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BREAKING: Legal challenge alleging govt failed kids by refusing to enforce porn safeguards goes ahead

Online Safety
10 November 2021
Age verification phone

A legal challenge of the UK Government’s decision not to enforce pornography safeguards has been welcomed by campaigners.

This afternoon, the High Court granted permission for a judicial review of the government’s controversial decision to drop Part 3 of the Digital Economy 2017.

Part 3 would have required all commercial porn sites to verify the age of users, preventing children from accessing vile content. And it would have ushered in penalties for sites that host ‘extreme’ porn.

The legislation was ditched by UK Ministers two years after it was agreed by parliament, to the dismay of women’s groups, children’s charities and others who successfully campaigned for it.

James Mildred, Chief Communications Officer of the charity CARE, which supported and campaigned for Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act, commented:

“This legal intervention is vitally important and will be watched closely by groups like CARE who worked tirelessly to see children better protected from pornography through Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act. Many fear that children have been badly let down by the Government’s decision to abandon it.

“Part 3 would have stopped vulnerable children and young people stumbling onto commercial porn sites and it would have appointed a regulator with powers to punish sites that host vile content, glorifying sexual violence. It was widely supported and still is to this day, with a majority of UK adults backing these safeguards.

“For the sake of millions of children in the UK who have lacked protections for the last four years as a result of poor policy decisions, we hope this judicial review succeeds. Ministers can, of course, avoid the taxpayer burden incurred by defending its decision by doing the right thing and agreeing to implement Part 3 now.”

The UK Government is seeking to include elements of Part 3 in its Online Safety Bill, which is largely designed for social media, a move criticised by experts.

Yesterday, Iain Corby, Executive Director of the Age Verification Providers Association, noted that the new proposals are a “square peg for a round hole” and questioned why Ministers cannot implement Part 3 which is “already sitting on the statute books”.

Watch Mr Corby's evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Sub-committee on Online Harms and Disinformation here: [EVIDENCE]

ENDS

Notes for Editors:

CARE is a well-established mainstream Christian charity providing resources and helping to bring Christian insight and experience to matters of public policy and practical caring initiatives.

For interview requests or more information please contact Jamie Gillies: jamie.gillies@care.org.uk // 07384467819

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