Porn websites to be forced to check users are over 18 after children made up 1 in 20 visitors to adult sites
- Ministers drawing up new laws to force firms to carry out age verification
- Survey by online regulator found thousands of youngsters accessed porn
- Mobile phone firms will also have to block access to adult sites by children
Porn websites will be forced to check users are over 18 under a new crackdown to stop children accessing explicit material.
Mobile phone companies and credit card firms will have to ensure that someone proves they are aged 18 or over before being given access to adult websites.
It comes after a shocking study found one in 20 visitors to adult sites are under 18.
Ministers are drawing up plans to force pornographic websites to carry out age checks on users
Online video regulator, the Authority for Television on Demand, has previously called for the law to be changed to protect children from seeing adult material on the internet.
Now it has emerged that plans are being drawn up to force adult websites to carry out checks on the age of users.
It would cover pornography sites, as well as those selling guns and other age-restricted material, the Sunday Times reported.
Age checks are already carried out for anyone trying to use gambling websites.
Credit card and debit card information can be used to prove that someone is over 18.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is working on the plans with Treasury minister Andrea Leadsom, who oversees regulation of the banking system.
A DCMS spokesman said: ‘We take the issue of child safety online very seriously and have set out a series of robust measures, including family friendly filters, to help keep children safe online.
‘We are always looking at ways to build on these measures to make children even safer.’
However, the new rules would only cover UK-based websites to begin with.
Mobile phone companies and credit card firms will have to ensure that someone proves they are aged 18 or over before being given access to adult websites
Critics have noted that only one of the 1,266 adult websites visited from the UK in December 2013 was a service that is regulated in this country.
The research for Atvod found that 6 per cent of children aged 15 or under had accessed an adult website over the course of a month.
Some 5 per cent of visitors to adult sites were under 18, and one website alone, Pornhub, was visited by 112,000 boys in the UK aged between 12 and 17.
The statistics were uncovered after the online habits of 45,000 desktop computers and laptop users were monitored over a month, with volunteers reflecting a cross-section of the population.
The issue of children accessing online pornography was so urgent that it was ‘critical the legislation is enacted during this Parliament’, Atvod said at the time.
It called for sites that did not comply with legislation to carry out age checks should be forbidden from processing payments from British customers.
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