EXCLUSIVE: Dad’s delight at securing judicial review on porn age verification

A father of four who is challenging the Government over the lack of age verification on pornography sites has spoken exclusively to The Christian Institute about the importance of the case and his motivation for bringing it.

Last week, the High Court granted Ioannis Dekas, 52, and student Ava Vakil permission for a judicial review after the Government announced it would not be implementing a 2017 law to require pornographers to introduce strict online age verification checks.

The checks were approved under the Digital Economy Act 2017, but plans to implement them were abandoned in October 2019 when the Government claimed they would be covered by its Online Harms Bill. The Court agreed that the new law could prove to be weaker than the one it claims to replace. Dekas and Vakil are seeking crowdfunding to pay for the case.

‘Massive deterrent’

Mr Dekas told the Institute’s Ciarán Kelly how he discovered his son had been viewing online porn during lockdown after noticing a dramatic change in his behaviour.

He said: “Had age verification been in place there would have been a massive deterrent”.

Mr Dekas explained that “we do age verification in a number of different areas” to protect our children from harm, “we do it in alcohol, we do it in smoking, we do it in movies, in gambling, you can’t enter a competition on the radio if you’re not 18 years old, but in the area of pornography we don’t”.

Having heard “story, after story, after story” of children accidentally exposed to porn, and aware of the “incredible danger” such exposure brings, he said: “something needs to be done in order to protect our children better in this area”.

‘Shameful’

Solicitor Paul Conrathe, who is representing Dekas and Vakil, told the Institute: “When the harms of pornography to children are now well-known it is shameful and disingenuous for the Government to fail to provide age verification protection.

“A High Court judge has now ruled that the Government’s failure is arguably an abuse of power and violation of the human rights of parents and children. The case will now proceed to trial.”

Earlier this year a survey revealed that four in five UK 16-17-year-olds have seen online pornography – commonly saying that they had viewed it that day.

Conducted by City University of London with 1,001 participants, it found that 63 per cent had seen porn on social media platforms, with 47 per cent viewing it on adult websites. Lead author of the study Professor Neil Thurman said that the figures confirmed that there was still a need to regulate pornographic websites.

Also see:

Public overwhelmingly support age verification for online porn

Chief Constable: no age-verification for porn ‘completely bizarre’

New tech could help safeguard kids from explicit content

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