The UK will become the first country in the world to bring in age-verification for online pornography when the measures come into force on 15 July 2019.
- Porn sites must check age of users or risk facing sanctions
- New approach is the first of its kind in the world, and puts in place the same protections that exist offline
- Stricter measures in place to protect users’ data and privacy
The UK will become the first country in the world to bring in age-verification for online pornography when the measures come into force on 15 July 2019.
It means that commercial providers of online pornography will be required by law to carry out robust age-verification checks on users, to ensure that they are 18 or over. The move is backed by 88% of UK parents with children aged 7-17, who agree there should be robust age-verification controls in place to stop children seeing pornography online
Websites that fail to implement age-verification technology face having payment services withdrawn or being blocked for UK users.
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the new laws. They have confirmed that they will begin enforcement on 15 July, following an implementation period to allow websites time to comply with the new standards.
Minister for Digital Margot James said:
Adult content is currently far too easy for children to access online. The introduction of mandatory age-verification is a world-first, and we’ve taken the time to balance privacy concerns with the need to protect children from inappropriate content. We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this.
Government has listened carefully to privacy concerns and is clear that age-verification arrangements should only be concerned with verifying age, not identity. In addition to the requirement for all age-verification providers to comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standards, the BBFC have created a voluntary certification scheme, the Age-verification Certificate (AVC), which will assess the data security standards of AV providers. The AVC has been developed in cooperation with industry, with input from government.
Certified age-verification solutions which offer these robust data protection conditions will be certified following an independent assessment and will carry the BBFC’s new green ‘AV’ symbol. Details will also be published on the BBFC’s age-verification website, ageverificationregulator.com so consumers can make an informed choice between age-verification providers.
BBFC Chief Executive David Austin said:
The introduction of age-verification to restrict access to commercial pornographic websites to adults is a ground breaking child protection measure. Age-verification will help prevent children from accessing pornographic content online and means the UK is leading the way in internet safety.
On entry into force, consumers will be able to identify that an age-verification provider has met rigorous security and data checks if they carry the BBFC’s new green ‘AV’ symbol.
The change in law is part of the Government’s commitment to making the UK the safest place in the world to be online, especially for children. It follows last week’s publication of the Online Harms White Paper which set out clear responsibilities for tech companies to keep UK citizens safe online, how these responsibilities should be met and what would happen if they are not.
Read the full media release here.
Collective Shout is calling for implementation of the UK age-verification laws here in Australia.
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The Child Rescue Coalition has warned parents about the risks of posting intimate photos of their children, as well as using certain hashtags that can be accessed and misused by predators. It is a reminder to parents to take great care when posting images of their children on social media, to consider their privacy settings and possible risks to their children.
#ToddlerBikini and the ‘adultification’ of children
Psychologists, health professionals and child advocates have spoken out about the harmful impacts of sexualisation and ‘adultification’ of children. Adultification occurs when children are deliberately posed and styled to appear much older than they are, as high fashion ‘mini-me adults’ in adult attire. There is substantial research to suggest that premature sexualisation or adultification negatively impacts children’s natural development and puts girls at risk of exploitation and abuse.
Given evidence of the harmful impacts of sexualising and adultifying children, the practice by some parents of posting pictures of their female toddlers in skimpy bikinis alongside the hashtag #ToddlerBikini is troubling.
Dr Emma Rush, co-author of the report Corporate Paedophilia, told ABC:
“Children are not a reflection of the adult’s personal style...they’re not a miniature adult, they’re not a fashion accessory, they’re a developing human being and they need the cultural space to be just that.”
Photo sharing and risks to children
Once the image has been shared publicly, the owner no longer has control over it. A study by Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) revealed that 88% of sexual or suggestive images and videos posted by young people on social media sites are being stolen by ‘parasite’ porn sites. Of the 12,224 images and videos monitored on 68 different websites, 10,776 were later found on parasite websites. Parents need to be aware that once posted online, they may no longer retain control of where their child’s image ends up or how it might be used.
The sharing of sexualised images of girls puts them at risk from paedophiles. In 2015 we published a piece by dance teacher and writer Jemma Nicoll, who exposed the exploitation of girls in the dance industry. Nicoll followed the Instagram account of a prominent US dancewear company, California Kisses, which featured highly sexualised images of young girls, as young as 5-7, sometimes alongside suggestive slogans.
