UK Government Pulls Controversial ‘Porn Block’ Plan

KNUTSFORD, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 29: In this photograph illustration a ten-year-old boy uses an Apple Ipad tablet computer on November 29, 2011 in Knutsford, United Kingdom. Tablet computers have become the most wanted Christmas present for children between the ages of 6-11 years. Many parents are having to share …
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The government of the United Kingdom has dropped a controversial plan to enact stringent age restrictions on porn sites.

The so-called ‘Porn Block’ was set to take effect in April of 2018; however, pushback over the effectiveness of the measure and concerns over privacy delayed the implementation of the bill.

The British Board of Film Classification, the department responsible for the age ratings of films, would have been tasked with enforcing the policy. The government would have targeted the payment providers of websites that did not comply with the law.

Critics of the bill pointed to privacy concerns over users being forced to provide ID to pornography companies, saying the system would be rife with blackmail and scams.

Others pointed to the ineffectiveness of the bill in a world in which Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) which mask the identity of the user, are widely available. Another perceived flaw in the legislation was that sites like Twitter and Reddit, which also host pornographic material, would not have been covered in the bill.

Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan in a written statement on Wednesday said that the government would not be “commencing” with the age restriction portion of the 2017 Digital Economy Act.

She went on to say that: “Adult content is too easily accessed online and more needs to be done to protect children from harm…this includes age verification tools and we expect them to continue to play a key role in protecting children online.”

The government alluded to a “duty of care” that pornography purveyors would have to abide by, but did not give specific details on what that would entail.

A 2016 NSPCC study linking pornography with developmental damage in children found that nearly 50 per cent of children between the ages of 11 to 16 had viewed pornography on the internet. Of those children, 28 per cent had viewed the porn accidentally, while 19 per cent had intentionally searched for it.

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