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postheadericon ‘Victory for pornographers’ as Government drops age-verification check

‘Victory for pornographers’ as Government drops age-verification check

Strict blocks on children viewing pornography online have been dropped by the Government, after years of delay. Campaigners expressed their dismay at the decision, with The Christian Institute calling it a “big victory” for those who produce pornography. The Government said it still wants to protect children from online harms but will look at alternative solutions.

Credit card checks

Legislation on age-verification was first mooted by David Cameron in 2015. The Digital Economy Act – containing the checks – was passed in 2017 but the checks’ implementation was postponed in April 2018 and in June 2019. Checks would have required users to prove their age using traditional forms of ID such as a credit card or passport. The plan faced questions over how technology could be used to
robustly stop children accessing the material, as well as fears that a database of pornography users could be hacked. The Adam Smith Institute led opposition to the clampdown, claiming it would ‘infringe freedom’ and “reduce access to pornography produced for sexual minorities”.

Warning

Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said: “This is a big victory for pornographers and the campaign of the Adam Smith Institute. “It’s a warning for Christians about the values of the libertarian right. Their influence could also lead to other radical changes like the legalisation of drugs.

Family values

“As the sociologist the late Norman Dennis pointed out on family values there is very little to choose between the ‘egotistical left’ and the ‘libertarian right’. Significantly the Liberal Democrats also embrace a wide platform of socially liberal values. “They have shifted far from the values of the historic Liberal party which were so influenced by non-conformist Christians.” In 2016 the Lib Dems opposed the measures, and its current stance on drugs includes support for a “legal, regulated market for cannabis”.

Protect

CARE’s Chief Executive. Nola Leach also expressed dismay at the news. And the NSPCC called it “disappointing” while calling for future efforts to protect children to be “robust and effective”. In a written statement, the Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan said the objectives of the Digital Economy Act will be “delivered through our proposed online harms regulatory regime”. The British Board of Film Classification, which was due to oversee the checks, said: “We will bring our expertise and work closely with government to ensure that the child protection goals” of the Act are achieved.

Christian Institute 17th October 2019

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