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Annual Report details action taken against 20 UK websites which allowed children to access hardcore pornography

News article: 17 July 2014

ATVOD ACTS TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM HARDCORE PORN ON UK VOD SERVICES


Annual Report details action taken against 20 UK websites which allowed children to access hardcore pornography and highlights the problem of websites operated from outside the UK


Tough action aimed at protecting children from hardcore porn videos on line has been revealed by one of Britain’s media regulators.

 

The Authority for Television On Demand – co-regulator of editorial content in UK video on demand services – has today published its annual report detailing steps taken by ATVOD in the year to 31 March 2014 to protect children from hardcore porn on regulated video on demand (“VOD”) services. This included action against a service run by JP Media which resulted in the first ever use of powers to suspend the right to provide a VOD service. The porn video site operated by JP Media had failed to ensure that under 18s could not access hardcore porn content on the UK operated websites. 

 

The JP Media service was among 16 services – operating across 20 websites - found to be in breach of the statutory rules in 2013-14 because they featured hardcore porn material which could be accessed by under 18’s.

 

Of the 16 services, 14 acted to make changes to bring the service into compliance or closed. The remaining two were transferred to the control of a company based in The Netherlands. Although regulated under the same EU Directive, the Dutch regulatory authority does not share ATVOD’s view that hardcore pornography might seriously impair under 18s and so on-demand services provided from that jurisdiction are not required to have in place the sort of age verification and access control systems required by ATVOD in the UK.

 

ATVOD counsels against complacency as most websites which allow UK children to access hardcore pornography operate from outside the UK and therefore fall outside ATVOD’s remit. ATVOD has therefore worked with policy makers to consider how children might be better protected from pornography online.

 

ATVOD Chief Executive Pete Johnson said:


“We have made good progress in ensuring that UK operators of regulated VOD services comply with rules designed to protect children from harmful content, but we are not complacent and will continue to monitor relevant services and act as required.


“Our  enforcement activity has sent a clear message that UK providers of hardcore pornography on demand must take effective steps to ensure that such material is not accessible to under-18’s. Asking visitors to a website to click an ‘I am 18’ button or enter a date of birth or use a debit card is not sufficient – if they are going to offer explicit sex material they must know that their customers are 18, just as they would in the ‘offline’ world.”


ATVOD Chair Ruth Evans said:

 

“ATVOD will continue to discuss with policy makers further options for reducing the exposure of children to pornography and other potentially harmful VOD material on websites based outside the UK . We strongly support initiatives designed to improve the take up of parental control software and have worked with the Department for Culture Media and Sport on the drafting of legislation which will prohibit on UK based VOD services any material which would not be classified for sale on a DVD.”


In addition to the 16 breaches relating to the provision of hardcore pornography, the authority also details in its Annual Report a further 56 breaches of the statutory rules, giving a total of 72 breaches during 2013-14 – an increase of 200% on the previous year.

 

The 2014 Annual Report also highlights:

 

      - Research showing the scale of underage access to adult websites;
      - Action taken to encourage service providers to make their services more accessible to people with disabilities relating to  sight or hearing; and
      - Work undertaken with industry to provide clearer guidance on the scope of the regulations ATVOD is charged with enforcing.

 

ATVOD’s 2014 Annual Report is published at:

 

http://www.atvod.co.uk/about-ATVOD