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International porn sites face UK debit card payment block

On-demand pornoraphy sites not based in the UK could be blocked unless they ask for credit card payments if new proposals are passed into law. 

The Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD), which co-regulates on-demand TV content in the UK alongside Ofcom, is suggesting credit cards are the only practical way to check users are over 18. 

ATVOD suggests that overseas porn, traditionally stronger and more explicit than the British variety, could contravene the Obscene Publications Act and therefore should not be available to UK customers. 

Pornography: It’s covered up and restricted in the high street so why not online?

Read Recombu Digital’s guide to Parental Internet ControlsRuth Evans, chair of ATVOD, said: “Given the importance the public clearly attaches to protecting children from exposure to hardcore porn material, it is surely time to think about more imaginative ways of ensuring that the safeguards ATVOD institutes around UK services are replicated for hardcore porn websites accessible in the UK, but operated overseas.” 

ATVOD’s Annual Report suggests that paid access to porn sites should also be limited to credit cards only. As you need to be 18 to have a credit card, it’s a simple way to verify the age of subscribers. 

Pete Johnson, chief executive for ATVOD added: “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.”

Last year, Playboy TV was fined £100,000 by Ofcom after ATVOD ruled that slapping an ‘Enter Only if You’re 18 or Above’ button isn’t the most effective way of stopping kids from seeing something they shouldn’t.

Before that, the UK’s biggest porn video on-demand site, Strictly Broadband, was fined for not even having that most basic of safeguards on its site.

The proposal could have severe consequences for free sites like PornHub and RedTube. Both sites feature warnings stating that you may only watch if you’re over 18 or 21 respectively, but neither have any way to verify users’ ages. 

ATVOD is a member of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS), a 200-strong group of government and industry groups that advise on child safety policy.

Image credit: futureshape/Flickr

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