ATVOD: 34 U.K. Porn Sites Violated Rule 11

Dec 1, 2014 9:45 AM PST

LONDON — Video-on-demand regulator ATVOD today said it found 34 adult websites to be in breach of Rule 11, the U.K. statute that requires operators to make sure those under 18 can't access hardcore porn.

ATVOD's announcement over the Rule 11 violations comes the same day that strict new prohibitions went into force barring U.K.-based adult sites from distributing the hardest of hardcore porn.

Rule 11 requires an effective CAC system that verifies that the user is 18 or over at the point of registration or access by the mandatory use of technical tools for age verification.

The 34 sites that were found to have breached Rule 11 include gay site and those from Candy Girl Productions, which operates 33 websites through subscription networks and

ATVOD said that's operator, known only as "Mr. Hosford," broke the statutory rules in two ways.

"Firstly, it allowed any visitor free, unrestricted access to hardcore pornographic video promos/trailers or still images featuring real sex in explicit detail," ATVOD officials said. "Secondly, access to the full videos was open to any visitor who paid a fee. As the service accepted payment methods – such as debit cards — which can be used by under 18s, ATVOD held that the service had also failed to put in place effective access controls in relation to the full videos."

Candy Girl Productions, a service spanning 33 websites through two access points, did not allow free access to explicit images of real sex but did allow any visitor who paid a fee access to videos containing such material, ATVOD officials said.

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The operator of Candy Girl Productions, known only as "Ms. Jenkins," lodged an appeal with chief U.K. communications regulator Ofcom against a separate ruling, also published today, that the service falls within the scope of the statutory rules.

ATVOD's rulings coincide on the same day that new statutory rules banning the most extreme content come into force for U.K.

Under the new rules, introduced through the Audiovisual Media Service Regulations 2014, material that would be refused a classification by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will be prohibited on a U.K. VOD site.

"Under the new rules, material which is banned from sale on a DVD in the U.K. will also be banned from U.K. VOD services," ATVOD Chair Ruth Evans said. "This is particularly likely to affect pornographic videos which feature violence, coercion or abusive scenarios such as incest. If you can’t walk into a licensed sex shop and buy it, nor will you be able to view it at home on a video on demand service regulated by ATVOD from today."

So far, ATVOD, has targeted 170 adult websites since being designated as a regulatory authority four years ago.

In other ATVOD news today, the regulatory agency's CEO admitted that getting the payments industry and E.U. officials on board with a plan to prevent payments flowing to foreign porn sites not employing a CAC system has been a challenge.

In an effort to impose Rule 11 on foreign porn sites, ATVOD has advocated a “follow the money” approach with MasterCard, PayPal and Visa Europe. Those companies, however, have said that the laws on the book are murky over financially penalizing porn sites.

"We have worked with the U.K. payments industry to design a process which could be used to prevent payments to foreign websites which allow U.K. children to access hardcore porn," Pete Johnson, who leads ATVOD as CEO, told XBIZ. "The payments industry has made clear that to implement such a process it would require greater certainty over the illegality of such websites under U.K. law than currently exists."

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