(Note: ‘Pop that’ refers to the ‘popping’ of a girl’s cherry or the taking of her virginity. It is a popular porn genre.)
The company’s recklessness didn’t end there, with California Kisses failing to moderate frequent sexual and predatory comments from adult men directed towards female children, including requests for sexual acts.
The devastating emotional impact on children
Just this week, a woman has won her fight to get nude photos taken of her as a child removed from several prominent New Zealand art galleries. The victim claimed the photos, taken by her artist mother, were “child pornography masquerading as art”, calling on the Government to protect children from exploitation.
In her submission to the Film and Literature Board, the victim indicated the photographs represented her in a way that was harmful, and that as a naked child model she was subject to a power imbalance and unable to render consent.
The woman, who was also a victim of child sexual abuse, told the board that if the images were to outlive her they “will continue to remind her of that time of her life, oppressing and humiliating her.”
The Board banned two photos. The first picture suggested “sexual availability and experience”, with the victim “made up to look older than her years”, found the board. The second banned photograph was taken when the victim was 10.
Board President Rachel Schmidt-McCleave stated:
“The image seeks to make a statement about sexual availability and power that ought not to be made in the case of a child or young person. There is no doubt that depiction of a child in this way... is injurious.”
“The board is of the view that depicting young persons being older than they are and being sexually available normalises the sexualisation of young women and forms part of a continuous desensitising of the public to the sexualisation of children and young people and is therefore harmful to those children and injurious to the public good.”
Online child safety advocate Rachel Downie says parents are unaware of about 80 per cent of what their teen engages in on the internet at home.
Ms Downie, a former teacher, told ABC she had surveyed more than 20,000 students over the last five years, asking "what's something you do on the internet at home that you know you're not allowed to do?"
The results were concerning, with teens viewing violent real-life content, such as fights, muggings and pornography that looks non-consensual.
Photo by Rachel Downie
Ms Downie said 51 per cent of children, mostly boys, had viewed pornography or other illicit material, while one-fifth of respondents admitted to bullying, trolling and stalking for fun.
For some behaviours, the children themselves were screaming out for stronger regulation.
She said parents were often unaware of how far "down the spiral kids are".
"After every presentation, and it's usually with mums, they want to come chat to me afterwards about the fact that their 12, 13, 14-year-old son is addicted to pornography.
Ms Downie said it is a confusing, unchartered time for parents, exacerbated by the demands of school and society for children to be technologically savvy.
"What we're doing is 'ping, you're 12 here's your phone', 'ping you're 13, here's your own computer' and it's happening much earlier.
Ms Downie went on to give advice to parents on what they can do:
Ultimately, Ms Downie said adequate parental supervision and keeping conversations open is the key to tackling the issue.
"If you're not checking you wouldn't know, and it's not good enough anymore to say 'hey my 12-year-old daughter is a great kid, I really trust her'.
"I'm certainly not an advocate for banning everything because that's not the world we live in, but I am a very strong advocate for your need to know what they're doing.
"It's about being a grown-up and being the boss and getting your techno power back and saying, 'look we're going to set some boundaries around this stuff at home'."
Ms Downie said having those conversations with children and teens was crucial to building helping young people cope in the real and emotional online world.
Opening those lines of communication and setting boundaries should be done earlier, than later.
OPINION: Psychologists here say we're in the middle of a porn crisis.
Just last year an Australian study found 100 percent of boys surveyed were exposed to porn, and 85 percent said they viewed it daily or weekly.
In the US, six states are declaring pornography a public health crisis. Even The New York Times is calling on officials to ban it.
But while it's easy to tell the government they should be doing something, this is one of those issues where actually, it's what you do that counts.
I want to talk about pornography.
- Explicit porn being promoted on Instagram
- How to talk to your kids about porn
- Is free pornography destroying our brains?
Except, it's sort of an awkward topic, particularly on TV when kids might be watching, so I've come up with a solution.
For the next couple of minutes instead of the word 'porn', I’m going to say the word 'corn'. Just tell your children we're talking about corn.
When I was young, you never saw corn. Maybe some kid would bring his dad's corn to school and you’d pass it round, but it was pretty tame. Some of them were still wearing their husks.
