Bishop of Derby calls for age verification for pornography online

On 11th June 2020 Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the research by the British Board of Film Classification on the extent of exposure of children and teens to harmful or upsetting content while in lockdown, published on 4 May.” The Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Libby Lane, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I echo the concern about the Government’s lack of progress in introducing the measures outlined in their online harms White Paper. The BBFC report found that children are increasingly using pornography as an educational tool, which appears to be normalising such access in childhood. That means that, particularly during the lockdown, there is an increased risk of children being exposed to harmful content.

I am particularly concerned that the report also shows that irresponsible commercial adult websites have benefited from the Government’s delay on age verification and are offering access to behind-the-paywall content for free, without age verification. This content is likely to be more extreme and violent. Will the Minister condemn this irresponsible behaviour, agree urgently to look again at age verification for pornography online, and commit to bringing forward online harms legislation as a priority?

Baroness Barran: Bringing forward the legislation remains a priority. We will respond to the consultation this autumn and, as I have said several times, the legislation will be brought forward in this Session. We are also implementing the Audiovisual Media Services Directive this autumn, which will provide higher levels of protection for children around accessing harmful content.


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