General News

New law to fine porn sites £250k if kids are exposed to content

Online porn sites face £250,000 fines if they let children view web smut after research found a staggering 732,000 under-15s logged on in a single month.

Published Sun 17th Apr 2016
By itsAdult / General News

New law to fine porn sites £250k if kids are exposed to content

ONLINE porn sites face £250,000 fines if they let children view web smut after research found a staggering 732,000 under-15s logged on in a single month.

New laws will force sites at home and abroad to check users are over-18 under a major new crackdown to protect kids.

It could see adults required to provide credit card details to prove their age, or use other online ID services which check against electoral rolls or mobile phone ownership registers.

Watchdogs will be given powers to monitor the web and punish internet companies that refuse with huge fines, though criminal sanctions have also not been ruled out.

Ministers also hope advertisers and payment firms will pull the plug on wrongdoers who profit from poisoning young minds – forcing them to change their ways.

The tough new regime has been ordered amid growing fears at the numbers of kids viewing hardcore internet porn and the effect web filth is having.

A Government consultation out Tuesday highlighted research by web analysts comScore which found 1.4million under-18s logged on to adult sites from their desktop in May 2015.

That included 732,000 aged six to 14 – more than one in eight of kids that young.

Separate research found seven out of ten 18-year-olds said porn was having a damaging effect on youngsters’ views of sex and relationships.

In a joint foreword to the consultation, Government Ministers Baroness Shields, Karen Bradley and Edward Timpson admitted “tech savvy young people determined to access pornography will always find ways to do so”.

But they insisted measures were needed to curb access to online porn in a similar way to hardcore magazines and DVDs on the high street.

Internet Safety and Security Minister Baroness Shields said: “The internet is a tremendous resource for learning and creativity but it is important to make sure that children are able to make the most of all it has to offer in a safe way.

“Keeping children safe online is one of Government’s greatest priorities.

“Just as we do offline, we want to make sure children are prevented from accessing pornographic content online which should only be viewed by adults.”

In a sign of the scale of the challenge facing the new laws, around five million sites are classified as pornographic by cyber security firm Symantec and roughly 1.5 million new pornographic links come online every year.

But the top 50 sites are thought to account to 70 per cent of UK viewing – providing a clear starting point.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said the move was “an important and welcome step forward in keeping children safe from online pornography”.

He added: “Every day ChildLine receives calls and messages from young people who feel they are being badly affected by the way they and their friends can view unlimited online pornography.

“As a matter of urgency we must prevent children having ready access to content rated over 18 as it can give them a warped view of sexual relationships.”

The move was a Tory manifesto commitment and follows a series of other child protection measures like broadband porn filters and action to tackle cyber bullying.

Kids are accessing hard-core porn too easily

By BARONESS SHIELDS, Internet Safety and Security Minister

CHILDREN today spend a huge amount of time online. In fact, according to Childwise, Internet usage time has surpassed television time for five to 15 year olds, and I don’t think anyone expects that to decrease.

Yet the time children spend online is often without supervision and parents would be shocked to learn just how easy it is for kids to access hard-core pornography.

There is serious concern that hard core pornography is damaging children’s understanding of healthy relationships, sex and consent.

In the same way you have to prove your age in the “real world”, porn sites should have age verification controls in place to prevent young people accessing it.

The Government’s position on this is clear. We want to see age verification be made a legal requirement.

And that those sites that do not comply should face strict penalties. It’s a manifesto commitment that we’re now delivering on.

Offline, our laws prevent pornographic material being sold to under 18’s but when it comes to the Internet, there’s often nothing to prevent children accessing free sites online that are streaming hardcore pornographic videos.

We want to ensure that online content that states “Adults Only” means what it says and is not freely accessible to children.

Of course, age verification is just one part of a wider strategy to protect children from harm in this digital age. We will continue to take action against cyber bullying, sexualised content, self-harm and suicide sites, extremism content, and child sexual abuse online.

The UK is a world leader in this field and it’s one of the Prime Minister’s top priorities.

But the Government can’t do this alone. We all have a part to play and a duty of care to protect our children.

Parents and guardians have a particularly important role - there’s a wealth of information at saferinternet.org.uk and I urge everyone who is responsible for a child to visit the site and, through a few simple steps, commit to doing what they can to make the internet a safer place for children and young people.

Source: The Scottish Sun

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