Now as you probably know, corn is everywhere. You don’t even have to buy it from a dairy, you just open your laptop or phone and it’s there ready to go.
As a guy it's tempting and easy - like grabbing a cold beer out of the fridge. But it's this easiness that I want to talk about tonight.
Next time you start typing "cornhub" into your address bar, take a moment and remember this.
You are slowly destroying your own ability to have normal sex with another normal human.
Here's what clinical psychologist Dr Mark Thorpe, who deals with this stuff all the time, said.
"We are in the middle of a crisis. There is an extreme amount of sexual problems with young men under 25 - and that manifests as erectile dysfunction; delayed ejaculation; diminished libido with real life partners, not screen; and an avoidance of genuine relationships."
That's right, every time you go online to get off, you're making your own corncob look more like this.
Yep, that thing in the top left corner. Photo credit: The Project
The more corn you consume, the harder corn you're going to need.
Here's Dr Thorpe again: "The brain and internet porn are geared towards it, so there is the natural tendency to slide into more and more difficult things.
"It's a bit like what you mentioned with drugs, you need greater hits you need greater variety so it goes more and more into aggressive, difficult, punitive content."
These are real people in these videos.
Somebody's daughter, someone's sister. Some of them do a good job of looking like this is their first-choice career, but don't kid yourself.
At least admit that by using corn we're effectively helping a huge corporate to make women and girls do things they don't really want to do, so that men like us will feel good for a few seconds.
Take some ownership of what this is doing to New Zealand kids.
It is estimated 88 percent of online pornography is violent. By supporting this industry we're supporting our latest form of sex education, where boys learn that slapping, choking and hurting their girlfriends is a form of intimacy, and girls grow up thinking they're meant to act like the women in the videos because that's the only sex they've ever seen.
If hearing this stuff makes you want to make a change, I've been working with Dr Thorpe on a set of tips to move on from porn.
It's on The Project's Facebook page. If you're worried about it showing up in your history, just turn on your private browser first… pretty sure you know how that works.
And look, I'm not going to tell you what to do when the curtains are closed. But I am asking you not to consume pornography with your eyes wide shut.
The internet is messing with us in ways we'll never fully understand, but finding another way to get yourself in the mood is one huge thing you can do to have a positive impact on yourself, your relationship and on your children.
Jesse Mulligan is a presenter on The Project
Read full article here.
Editor’s note: This article includes references to graphic sexual content that may be inappropriate for some readers.
Today teenagers are viewing far more pornography than their parents realize. And the porn they’re watching is much more “hardcore” than moms and dads could possibly imagine.
These were the main messages of “What Teenagers are Learning From Online Porn,” a recent New York Times story by Maggie Jones. It quickly became one of the most read and shared articles.
While this may be a surprise to many American parents who perhaps imagine porn as merely a naked centerfold, it wasn’t to scholars like me who immerse ourselves in the world of mainstream porn. We know how widespread violent, degrading and misogynisticpornography has become, as well as the implications for the emotional, physical and mental health of young people.
In an effort to better understand the problem from a “front-line” perspective, feminist activist Samantha Wechsler and I have been traveling the world talking to parents about the issue. The question we’re asked most often is: “What can we do about it?”
‘Hardcore’ porn is everywhere
Surveys and our own experiences show that parents are deeply concerned about the easy access their kids now have to porn via mobile devices.
The statistics paint a dismal picture. A recent U.K. study found that 65 percent of 15- to 16-year-olds had viewed pornography, the vast majority of whom reported seeing it by age 14. This is especially problematic given the findings of another study that found a correlation between early exposure to pornography and an expressed desire to exert power over women.
Yet for all this concern, they know surprisingly little about what mainstream porn looks like, how much their kids are accessing and how it affects them. The Times article, however, cited a 2016 surveythat suggested most parents are totally unaware of their kids’ porn experiences. Jones called this the “parental naivete gap.”
This matches our own experiences. In the presentations we do at high schools, we ask parents to describe what they think of when they hear the word “porn.” They invariably describe a naked young woman with a coy smile, the kind of image many remember from Playboy centerfolds.
They are shocked when they learn that the images from today’s busiest free porn sites, like Pornhub, depict acts such as women being gagged with a penis or multiple men penetrating every orifice of a woman and then ejaculating on her face. When we tell parents this, the change in the atmosphere of the room is palpable. There is often a collective gasp.
