Calum Kerr, the SNP’s Digital Spokesperson at Westminster, has called on the UK Government to follow the recommendations of leading children’s charities and introduce blocking measures for sites that fail to comply with new laws on age-verification for online pornography.
“We all want to protect young children from accessing inappropriate pornographic material but the government needs to match this with tough sanctions for sites that don’t comply,” said Mr Kerr.
Speaking during a sitting of the Digital Economy Bill committee, Mr Kerr expressed disappointment at the reluctance of the government to introduce ISP blocking: a measure that is already used to combat other forms of illegality online.
“I am dismayed at the Government’s unwillingness to move and not even so much as listen to Opposition Members, the regulator or charities, who all insist that ISP blocking is the kind of extra measure that we should put in place.”
The SNP’s stance on the issue echoes that of children’s charities such as NSPCC.
Last week Matt Forde, national head of service for NSPCC Scotland said: “A generation of young people are being exposed to extreme or violent sexual acts online. This is robbing children of their innocence and is not the right way for them to learn about sex. Worryingly, some children think that porn is realistic and want to act out what they’ve seen online.
“Children should be protected from adult-only material online just as they are in the off-line world. It is crucial that porn websites that fail to comply with age verification checks can be blocked, so they cannot be accessed by children in the UK.”
Mr Kerr also called for the government to put in place a review mechanism to guarantee that age-verification measures are effectively enforced.
“A lot of the problems that we have here are to do with international sites. In light of our concerns and those of many others, a review should be put in place to ensure that we get the outcome that we all want: a safer environment for our children on the internet.”