliament as soon as possible.
Wright offers strong assurance that Age Verification will proceed despite the delay. He states, "I recognise that many members of this house and many people beyond it, have campaigned passionately for Age Verification to come into force as soon as possible, to ensure children are protected from pornographic material they should not see. I apologise to them all for the fact that a mistake has been made which means that these measures may not be brought as soon as they, and I, would like. But there are also those who do not want these measures to be brought in at all. So let me make it clear that although my statement is an apology for delay, it is not a change in policy or a lessening of the government's determination to bring these changes about. Age verification for online pornography needs to happen, and I believe it is the clear will of the house and those we represent that it should, and in the clear interests of our children, that it must.” Watch the full announcement below.
eChildhood wants Australia to be next in line to implement Age Verification, however, it may be the case that other countries are prioritising these essential child protection measures with greater urgency. According to a news update from AgeGO, an Age Verification company based in Spain, more countries are in the planning stages of implementing age verification to access adult sites.
The following overview by AgeGO outlines which countries are thinking about or planning to introduce age verification in the future.
The limitation of online pornographic content online was included in the electoral programme of the newly elected Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez (Social Democrats). The goal of the new government is to implement a new strict age verification system for adult websites.
According to new research carried out by the Balearic Islands University polling 2,500 people aged between 16-29 showed that some children start to consume pornography at 8 with the average age for boys starting to consume pornography is 14 and 16 for girls. Mobile phones are the main point of access for sexual content, with 50% of young people admitting it is the device they most use to watch porn. Although “many have come across pornography unintentionally”, others start searching for images out of curiosity. The anonymity of consumers, the free access to unlimited content, the high quality of the video content, and the wide range of sexual practices (including abuses and illegal practices) portrayed in such websites are some of the factors that worry specialists most.
Recently a discussion paper was published by the South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) which proposed a revision of existing online legislation to limit access to porn, including a default block on internet devices requiring age verification to bypass. According to its introduction, the 360-something-page document aims to identify gaps in the manner in which the law currently regulates and protects children from being exposed to pornography or from being used to create child sexual abuse material, and to serve as a basis for in-depth deliberation on the law reform needed to protect children and to test public opinion on the solutions identified by the Commission.
Most significantly (and, probably, most controversially), the discussion paper recommends that all devices (new and second hand) be issued with or returned to a default setting that blocks inappropriate content, with an opt-in possibility depending on proof of age of the buyer/user as being 18 and older.
This year the Department of Communications launched a public consultation on a new law to regulate harmful content online. The results are currently being examined in preparation for the development of legislation with age verification being considered in the context of the forthcoming legislation. [This was further confirmed following the Ana Kriegel murder trial].
MPs for the country’s Law and Justice party have put forward radical proposals to curtail access to porn websites. Research from the Integrated Prevention Institute shows that in Poland, 60 percent of boys and 40 percent of girls are first exposed to porn at the age of 11.
AgeGO indicates that other countries also investigating Age Verification laws are Sweden and France. Based on the knowledge of eChildhood, active lobby groups are working with the government to prioritise reducing access to pornography for children's online safety in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Denmark.
It's not a silver bullet, but Age Verification is an essential measure to protect our children from unimaginable harmful content. Access frequently asked questions about AV here, contact your MP, and if you are yet to join the movement, take a stand today. Their Future. Your Voice.