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ATVOD given new powers as it rules that 34 UK websites failed to protect children from online porn

News article: 1st December 2014

ATVOD GIVEN NEW POWERS AS IT RULES THAT 34 UK WEBSITES FAILED TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM ONLINE PORN


ATVOD publishes determinations that two further ‘adult’ services – operating across 34 websites - breached statutory rules requiring UK video on demand providers to keep hardcore porn out of reach of children as new rules for UK video on demand services come into force

 

Two more providers of on-line porn – operating across 34 websites - have fallen foul of media regulators for failing to keep hardcore porn videos and still images beyond the reach of children.

 

Videos featuring explicit images of real sex could be accessed by children on the internet services, in breach of a statutory rule.

 

Today’s findings by the Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD) bring to more than 170 the number of porn websites against which the regulator has acted over the past three years for failing to protect children.

 

The two online video on demand services – Candy Girl Productions and Scott XXX - were held to be in breach of a statutory rule which requires that material which might seriously impair under 18’s can only be made available if access is blocked to children. The Candy Girl Productions service operated across 33 linked websites.

 

The services allowed under 18s access to explicit hardcore porn videos which could be viewed on-demand. Yet the content of the videos was equivalent to that which could be sold only to adults in licensed sex shops if supplied on DVD. 

 

The Scott XXX service 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. 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 18’s, ATVOD  held that the service had also failed to put in place effective access controls in relation to the full videos.

 

The operator of Candy Girl Productions – the service spanning 33 websites – 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. As the service accepted payment methods – such as debit cards – which can be used by under 18’s, ATVOD  held that the service had failed to put in place effective access controls in relation to the full videos. The provider of Candy Girl Productions has lodged an appeal with Ofcom against a separate ruling – also published today – that the service falls within the scope of the statutory rules.

 

The rulings come on the day that new statutory rules banning the most extreme content come into force for UK video on demand services regulated by ATVOD. Under the new rules – introduced through the Audiovisual Media Service Regulations 2014 – material which would be refused a classification by the British Board of Film Classification (“BBFC”) will be prohibited on a UK video on demand service. This means that content which cannot lawfully be distributed on a DVD can no longer lawfully be distributed on a video on demand service operated from the UK.

 

Despite its latest action and new powers, 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 Chair Ruth Evans said:

 

“Under the new rules, material which is banned from sale on a DVD in the UK  will also be banned from UK video on demand services. 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.


ATVOD will also 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 both inside and outside the UK. We strongly support initiatives designed to improve the take up of parental control software.”


ATVOD Chief Executive Pete Johnson said:


“ Almost 90% of British adults think it is important that UK providers are required to take the steps set out in the ATVOD Rules and Guidance to ensure that under 18’s can’t see hardcore porn material[1]. We have made good progress in ensuring that UK operators of regulated VOD services comply with those rules, but we are not complacent and will continue to monitor relevant services and act as required.


Our recent 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.”


The full text of the determinations can be found at:

 

Scott XXX Breach of Rule 11 Determination
Candy Girl Productions Breach of Rule 11 Determination

[1] According to ICM Research, full details at:

 http://www.atvod.co.uk/news-consultations/news-consultationsnews/20121203-porn-and-hatred-online