#Public Sector

Age checks should be mandatory for pornography websites says ATVOD

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Users should be allowed access to pornography websites only when they prove they are over 18 years of age, a UK industry regulator said. In order to protect children from being exposed to graphic content online, Atvod, the Authority for Television on Demand, said there is a need to change the laws.

According to BBC, a recent research by the online video regulator revealed that that around 6 percent of children aged 15 or under had accessed an adult website over the course of a month.

As per the report, 5 percent of visitors to adult sites were under 18. It was also found that one pornography website was visited by 112,000 boys in the UK aged between 12 and 17.

The statistics were arrived at after monitoring equipment was installed on 45,000 desktop computers and laptops and online habits of the users were monitored for over a month with volunteers reflecting a cross-section of the population.

Atvod said that the issue of children having access to pornography material online was so urgent that it was “critical the legislation is enacted during this Parliament.”

To address the issue, the UK regulator is insisting that license for adult sites should be given to only those websites which comply with legislation to carry out age checks and those websites that do not adhere to the legislation should be forbidden from processing payments from British customers.

An Atvod spokesman said: “The material that appears on the free services is placed there by the paid services to attract customers to sign up to subscriptions.

“As long as the paid service placed content on a free service without age verification it would be in breach of its licensing conditions and so would not be able to access funds from the UK.

“We’re not saying this will stop all children seeing all pornography online. But our argument is that even if you reduce the number of children who are accessing hardcore pornography online by 10%, that would be a significant win.”