UK Government Pledges Online Porn Age Limit

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UK Government Pledges Online Porn Age Limit

British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that he and his Conservative Party will enforce age-restriction rules on porn websites if they win this month’s General Election.

The Prime Minister made his pledge as the country prepares to go to the ballot box on Thursday, May 7th. The plans include strict measures implemented on websites to ensure that any children under the age of 18 do not access sexually explicit images and videos. Public debate has been ignited in Britain after a recent poll by children’s charity Childline found that 9% of people aged 12-13 were worried that they had become addicted to online porn.

The solution, according to Culture Secretary Sajid Javid, is to put a blanket ban on both UK-based and overseas websites with adults being forced to confirm their age and identity with credit cards. Mr Javid told the BBC that the government do not want to prevent adults from accessing legal content “but we do want to protect our children from harmful material, so they are free to develop a healthy attitude to sex and relationships.”

The proposal has been welcomed by children’s charities and other similar interest groups but slammed by pro-porn and anti-censorship groups, some of who liken the idea to something the Chinese authorities would enforce.

The government-appointed Mothers’ Union chief executive, Reg Bailey, told The Guardian it was “a really welcome development”.

He said: ““Whilst I do not underestimate the energy that will be needed to implement this effectively, I am greatly encouraged by the prime minister’s continuing personal commitment to this task.”

Jerry Barnett of Sex & Censorship – who had some strong words for A&E over their 8 Minutes TV show – deployed a solemn and doom-laden announcement: “Finally, the end-game of the Porn Panic has arrived: now the task of building a broad movement for free speech begins. This was never about pornography”.

Although it does sound like we’re spinning nose first into a swamp, we must take one small step back and assess the situation. First of all, let’s not forget the concept of political grandstanding. A month away from a national election and politicians send out a message to a large group of swing voters (mothers/parents) that they are ‘on their side’. These are tactics that P.T. Barnum would have no shame in using.

Then there’s the small matter of a government whose primary aim is to wring as much they can from the poor via ‘austerity‘ committing themselves to a project that will require much in the way of funding and research. Add to that pile the inevitable lawsuits from ISPs who would be forced to comply, porn companies fighting the fact will be subject to an unjust restriction of trade and the myriad complications stemming from finding a system that actually works and you’ve got an idea that will struggle to make much impact past the headlines.

For now, the issue may be nothing more than electoral fodder but any potential incoming Republican POTUS in 2016 may look to similar sabre rattling in order to rouse support from his party’s core group of voters and Senators. They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Where does the path covered with misguided ones lead to?

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