Two key child protection changes have been made to the Bill.

The first was for the new age verification regulator to be given the power to block a site from accessing the UK market if the site did not put in place robust age-verification checks. CARE campaigned for this, as otherwise the Bill contained no credible enforcement mechanism, making it ineffective in practise. Giving the UK regulator the power to cut off non-compliant pornographic sites from the UK market incentivises companies to put in place these checks.

CARE worked closely with Claire Perry MP on this issue who tabled an amendment to the Digital Economy Bill which gave the regulator blocking powers. It was signed by 35 MPs from six parties. The Government responded by conceding the need for the change and then introduced their own amendment with the same effect. It was passed on Monday evening.

The next key amendment closed the loophole in the Bill which only required British providers of R18 material to put in place age-verification for R18 rated pornography, which would have led to a double-standard between British and foreign-based sites. CARE worked closely with Fiona Bruce MP who tabled an amendment to address this concern. Again the Government responded by acknowledging that there was a need for the change and introducing its own amendment to that effect which was again passed on Monday night.

These amendments live up to the Conservative Party’s manifesto commitment to “stop children’s exposure to harmful sexualised content online, by requiring age-verification for accessing all sites containing pornographic material.

A major NSPCC report this year warned how 53 per cent of 11-16 year olds have seen graphic porn content online and that it was severely damaging how they viewed sex and relationships. This underlies the importance of having a bill that can prohibit children from accessing explicit content online.

Source : www.care.org.uk


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