If you didn’t already know, the United Kingdom is instating nationwide age restrictions on the access to internet porn. We’ve already covered a lot of the upcoming UK Porn Ban.

For those still unaware, starting this July, age verification software will act as a censoring method to stop children accessing porn. In our previous articles, we’ve covered some of the main concerns regarding the UK Porn Ban’s ethical veracity as well as its methodology and how it will actually be implemented. In this article, we’ll cover the core justifications that the UK government has in introducing the system.

First, we need to go all the way back to 2014 when one of the first major internet porn regulations was implemented in the United Kingdom.

Brief Background On The UK Porn Ban

In an attempt to bring the UK internet porn industry in line with the restrictions already in place for physical media pornography the UK passed the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014.

Internet porn now had to comply with BBFC regulations and certain acts, like facesitting and squirting, were no longer allowed to be filmed and published online for money in the UK. At the time, protests broke out as the justification for restricting acts like squirting and facesitting were deemed to be sexist or homophobic. This was due to the act’s guidelines being taken from the Obscene Publications Act, published in the obviously sexually liberated year of 1959.

Nationwide Uproar Over Easy Access To Pornography

After the 2014 regulations came into effect, things went quiet on the internet censorship front for a couple of years. This was until a study from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) stoked the flames in parliament once more.

The NSPCC worked with Middlesex University to produce a study on British children’s access to pornography. After surveying over a thousand children, the study found 53% of 11- to 16-year-olds have seen explicit material online. It was also shown that children were more likely to find adult material by accident (28%) than from seeking it out on purpose (19%).

The study started a conversation in the UK over whether the prolific porn content circulating the internet was damaging the children of the nation irrevocably.

Chief executive of the NSPCC, Peter Wanless said, “A generation of children are in danger of being stripped of their childhoods at a young age by stumbling across extreme and violent porn online.” This prompted the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport to respond “Keeping children safe online is one of the government's key priorities. Just as we do offline, we want to make sure children are prevented from accessing pornographic content online, which should only be viewed by adults. In the forthcoming Digital Economy Bill, we will bring in legislation that will require companies providing pornographic material online to make sure they have a robust age-verification system in place so that those accessing their websites are over 18."

The Digital Economy Act 2017 Is Not As Boring As It Sounds

Amidst the furor over the NSPCC study, the Digital Economy Act 2017 was passed. With its innocuous title, the act created new legislation around topics such as data sharing and digital infrastructure. Standing out though was Part 3: Online Pornography.

Within Part 3, the government outlined its plans to regulate the access of under 18s to online pornography. Chief among which was the instigation of the age verification regulator. At time of publication, there was no official plan of how the age verification would be carried out and by whom, only that the age verification regulator would – once selected – be able to enforce the act through fines and enforcement notices. The fine was given an upper bound of whichever was greater by the infringing website; £250,000 or 5% of their turnover.

The Act also outlined that it considered “extreme pornographic material”, as described in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, to include realistic portrayals of life-threatening acts, violent acts, necrophilia, bestiality, and non-consensual sex.

Finally, the act gave regulators the power to have pornographic material blocked at the ISP level. Thankfully it's easy enough to hide your internet traffic from your ISP.

The Porn Ban's Shakey Foundation

Although the Digital Economy Act 2017 was inspired by an NSPCC, determining whether children’s access to pornography was harmful was not the goal of the study at all. The study made very few normative claims.

In fact, the NSPCC’s website states that children seeking out pornography from adolescence is natural and to be expected. The NSPCC simply recommends >more sexual education that includes teaching children about pornography.

The UK Porn Ban's A Backdoor For Privacy Violations

The UK Porn Ban has been tainted with a cynical whiff of a governmental invasion of privacy.

The porn ban will most likely NOT work. It will only slightly hamper inquisitive children at best. While on the other hand, at worst it will almost definitely compromise the privacy of adults wishing to browse adult content.

The UK Porn Ban is opening up huge avenues for the most intimate private information of its citizens to be compromised. If big corporations like Marriott, Twitter, and Facebook can't guarantee their customer's data will be kept safe, the government can't really expect porn sites to do so.

With an internet more readily censored, the UK also risks falling the same way as countries like Russia>, China, and South Korea. Initially starting from a standpoint of saving children from the perils of the internet, all three countries have aggressively increased their restrictions on internet freedoms, allowing them to control political narratives and quell dissemination of dissent.

Worryingly, the UK government refuses to spread public knowledge about the incoming age verification scheme. Initially targeted for release in April 2018, it was delayed to what was supposed to be post-Brexit April 2019. It’s April now and the scheme has again been delayed, this time to July 2019. This is among the general dearth of information the government is withholding, as evidenced by the wholesale ignorance to the issue, 76% of the population has no idea about the incoming restrictions.

Spread The Word!

The government is purposefully not publicizing the UK Porn Ban because it wouldn't state up to scrutiny.

The children may be how the government justified the Digital Economy Act 2017, but who was it really targeted at? This set of restrictions to internet porn has little empirical proof of its child saving capabilities. What it does have major flaws for anyone with privacy and censorship concerns.