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74 UK websites "failed to protect children" from porn, report claims

Thursday, September 11th 2014 by Dean Reilly

Two providers of adult entertainment breached regulator guidelines by failing to prevent children gaining access to hardcore pornography, it has been reported.

The Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD) found that explicit sexual content produced by two on demand services - Extreme Movie Pass and UK Sirens - could easily be viewed by children across 74 different websites.

In both instances, the services allowed any visitor unrestricted access to hardcore pornographic video trailers and still images. Furthermore, ATVOD ruled that each service had also failed to put in place effective access controls in relation to the full videos since accepted payment methods – including debit cards – could be used by under 18’s.

Extreme Movie Pass and UK Sirens could face significant fines as a result of this breach and subsequent referral to regulator Ofcom. In 2013, Playboy TV was fined £100,000 for similar failures while on-demand service Jessica Pressley had the right to provide content suspended following a comparable breach.

ATVOD Chair Ruth Evans said: “ATVOD will continue to discuss with policy makers further options for reducing the exposure of children to pornography and other potentially harmful VOD material on websites based both inside and outside the UK.

“We strongly support initiatives designed to improve the take up of parental control software and have worked with the Department for Culture Media and Sport on the drafting of legislation which will prohibit on UK based, TV-like VOD services any material which would not be classified for sale on a DVD.”

ATVOD Chief Executive Pete Johnson added: “Almost 90% of British adults think it is important that UK providers are required to take the steps set out in the ATVOD Rules and Guidance to ensure that under 18’s can’t see hardcore porn material. We have made good progress in ensuring that UK operators of regulated VOD services comply with those rules, but we are not complacent and will continue to monitor relevant services and act as required.

“Our recent enforcement activity has sent a clear message that UK providers of hardcore pornography on demand must take effective steps to ensure that such material is not accessible to under-18’s. Asking visitors to a website to click an ‘I am 18’ button or enter a date of birth or use a debit card is not sufficient – if they are going to offer explicit sex material they must know that their customers are 18, just as they would in the ‘offline’ world.”

ATVOD regulates programmes from over 110 video on demand services accessed online, through set top boxes, mobile phones or smart televisions. The monitoring group was designated by Ofcom as the regulatory authority for video on demand services in March 2010.

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