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Prime Minister’s “bizarre” position on porn safeguards criticised

Online Safety
18 November 2021
Boris Johnson

CARE has criticised Boris Johnson’s “bizarre” position on porn safeguards after he backed stricter curbs on extreme pornography in evidence to a committee despite ditching a bill to usher in extreme porn protections just two years ago.

In evidence to the Commons Liaison Committee this week, the Prime Minister confirmed that he supports a move to classify “extreme violent pornography as an online harm” in new online safety proposals.

Responding to the suggestion that “easy access to extreme, violent and degrading pornography” is fuelling sexual violence, the PM said:

“I think that is an incredibly important point, because when you look at the evidence of people like Wayne Couzens—not just him but also, I am afraid, terrorist offenders and many others—it is clear that people are coarsened and degraded by this stuff. We will see what we can do.”

Mr Johnson also signalled that he supports moves to protect children from exposure to pornographic content. Asked if the government’s plans should “include extreme violent pornography as an online harm” to “protect our children” he said: “I do think that, yes.”

However, soon after Mr Johnson became Prime Minister, the government ditched legislation agreed by parliament (Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act). It would have punished sites that host extreme pornography and stopped children accessing porn.

James Mildred, Chief Communications Officer at public policy charity CARE, which lobbied for Part 3, commented:

“The Prime Minister’s statements this week are welcome but, frankly, bizarre. It was in 2019, soon after he became PM, that the government suddenly and without warning ditched Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act, which would have ushered in the curbs on extreme porn and safeguards for children that he claims to support. That decision is now subject to a legal challenge.

“The government has said that its Online Safety Bill is an improvement on Part 3 but this claim does not stand up to scrutiny: there is no requirement to block sites that host extreme pornographic content and it is not clear if porn sites will be subject to age verification safeguards.

"It will also be some time before the online safety regime is in place — if it is agreed at all. We urge the government – as we have done for the past few years – to implement Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act now, rather than wait for its Online Safety Bill to clear all the parliamentary hurdles."

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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