David Cameron: Porn Must Be Restricted to Adults
LONDON — Prime Minister David Cameron this week warned that porn sites will face being shut down unless its operators take action to stop children accessing their sexually explicit material.
Cameron’s statement comes after the House of Lords debated the Online Safety Bill 2015 at a second reading earlier this month.
That bill, which is wending its way through Parliament, provides for additional age-verification provisions for U.K. ISPs and mobile service providers offering adult content and the licensing of foreign porn sites.
Cameron said that if under-18s aren’t locked out from viewing porn, he will take action.
"Our one nation government is working hard to make the Internet a safer place for children," he said. "The next step in this campaign is to curb access to harmful pornographic content which is currently far too widely available.
"I want to see age restrictions put into place or these websites will face being shut down."
Cameron’s call for age checks, however, have been answered by questions over how he intends to broadly implement a directive that likely will include credit cards upon site registration.
Jim Killock, the executive director of Open Rights Group who spoke at XBIZ London last year, told the International Business Times that Cameron needs to clarify how he wishes to achieve his goals, given that most porn sites are hosted abroad and that government only has the power to shut down U.K.-based sites.
"To block them, the government would have to introduce a national firewall, which would censor sites for everyone, and would likely be widely circumvented," Killock said.
Upon orders from Cameron, ISPs in the past few years have introduced filters blocking adult content, meaning users have to opt-out to view explicit content.
In addition, ATVOD, the country’s video-on-demand regulator, has upped its enforcement in the past year of porn sites that lack age-verification checks through credit card processing.
ATVOD this month said that the number of porn websites it has taken action against has “risen sharply,” a figure that is fivefold — 137 websites in 2014-15 compared to 27 sites in 2013-14.
ATVOD’s main enforcement weapons include Rule 11, a U.K. statute that requires operators to make sure those under 18 can't access hardcore porn, and Rule 14, which outlaws VOD websites from containing "prohibited material" — content that would be denied a British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) certificate.
XBIZ London 2015, presented by Epoch, will deliver a number of educational sessions discussing the current business climate for distributors of adult content in the U.K., as well as those who market it from abroad.
The conference, set for Sept. 15-18 at the Hilton DoubleTree Tower of London Hotel, unites the U.K.’s adult industry with the European and broader international online business communities to deliver a range of exclusive business insights and executive deal-making that sets the stage for the fall show season.
Pictured: Prime Minister David Cameron