Children accessing pornography
The law applies to pornography (defined as an image “of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal”) Whether or not an image is “pornographic” is up to the magistrate (or jury) to determine by looking at the image. It is not a question of the intentions of those who produced the image. Age-verification was approved as part of the Digital Economy Bill in a bid to stop under 18s accessing inappropriate content and UK Government has designated the British Board of Film Classification as the age verification regulator. In January 2019, plans to age check all users of commercial porn sites were approved by the government body – the Regulatory Policy Committee – who dubbed them ‘fit for purpose’. Under the law, online commercial pornography must be placed behind robust age-verification barriers to prevent children from seeing content which isn’t appropriate for them. Also, it should not contain extreme pornography, as defined by the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. These changes will only affect commercial pornography websites. This means that pornography found elsewhere online, perhaps on a social media platform, will not be covered and therefore will not behind an age wall. The regulator, the BBFC, is required to report to Parliament annually on the effectiveness of the regulations and so there may be scope to change the regulations in the future.
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