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Nicky Morgan caves in to the pornography lobby

The scrapping of planned laws for age-verification for online porn is a blow for child protection, writes JO BARTOSCH

EVEN the most rabid libertarian would struggle to defend the idea that children should be exposed to hardcore pornography, though according to a major investigation by Britain’s chief censor, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), by the age of 11 at least half will have been. 

The BBFC research found that children as young as seven were accessing pornography, with 18 per cent of those between the ages of 11 and 13 having intentionally sought it out.

To combat this the Digital Economy Act, passed in 2017, promised to introduce age-verification technology to safeguard children from pornographic content. 

Effectively an “opt-in” system was proposed, whereby users would have had to prove their age by giving their passport or credit card details online or by buying “porn passes” from newsagents.

This sent the pornography defenders into a sweaty-palmed frenzy, with hyperbolic claims that the system could be hacked leaving pornography users vulnerable to the threat of having their viewing habits made public. 

Thankfully for porn-addled pervs, on Wednesday October 16 2019, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Nicky Morgan MP, announced that the government will be scrapping age-verification for online pornography.

Less than a week before Morgan released the statement on behalf of the DCMS, the owner and three employees of Girls Do Porn, were arrested and charged with sex trafficking

The complainants allege they were coerced and lied to; they were promised jobs as models, though when they arrived on set they “were forced to perform certain sex acts they had declined to do, or they would not be paid or allowed to leave.” 

The suit alleges that Girls Do Porn benefited from exploiting the women, with its websites generating about $17 million.  

At the time of writing this content is still available on PornHub, the world’s largest provider of free online pornography. 

Furthermore, these images of criminal sexual abuse are freely available to children. 

In effect, age verification would have been the equivalent to the banning of plastic straws. A limp response to an overwhelming threat, but a start; a small acknowledgement that a problem exists. 

In rejecting the implementation of age-verification technology, the government has effectively prioritised the right of adult men to watch pornography above the right of everyone to live in a society where rape and abuse are not filmed for entertainment.

Jo Bartosch is director of Click Off, a campaign to end demand for pornography. Please visit their website and consider donating at www.clickoff.org.

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