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Protecting children from internet pornography? A critical assessment of statutory age verification and its enforcement in the UK

Majid Yar (Lancaster University Law School, Lancaster University , Lancaster, UK )

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 18 November 2019

Issue publication date: 6 April 2020

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to critically assess the newly created regulatory and policing regime for age-restricting access to pornography in the UK.

Design/methodology/approach

It examines the pivotal legislation, policy and strategy documents, consultation submissions and interventions from a range of stakeholders such as children’s charities, content providers and privacy advocates.

Findings

Even before its implementation, the regulatory regime betrays serious flaws and shortcomings in its framing and configuration. These difficulties include its inability to significantly curtail minors’ access to online pornography and risks of privacy violations and associated harms to legitimate users’ interests.

Research limitations/implications

Remedial measures are available so as to address some of the problems identified. However, it is argued that ultimately the attempt to prohibit minors from accessing such content is set to fail, and that alternative approaches – such as better equipping children through education to cope with explicit materials online – need to be given greater prominence.

Originality/value

This paper provides the first criminological policy analysis of this latest attempt to regulate and police online behaviour, and offers an important critical response to such efforts.

Keywords

Citation

Yar, M. (2020), "Protecting children from internet pornography? A critical assessment of statutory age verification and its enforcement in the UK", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 43 No. 1, pp. 183-197. https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-07-2019-0108

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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