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Highlands and Islands Labour MSP leads calls for safeguards to be enforced on online adult sites to ensure protection of children


By Val Sweeney

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Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant.
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant is calling on the UK government to implement measures to prevent children accessing pornography websites.

Age verification for legal pornography sites was introduced in part three of the Digital Economy Act 2017 with the aim of protecting children from accessing harmful online materials.

But UK Ministers revealed last month they plan to scrap the measures.

Mrs Grant has now lodged a motion, supported by several SNP politicians, in the Scottish Parliament voicing concern over the UK Government’s failure to implement part three of the Act.

"How we keep our children safe online should be an absolute priority, so the failure to implement part three of the Digital Economy Act 2017 is a terrible reflection on the UK Government," she said.

"Access to some of the most violent forms of illegal pornography normalises violence against women and girls at a young age, and will perpetuate the scandal of women in our society suffering abuse, violence and sexual attacks.

"The long list of those calling for the implementation should be a wake up call that this legislation needs to be enacted and enforced immediately, and I wholeheartedly support this call to action."

The motion was welcomed by public policy charity CARE which worked closely with politicians at Westminster on the provisions in the Digital Economy Act.

Michael Veitch, Parliamentary Officer for the charity CARE, commented: "We are highly concerned about the potential impact, here in Scotland, of the UK Government’s failure to implement part three of the Digital Economy Act.

"For each day these safeguards fail to be implemented, children in Scotland continue to stumble across commercial porn sites which are full of graphic and disturbing content.

"Implementing part three would also see the establishment of a regulator to take strong action against sites showing extreme and violent porn.

"With growing concerns about ‘rape culture’ and tragic cases of sexual violence, such as that of Sarah Everard, this type of regulation couldn’t be more important.

"We are delighted that a number of MSPs, from different parties, have backed this motion and we urge the UK Government to change course."

MSPs supporting the motion include Clare Adamson, Sarah Boyack, Siobhian Brown, Kenneth Gibson, Bill Kidd, Fulton MacGregor, John Mason, Paul McLennan, Stuart McMillan, Alex Rowley, Collette Stevenson and Paul Sweeney.

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