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UK News

High Court approves legal challenge over UK Govt's scrapping of porn age verification plans

by Premier Journalist

The High Court has approved a legal challenge over the Government's decision to scrap plans for a new age verification system that would make it harder for children to access pornographic material.

The new regulations, which formed part of the Digital Economy Act, were approved by MPs in December 2018. However, after a series of implementation failures and delays, it was announced in July 2019 that the scheme would be dropped. In its place, the Government announced the proposal of a new 'Online Harms Bill' which was due to be introduced into the legislative process in early 2020. That never happened, however, and the Government has yet to publish its response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation which closed 1st July 2019. 

In light of these facts, the High Court has permitted a legal challenge — lodged by four different age verification companies — which forces the Government to explain why it failed to implement a crucial piece of legislation that Parliament had already passed. 

Christian Action Research and Education (CARE) communications manager, James Mildred, told Premier what he expects to happen now: "The next thing that will happen is a date will be set in the future and the Government will have to go to court and they'll have to defend themselves on the point that it was inappropriate for a minister to overturn something that Parliament had previously voted for." 

CARE’s chief executive, Nola Leach said they were delighted at the High Court's decision: “Given the substantial evidence suggesting consumption of pornography has harmful consequences for children and the shaping of their understanding of, and attitudes towards, sex and relationships, the position of the Government is now completely indefensible.

“There is one thing worse than not bothering to take action to develop legislation to protect children from accessing pornographic websites - it is having gone to great lengths to develop such legislation, which helps keep children safer now, but to then decide not to use it, in favour of some other solution that has not even been published yet in Bill form, let alone passed by both Houses of Parliament.

“Had the Government implemented Part Three as they should have done in October last year, children would have enjoyed access to important protections during the lockdown period, when we know the pornographers worked so hard to increase visits to their sites.

“They were denied this by the failure of the Government which should now urgently re-designate the BBFC as regulator and implement Part Three as quickly as possible.”

 

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