Jersey to adopt UK porn law?

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As of 15 July, people in the UK who try to access porn on the internet will be required to verify their age online using passports or driving licences or even buy ‘porn passes’ from local newsagents for £5. Users only have to verify their age once.

Websites that offer commercial pornography – meaning they charge for it or make money through adverts – face being shut down if they do not block under-18s from viewing their content.

The new UK Online Pornography (Commercial Basis) Regulations 2018 law does not affect the Channel Islands but the States have not ruled out introducing their own regulations.

Today, the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport said it was ‘working closely with the Crown Dependencies to make the necessary arrangements for the extension of this legislation to the Channel Islands’.

A spokeswoman for the States said they were monitoring the situation in the UK ‘to inform our own policy development in this area’.

Now a Jersey branch of a charity which provides relationship support to adults has warned of the dangers that watching pornography can pose to young people – especially in terms of future relationships.

Relate, which offers relationship support throughout the UK, said there ‘needs to be a reduction in the numbers of very young people accessing porn’. However, the charity stopped short of saying whether they thought a porn ban would be successful.

A spokeswoman said: ‘There needs to be a reduction in the numbers of very young people accessing porn but whether the porn block in the UK will be successful in combatting this, nobody knows yet. If someone wants to watch porn, they will usually find a way to access it. Educating young people in Jersey to understand the difficulties that may arise, as they get older and try to form relationships, from watching porn from a young age is very important.’

Critics in the UK say young people may find it relatively easy to bypass the restriction or could simply turn to porn-hosting platforms not covered by the law. Websites such as Twitter, Reddit and image-sharing community Imgur, include some pornographic content but will not be required to force users to prove their age because the law only applies to sites and apps where a third or more of the content is pornographic.

Similarly, platforms that host pornography but do not make money out of it – meaning they does not charge a fee or create revenue from adverts – will not be affected.

Virtual private networks or VPNs, which can make it seem like a UK-based computer is located elsewhere, will also be able to evade the age checks, critics say.

The spokeswoman from Relate added: ‘If you watch too much porn it can become harmful, just like anything you start doing in excess. There is evidence to suggest young people exposed to porn at an early age may have a distorted view of sex and may find sex with a partner difficult. This may be because they get exposed to certain things in porn and develop expectations that this is how things work in real life. The kind of sex they see in porn is likely to be more extreme than the kind of sex you would have in a real-life relationship.

‘When you watch porn it doesn’t teach you how to have a relationship. You aren’t learning how to talk to somebody and how to respond; you learn this from interacting with people in real life.

Pornographic providers are, under the legislation, responsible for how they verify the age of users. Internet giant Mindgeek have developed a system called AgeID. It involves adults having to upload scans of their passports or driving licences, which are then verified by a third party. In the UK newsagents will also sell ‘porn passes’ containing a unique code, which users can key in when an age-verification screen appears.

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