Jim from Open Rights Group sez, "MPs have worked out that attempts to verify adult's ages won't stop children from accessing other pornographic websites: so their proposed answer is to start censoring these websites."
That's right: in order to make age verification technologies "work", some MPs want to block completely legal content from access by every UK citizen. It would have a massive impact on the free expression of adults across the UK. The impact for sexual minorities would be particularly severe.
This only serves to illustrate the problems with the AV proposal. Age verification was always likely to be accompanied by calls to block "non-compliant" overseas websites, and also to be extended to more and more categories of "unsuitable" material.
We have to draw a line. Child protection is very important, but let's try to place this policy in some context:
70% of UK households have no children
Take up of ISP filters is around 10-30% depending on ISP, so roughly in line with expectations and already restricting content in the majority of households with children (other measures may be restricting access in other cases).
Most adults access pornography, including a large proportion of women.
Less that 3% of children aged 9-12 are believed to have accessed inappropriate material
Pornography can and will be circulated by young people by email, portable media and private messaging systems
The most effective protective measures are likely to be to help young people understand and regulate their own behaviour through education, which the government refuses to make compulsory