Google Play criticised for offering pornographic novels after similar Kobo discovery last year

Google has faced criticism from some sections of society after graphic adult novels were found alongside normal books on its Play Store and age verification measures only require the reader to be 13 years old.

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A report in the Daily Telegraph states that there are over 100 books that contain large numbers of graphic images are being sold alongside books that in some cases are children’s titles.

There is reportedly no age verification in place on the site or parental restrictions and users simply have to prove they are 13 years old. This then gives anyone access to free samples of the books that can be viewed on tablets, smartphones and computers.

Google Play is by no means the only eBook store to have been inundated with adult titles and a hands-on look at the Kobo Aura by ITProPortal.com’s James Laird back in April found large numbers of softcore pornographic titles listed.

Many of these are as a result of Kobo’s Writing Life initiative and again there was evidence of softcore pornographic titles finding a way into the children’s titles section.

One concerned parent has already raised the issue with her local MP, Stephen Barclay, a Tory backbencher, and she also contacted Google but was informed by the company that it was beyond its control.

Google has argued that it doesn’t issue age ratings for books as no system exists to certify them and has compared the situation to that of a high street book shop by stating that “a 13–year-old could freely walk into any book store and browse/purchase any book he/she chose to pick up”.

This was backed up by Brandon Cook, lead officer for age restricted products at the Trading Standards, who stated that shops have the same issues and there is no law to stop someone buying an adult book.

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“It's the same as going into a book shop,” he told The Daily Mail. “Owners might take a moral stance, but there is no law that stops someone from buying an adult book. It's peculiar. For some reason, printed literature or now the equivalent has never been picked up in the same way films are picked up. I don’t know if there will be a change in the law, because when you talk about online, you’re talking about worldwide stuff and it’s a whole minefield...I don't think anyone really knows the answer.”