UK Government Makes Major Changes To Porn Websites To Better Protect Children

The UK is implementing new rules that will require pornographic websites to install age verification controls to limit children's access to potentially harmful content.

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Pornography is just two clicks away on some of the most popular websites children and adults visit on a daily basis.

In fact, security technology company Bitdefender's new research has found that children under the age of 10 now account for 22 per cent of online porn consumption under 18-years-old, which is sure to distort, damage and misinform their understanding of sexual relationships and decision-making.

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However, the UK has made big steps in improving a child's protection from porn online.

By April 2018, pornography websites supplying porn to UK residents 'on a commercial basis' will be legally required to install age verification controls as part of a move to make the internet safer for children, reports the BBC.

The plans – which will be announced by the government tomorrow – will see users also potentially asked to provide information from a credit card (which can't be legally issued to anyone under the age of 18) in the same way that gambling websites do.

Any company found to break the rules, set out in the Digital Economy Act, could face being blocked by their internet provider and £250,000 fines. Any firm supplying payment and other services to the website could also be notified about the breach.

While it's yet to be confirmed, the regulatory body which will oversee and enforce the standards is thought to be the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), which is in charge of setting age ratings for films and previously set age limits for computer games.

The new regulations will be detailed in the Digital Economy Act, which aims to build a 'strong, safe and connected economy', according to digital minister Matt Hancock.

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The BBC reports Hancock added: 'It will secure better support for consumers, better protection for children on the internet, and underpin a radical transformation of government services.'

According to the minister, the new rules will mean that children will be able to roam the internet with far more safety as 'the UK will have the most robust internet child protection measures of any country in the world'.

News of a change in legislation has gone down well with children's charities, with chief executive of internet safety charity Childnet Will Gardner celebrating the government's prioritisation of child safety.

'Protecting children from exposure, including accidental exposure, to adult content is incredibly important, given the effect it can have on young people. Steps like this to help restrict access, alongside the provision of free parental controls and education, are key,' he told the Independent.

An NSPCC report published last year found that just under half of 11-to-16-year-olds and more than a quarter of 11-to-12-year-olds have viewed pornography online, with over a quarter coming across it while browsing.

What's more alarming is that, given the often sexist and demeaning nature of pornographic content online, 44 per cent of boys, compared to 29 per cent of girls, revealed that the content they'd viewed had given them an idea of what types of sexual acts they'd like to try out in the future.

We're glad to see the British government making steps to limit the danger pornography can have on a child's development.

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