It bears repeating that these are the most visited porn sites – which get more visitors every month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined. Pornhub alone received 21.2 billion visits in 2015. We are not talking about images on the fringe.
Ana Bridges, a psychologist at the University of Arkansas, and her team found that 88 percent of scenes from 50 of the top-rented porn movies contained physical aggression against the female performers – such as spanking, slapping and gagging – while 48 percent included verbal abuse – like calling women names such as “bitch” or “slut.”
Bad for your health
More than 40 years of research from different disciplines has demonstrated that viewing pornography – regardless of age – is associated with harmful outcomes. And studies show that the younger the age of exposure, the more significant the impact in terms of shaping boys’ sexual templates, behaviors and attitudes.
A 2011 study of U.S. college men found that 83 percent reported seeing mainstream pornography in the past 12 months and that those who did were more likely to say they would commit rape or sexual assault (if they knew they wouldn’t be caught) than men who said they had not seen porn.
Another study of young teens found that early porn exposure was correlated with perpetration of sexual harassment two years later.
One of the most cited analyses of 22 studies concluded that pornography consumption is associated with an increased likelihood of committing acts of verbal or physical sexual aggression. And a study of college-aged women found that young women whose male partners used porn experienced lower self-esteem, diminished relationship quality and lower sexual satisfaction.
It begins with parents
Fearing for their children’s well-being, parents at our presentations, whether in Los Angeles, Oslo or Warsaw, want to run home in a panic to have the “porn talk” with their kids.
But in reality, they often have no idea what to say, how to say it, or how to deal with a kid who would rather be anywhere else in the world than sitting across from their parents talking about porn. At the same time, public health research shows that parents are the first line of prevention in dealing with any major social problem that affects their kids.
So what can be done?
Most current efforts focus on teens themselves and educating them about sex and the perils of porn. Although it is crucial to have high-quality programs for teens who have already been exposed, the fact is that this is cleaning up after the fact rather than preventing the mess in the first place.
So a team of academics, public health experts, educators, pediatricians and developmental psychologists – including us – spent two years pooling research to create a program to help parents become that vitalfirst line of defense.
That’s why the nonprofit we set up – Culture Reframed – initially focused on parents of tweens, addressing a key question: How do we prevent kids from being exposed to images of sexual abuse and degradation at that critical stage when they are forming their sexual identities?
What took shape was a 12-module program that introduces parents sequentially to the developmental changes – emotional, cognitive and physical – that tweens undergo and the hypersexualized pop culture that shapes those changes and is the wallpaper of tween lives.
For example, boys learn from music videos, violent video games, mainstream media and porn that “real men” are aggressive and lack empathy, that sex equals conquest, and that to avoid being bullied, they have to wear the mask of masculinity. Girls, on the other hand, learn that they have to look “hot” to be visible, be as passive as a cartoon princess and internalize the male gaze, leading them to self-objectify at an early age.
Navigating the porn minefield
Helping parents grasp the degree to which hypersexualized images shape their tweens encourages them to understand, rather than judge, why their girl wants to look like one of the Kardashians, or why their boy, hazed into hypermasculinity, is at risk of losing his capacity for empathy and connection. This helps parents approach their kids with compassion rather than with frustration and anger that can undermine the parent-child relationship.
Navigating all the minefields of living in today’s toxic porn culture – from sexting and poor self esteem to porn and peer pressure – is very tricky terrain, and parents need all the help they can get.
But ultimately, the Culture Reframed project is about so much more than providing parents with newfound confidence and skills. It’s about taking power back from the porn industry, which is out to hijack the sexuality and humanity of kids in the name of profit, and giving it back to parents.
Samantha Wechsler, interim executive director of Culture Reframed, co-authored this article.
Full article at The Conversation here.
A 22 year old man who was caught with child pornography involving babies, coerced a teenage girl into sending him nude photos before publically humiliating her by posting them to Instagram. At the age of just 20, Alastair Wayne Anning was found with about 10,000 photos and videos of child exploitation which he downloaded using an app he thought was untraceable. Judge Devereaux sentenced him to 18 months imprisonment, suspended after three months.
A Mackay man caught with more than 1000 “disturbing” child pornography images and videos secretly filmed his 15 year old stepdaughter showering with a friend and using the toilet. Judge Dick handed down an 18 month sentence but the man will serve just 5 months in prison before that term is suspended for 2 years.
