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Some UK adult sites ‘not doing enough to guard children’ – Ofcom

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Smaller adult video-sharing sites based within the UK aren’t doing enough to guard children from accessing pornography, Ofcom has said.

In a latest report, the regulator said a lot of smaller platforms shouldn’t have robust measures in place to confirm a user’s age and forestall them from gaining access if obligatory.

Ofcom said that while all of them have age verification systems in place when users enroll to post content, it is feasible for youngsters to access adult content just by self-declaring that they’re over 18.

However the regulator did praise some larger platforms – including TikTok and Snapchat, for making some progress in higher protecting younger users.

Ofcom already regulates video-sharing platforms (VSPs) through existing rules and said it used these powers to collect information from platforms in scope on how they protect users from online harm.

The Government’s proposed Online Safety Bill – which is anticipated to return to Parliament before the top of the yr – is about to offer Ofcom expanded powers because the regulator of user-generated content platforms, and it has warned that adult sites who don’t improve their age assurance process to guard children will face stronger enforcement motion.

In its research, Ofcom said one smaller adult platform told the regulator that it had considered introducing age verification but ultimately decided to not because it would cut back the profitability of the business.

It’s deeply concerning to see yet more examples of platforms putting profits before child safety

Dame Melanie Dawes, Ofcom CEO

Ofcom chief executive Dame Melanie Dawes said it was “deeply concerning” to see sites putting profit before child safety and highlighted how much work still needed to be done.

However the report did welcome some progress it said it had seen from some larger sites.

It highlighted TikTok’s system of categorising some content as unsuitable for younger users to stop them from seeing it, in addition to its oversight committee which looks at safety compliance within the UK and EU.

Ofcom also noted Snapchat’s creation of the Family Centre parental control feature, and a filtering tool on video platform Vimeo as further sign’s of progress from sites, but said it still needed to see more.

“Today’s report is a world first. We’ve used our powers to lift the lid on what UK video sites are doing to take care of the individuals who use them,” Dame Melanie said.

“It shows that regulation could make a difference as some corporations have responded by introducing latest safety measures, including age verification and parental controls.

“But we’ve also exposed the gaps across the industry and we now know just how much they should do.

“It’s deeply concerning to see yet more examples of platforms putting profits before child safety.

“We now have put UK adult sites on notice to set out what they may do to stop children accessing them.”

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