Thousands of UK kids access porn sites in one month leading to calls for government clampdown

A UK media industry regulator is calling for the government to bring in a new law to make payment verification mandatory on all adult sites in order to prevent children accessing content.

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The Authority for Television On Demand [Atvod] carried out a study that found one in five teenage boys under 18 in the UK logged onto adult sites from a PC in a month and 44,000 primary school children visited a site in one month – figures that have led it to call for tougher government action.

“These findings expose the scale of the problem of child access to pornography on adult websites operated from outside the UK. The Government needs to act urgently with a range of measures to protect children from this content. Key among them is legislation to make it possible for the UK payments industry to prevent funds flowing from this country to websites which allow children to access hardcore pornography,” stated ATVOD chair Ruth Evans.

The results, which were compiled using figures from Nielsen Netview, weren’t draw from hearsay but by tracking what children actually viewed and did online and, as the figures didn’t include smartphones or tablets, the numbers accessing adult content could be a lot higher.

“Even without taking account of access from mobile devices – a substantial slice of the user base according to operators – the UK is clearly a significant market for the online adult industry,” said ATVOD chief executive Peter Johnson. “This makes ‘following the money’ the most compelling strategy for securing enhanced child protection.”

Following the money may not work in this case as large numbers of the sites accessed are either based abroad or free of charge thus meaning that this type of verification likely won't be as effective as Atvod expects.

"It won't make any difference to the sites that give all their videos away for free and sell advertising because they don't need credit card processing," said Jerry Barnett, of free speech campaign group Sex and Censorship, according to the BBC. "And some sites are already accepting bitcoin and other anonymous online payment systems. A clampdown on card payments would just accelerate this trend. Even if implemented, this measure would have no effect on the range of content available to British consumers."

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A number of UK ISPs, including Virgin Media and Sky, have already rolled out pornographic filters in order to clamp down on children accessing adult content and Atvod’s comments will only strengthen the movement against adult content online.