A paramedic has been charged with possession of “disturbing, repulsive” child pornography images and movies. Police located 13 movies in total and 4426 images – the majority classified as one of the most grossly offensive type of child exploitation material including acts of penetration and sadism. Judge Burnett ordered Parsons to a sentence of 15 months jail, suspended after 2 months.
These are just a few examples of people charged with possession of child exploitation material in the last month. The sentences are very similar, and lenient, across the board.
In early 2017, Collective Shout launched a campaign to hold people who access child exploitation material more accountable for their actions. This accountability also needs to be directed towards internet service providers and their obligation to better monitor what their users are accessing.
We were fortunate to have the opportunity to write a submission for the inquiry into the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Crimes Against Children and Community Protection Measures) Bill 2017. In our submission we agreed wholeheartedly that sentences for accessing child exploitation material needed to be increased. The above examples give you a general cross section of the types of sentences being handed down.
In addition to harsher sentencing, we also called on government to introduce legislation to increase liability for carriers (internet service providers) to more closely monitor and report on people accessing child exploitation material. Some fantastic recommendations came out of the inquiry, including increasing penalties for ISP’s for failing to pass on information, having a more formal reporting process, and allowing the Australian Federal Police to access service users personal details. Unfortunately, due to privacy laws surrounding service provider/service user relationships, ISP’s are not obligated to pass on client information.
The amendments to the Crimes Legislation Bill have already been debated twice in Parliament in 2017 and are scheduled to be debated again early 2018. At this stage, there has been no debate about the responsibilities of ISP’s, just debate around increasing sentencing penalties.
The United Kingdom has introduced “opt in” rules for people wishing to access the internet. If a service user wants to access 18+ content, they have to let their ISP know and provide their credit card details and proof of age. This allows police and ISP’s to better track people who are accessing child exploitation material. In Australia, you have to “opt out” of seeing this content or use internet filters. The UK model is not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction to continue to crack down on people accessing and sharing child exploitation material.
Collective Shout will continue to lobby MP’s and work with other organisations to make sure ISP’s obligations are at the forefront of any bill amendments. Thank you so much for your support during 2017! We could not have achieved what we have without your help.
The fine line between sophistication and sexy. The Feed's Andy Park takes a look at how children and sexuality are portrayed in the images we consume and finds that standards are fluid. And they are changing fast.
Every day, everywhere, we are saturated with images of sexuality. Buy this. Click here. Like us.
But where these images become taboo is at the fringes of what we find acceptable. Especially when they involve children.
Julie Willis is a Gold Coast based photographer who specialises in photographing children from newborns right up to teenagers.
Many of the children Julie photographs are destined to be featured in magazines and advertising.
She says working with mothers who allow their children to model at an early age can sometimes have its challenges.
But it's the reaction to images of children that are viewed by some as sexual, that she can't understand.
"For me, I don't live in world where I look at children in that way or that kind of thing," says Julie. "I think it's people's interpretation of their own childhood, their own life, and whether they've got that disposition within their own upbringing that triggered something."
So is it all about our subjective view or can you draw some more objective standards on what is, and what is not, appropriate for children in media and advertising?
First let's look at how things have changed.
In the 1960s products still very much reflected social attitudes of the day. Barbie was in the kitchen, Ken was looking sporty.
But then suddenly something happened. We changed and Mattel released a new doll.Read more
I was walking … to school on my own … all of a sudden this car drove by on the main road and some guy stopped at the red light, wound down his window, stuck his head out and started whistling at me.
This is an account by an 11-year-old girl of everyday sexism and harrassment – and there are countless others like it. But few children or young people know what to do if they are whistled at, beeped at or stared at when they are out and about in public.
“Street harassment” is defined by the activist group Hollaback! as unwelcome comments, gestures and incidents in public, including on public transport. For those who experience it, walking to school, going out with friends, and using the bus, tram, train or tube can become extremely stressful. Children and young people can worry about going out in public. They can even think that something is wrong with them.
What can be done?
There are some, if limited, reporting options for children and young people who experience street harassment. But it is unlikely that such an incident could be successfully prosecuted under the current relevant UK law, the Public Order Act 1986.
Image: ShutterstockRead more