ln July 2013 then-UK Prime Minister David Cameron said, "Today I am going to territory that can be hard for our society to confront. It is frankly difficult for talk about, but I believe we need to address as a matter of urgency. I want to talk about the internet, the impact it's having on the innocence of our children, and how online pornography is corroding childhood,".
One researcher called the easy access of children to extreme internet pornography, “the single largest unregulated social experiment in history”. We are paying a severe price as a society for that experiment.
What can we do? In 2017 the UK Parliament passed a law requiring an approved system of age verification ensuring that those under age l8 are not able to gain access. Other countries are considering a similar approach, including Canada. The Canadian Parliament currently has an age verification bill before it, introduced by Senator Julie Miville-Dechene of Quebec.
When implemented, the UK system will utilize the latest technology and be based on trusted third-party validation, protecting the privacy of users. If sites fail to comply, they will be fined, or denied access to ancillary service providers (credit cards, etc.), or ultimately the regulator may direct ISPs to block access to the site.
Age verification will not deny access by any adult to any legal content. It is not about content, it is about child protection. It is time that we address this reality, a problem that is truly corroding childhood.
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