Online porn: protecting children. After the UK, France and Spain are also moving

Free access to violent content offered by the porn-lobby is one of the most serious problems for the very young generation, who are deeply disturbed in the development of their sexuality. And it is accompanied by psychological disorders and a staggering increase in sexual abuse. But the sites oppose any attempt to impose age verification. It is time to talk about it also in Italy
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Porno online: proteggere i bambini. Dopo l’UK si muovono anche Francia e Spagna

We have already narrated of British government measures to protect girls and children from online pornography, involving fines of millions of pounds and blocking in the UK for sites that do not comply with the new rules.

Now France is also preparing a crackdown on online porn giants: Arcom, the French audiovisual and digital police, asked the Paris Court of Justice to blocking the connection to several pornographic sites due to the lack of an age verification device.

Lawyers for five of the most visited porn sites (Pornhub, Tukif, XHamster, Xvideos and Xnxx) strongly opposed to the request of Arcom, which is trying to enforce its legal obligation to prevent minors from accessing pornographic content. On 13 April, at the end of a hearing lasting almost four hours, the Paris Court of Justice postponed its decision until 7 July.

These sites refuse to establish age verification sclaiming that to date there is still no 'technical solution that is effective and respectful of personal data'. Despite the rejection of these grounds by the Court of Cassation in January, continue to call for the publication of 'guidelines' and accuse Arcom of failing to notify the European authorities of its intention to take blocking measures, as required by an EU directive.

According to Thomas Rohmer, founder of Open, an association dedicated to digital education and parenting, the call for explicit guidelines would be 'a trap in which the sites want to trap us'. to circumvent French law. Rohmer argues that sites could prevent minors from accessing pornographic content by simply switching to a paid-for commercial model.

The Criminal Code prohibits exposing minors to pornographic photos and videos, and the Domestic Violence Act of 30 July 2020 specifies that the companies concerned cannot shirk their responsibilities simply by asking an Internet user if he or she is of age.

Arcom's lawyer reiterated that their request is not an act of censorship, but a attempt to 'put an end to a serious disturbance of public order': according to an analysis by Médiamétrie, more than 2.2 million minors visited pornographic sites in France in the first quarter of 2022.

Also three feminist associations -Osez le féminisme, Les Effrontées and the Mouvement du Nid- filed a complaint against the Pornhub platform in November for 'dissemination of child pornographic images and violent messages of a pornographic nature, accessible to minors'. Present at the hearing, they withdrew their request to intervene in order not to slow down the proceedings. (Full article here).

It was only a few days ago that a court in Amsterdam ordered xHamster, a popular online pornography site, to remove all amateur films showing recognisable people in the Netherlands who have not agreed to appear on the site.

Many of the so-called 'amateur videos' are footage of actual rape and sexual abuse, and those in which minors appear are not uncommon.

The ruling was issued following the complaints lodged by theExpertise Bureau for Online Child Abuse (EOKM), which identified 10 videos for which xHamster could not prove that it had obtained permission for publication from those appearing in them, committing, according to the court, a violation of European privacy laws. (You can read the news here).

Also in Spain the need to curb access to online pornography by increasingly young girls and boys is being discussed. Especially after thealarm raised by the Public Prosecutor's Office on the staggering increase in sexual abuse committed by minors.

The latest report of the Public Prosecutor's Office found that In 2021, sexual abuse and sexual assaults committed by children under the age of 18 increased by 58% compared to 2020, reaching 2,625 cases, an alarming figure 'that far exceeds that of previous years'.

The public prosecutor's office explicitly denounces that highly sexualised behaviour at a very early age is associated with access to pornography at the 'not-yet-teenage' stage (we are therefore talking about children under the age of 12, who have not reached puberty). Among the direct consequences of access to online porn is also a increase in sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancies in very young girls, as well as 'a certain tendency of some minors to normalise online sexual contacts with adults in exchange for financial compensation'. (See here).

The situation has been further complicated by the 'Only Yes is Yes' law wanted by the trans-feminist minister Irene Montero, which introduces significant sentence reductions for sex offenders. Passed in August 2022, according to the General Council of the Judiciary the law has already led to at least 943 sentence reductionsand in 103 cases even to the release of the convicted person.

But what the Spanish government is doing to curb the scourge of sex crimes committed by minors on minors? For the time being focuses on sex education. The strategy would be 'to promote sex education at all stages of education' - as envisaged by the 'Only Yes is Yes' law and the reform of the abortion law - in order to 'provide a response that is not only based on the Penal Code', underline sources in the Ministry of Equality.

But jurists and now also the public prosecutor's office are pushing for the introduction of child protection mechanisms.

"The current regulatory framework was designed in the 1980s and 1990s for pornography sold in newsstand magazines and broadcast on encrypted TV channels. If a minor wanted to access this content, he had to buy it from a friend or get the passwords from his father. It was not impossible, but it was complicated. Whereas today, accessibility to the Internet is absolute' and 'the current restrictions are nominal, almost decorative', explains Juan Martínez Otero, professor of law at the University of Valencia. (Here the full article).

And in Italy? The data on the consumption of online pornography by minors and its effects are also alarming in our country.

"One third of eight to seventeen year olds online pretend to be older in order to use social media, gaming apps and content sharing sites, including pornographic content and two thirds of them are helped to lie by their parents,' said Guido Scorza, member of the Garante per la protezione dei dati personali, in a intervention October 2022.

Yet politicians and school authorities ignore the problem of free access to online pornography and the devastating effects it has on girls and boys, to focus instead on 'performative' interventions such as the career alias, which consists of indulging in the fiction of a 'gender identity' chosen by the adolescent, initiating a real 'social transition' that in many cases paves the way for the medical transition.

The close link between online pornography consumption and the epidemic of psychological disorders and 'gender dysphoria' among adolescents has already been highlighted, according to a script that repeats itself in every country (we talked about it here). It is time to tackle the root of the problem.

Translation, adaptation and texts by Maria Celeste


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