Overwhelming public support for 'Age Verification' on porn sites


86% of people surveyed, support a legal requirement to prevent children's access to online pornography.


Today, the Centre for Gender & Equality across all Media (GEM) at Durham University releases a new poll showing that an overwhelming majority (86%) of people surveyed, support a legal requirement to prevent children's access to online pornography. We are proud to announce the findings in our new briefing, available here, which outlines our recommendations for strengthening the proposed age verification measures in the Digital Economy Bill, due to be discussed in parliament Thursday.


Poll supports need for age verification We welcome the Government’s proposals to prevent children’s access to online commercial pornography due to its adverse impacts on gender inequality and young people. This polling supports the proposals in the Digital Economy Bill being discussed in Parliament today (Thursday) to introduce age-verification measures to ensure that anyone accessing a pornographic website in the UK is over the age of 18. Poll supports blocking non-compliant websites The poll also found considerable public support (78%) for Government action to ensure websites of companies not complying with age-verification measures are blocked. The Government has so far refused to amend the Bill to include blocking non-compliant websites.


We are making 4 key recommendations to strengthen current proposals and to ensure that action on pornography is firmly located in government committments to ending gender inequality.

  • More effective enforcement mechanisms are required, such as blocking non-compliant websites
  • The Government must ensure restrictions cover social media
  • Limiting access to pornography is only part of the solution. Compulsory, age-appropriate sex and relationships education on issues of equality, respect and consent is vital.
  • Action on pornography to be placed within the wider context of gender inequality, including inequality for young people, and violence against women and girls.


The Centre for Gender Equality across all Media says:

'From my experience working with young people in sexual violence prevention, pornography is repeatedly implicated in restricting young women’s sexual agency, and in pressuring young men to prove their masculinity. We need a holistic approach that includes legislative action such as current government proposals, alongside compulsory, age-appropriate, sex and relationships education focussing on issues of equality, respect and consent." (Dr Fiona Vera-Gray of Durham University and GEM Co-Founder)
‘If the Government wishes to restrict children’s access to pornography, the new law must be effective. Blocking non-compliant websites is one way to strengthen the proposals. While some young people will no doubt manage to evade some restrictions, this new law will limit accidental exposure. It will also send an important message that pornography is not appropriate material for children."  (Professor Clare McGlynn of Durham University and GEM Co-Founder)

Footnotes

  1. ICM Poll data: 2048 people were polled by ICM in July 2016. The data is weighted to the nationally representative profile of adults in Great Britain by gender, age and region. The poll was commissioned by the Centre for Gender Equal Media at Durham University.
  2. Participants were asked to respond to the following statement: ‘Pornography websites and social media companies should be legally required to prevent children accessing online pornography’. 86% of respondents agreed, with higher overall support from women (90%) than men (82%).
  3. Participants were also asked to respond to the following statement: ‘Websites that allow children to access pornography should be blocked by the Government.’ Overall, 78% of respondents agreed, with higher support from women (85%) then men (70%).
  4. The Digital Economy Bill is currently before Parliament and proposals on age-verification are being discussed in the Public Bill Committee on Thursday 20th October 2016. The Bill allows for two means of enforcement: websites refusing to comply can be issued with a financial penalty and/or regulator may give notice of non-compliance to any payment-provider services (credit card companies).
  5. The evidence submission of the Centre for Gender Equal Media in the Government Consultation on Age Verification Restrictions is available here: http://genderequalmedia.org.uk/blog/gem-response-to-child-safety-online-age-verification-for-pornography
  6. For further information and press enquiries, please contact: Professor Clare McGlynn, @McGlynnClare. Clare McGlynn is a Professor of Law at Durham University and an expert on the legal regulation of pornography. She has worked closely with MPs, Government and voluntary organisations to introduce the new laws in England & Wales, and Scotland, to criminalise ‘revenge pornography’ and extreme pornography. She is a Co-founder of the Centre for Gender Equal Media at Durham University. Further info: https://claremcglynn.com. Press release available here

 


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