Lax controls allowing children to view hardcore internet porn has seen Playboy fined £100,000. Playboy's behaviour was described as "reckless". Two of its websites, Playboy TV and Demand Adult, came in for particular criticism from regulator Ofcom.

The fines bring raises the issue of control about the Internet adult industry - and children.


Few barriers

The UK Adult Industry Trade Association has come out fighting, claiming regulation against UK porn sites achieves little, "other than unfairly bias and harm UK individuals and businesses who have always conformed to rules and regulation."

But clearly they haven't. A kid with a debit card, due to few controls from internet site Demand Adult, was able to access its hardcore porn. Had Demand Adult insisted on credit card details being handed over, access would have been made much more difficult. Only 18-year-olds are legally able to have a credit card.

"The homepage of Demand Adult," says Ofcom, "displayed hardcore pornographic material that could be viewed by clicking on a button labelled 'Enter I am over 18'. In order to access additional paid for content, users could pay using a debit card. Neither of these controls constitutes an effective age verification system."

Not UK-based

A big part of the problem is that many porn sites, like Babestation or Smile TV, aren't UK-based. These Dutch operators are allowed to get around age verification controls, gaining commercial advantage. Some sites can even be accessed through Freeview.

That has obvious concerns for families - especially when children are often technically savvier then their parents at operating technology. So what options do parents have? For search engines consider Google Safe Search for starters, or Kid Rex.

Ofcom has now farmed the job of regulating so-called video on demand to its partner Authority for Video On Demand (ATVOD).

Last year ATVOD commissioned an ICM poll to gauge reaction from UK adults on porn website access. 77% of British adults, it claimed, thought access to hardcore porn videos was too easy with 94% of women saying control was "very" or "quite" important.



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