• age verification filters to protect children under 18

    Parents worry greatly about their children accessing inappropriate images and I support the concept of age verification filters to protect children under 18 from online pornography and I am in favour of blocking powers for commercial pornography providers that flout the law.

     In order to be effective, I believe the measures to stop children from accessing pornographic sites must be accompanied by comprehensive education to help children navigate the online world in a safe way.

     It is also essential to protect the anonymity and privacy of those who are over 18 and want to access legal pornographic sites without having their personal details compromised. The draft guidance is clear that age verification should be concerned only with the need to establish the user is aged 18 or above, rather than seeking to identify the user.

     I am aware concerns have also been raised that the Digital Economy Bill could extend internet censorship for adults to certain content. The Government has insisted that this is not the intention and has amended the Bill so that it takes an approach based on the definition of an “extreme pornographic image” as defined in other legislation.

     I believe there should be much wider public engagement around these issues and I would like to see the Government consult further. I also believe there should be wider consultation on the functions of the regulator and that the new powers must be carried out proportionately, with a proper appeals process.