Porn websites urged to introduce age-verification ‘swiftly’ to protect children

Porn websites should voluntarily introduce age verification software ‘swiftly’ to protect children from harm online, a charity has urged.

Barnardo’s has published an open letter, which has been signed by a dozen organisations, that have called for pornography websites to change their content standards.

The move would bring these websites in line with the British Board of Film Classification’s ratings for violent and pornographic content.

Barnardo’s has claimed many porn websites feature “depictions of practices that meet the definition of criminal standards or sexual violence” – including rape, incest and ‘revenge porn’.

DVDs and Blu-Rays containing this content would be illegal to buy in the UK.

A study, conducted by YouGov, found around seven out of ten adults (69 per cent) agree this content should be made illegal online.

Calls for the voluntary age-verification comes as MPs prepare to debate the new Online Safety Bill, which was recently introduced to Westminster.

The bill would force all commercial pornography websites to implement age-verification.

However, there are fears this could take up to three years for the legislation to become law.

Barnardo’s has said it is already supporting children who are watching extreme and ‘harmful’ pornography – which is having an impact on their mental health, perception of healthy relationships and behaviours.

The charity added the content children are watching is leading to a “normalisation of damaging sexual activity” and increases the risk of children “being exploited and abused” both offline and online.

Lynn Perry MBE, Bernardo’s chief executive, said: “Every day children are seeing harmful pornography online and we must act now to protect them.

“The Government has rightly committed to passing new laws but they could take up to three years to come into force, and in the meantime millions of children could be seeing harmful content millions of times over, with serious consequences for their mental health, their understanding of consent, and their perception of healthy relationships.

“That’s why as a group of organisations supporting children and young people, we are calling on the owners of leading commercial pornography sites to take action by introducing age-verification measures now, before it becomes a legal requirement.”

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https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/science-technology/porn-websites-urged-introduce-age-26605697

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