The majority of Brits would support tighter restrictions on online pornography, a new survey has found.
In the survey considering sexual abuse and harassment targeted at women, 63 per cent said they support greater curbs. Women were particularly concerned, with 80 per cent backing more restrictions.
Almost half of the 1,657 adults surveyed by YouGov for Sky News felt the availability of pornography online contributes to violence against women, with 64 per cent of women agreeing.
Writing in The Guardian, Fiona Vera-Gray, an assistant professor in sociology, said: “Recent research conducted by myself and others at Durham University found that one in every eight titles on the front pages of the UK’s most popular porn websites described sexual violence against women and girls.
“This isn’t sexually violent porn hidden in some dark recess of the internet, only accessed by a few bad men. This is mainstream pornography on mainstream sites with the mainstream message that sexual violence is sexy. And there are companies behind it making millions.”
She added that this is despite acts of rape and sexual violence being prohibited by these websites’ own terms and conditions, indicating that “these companies have no real intention of regulating their own platforms”.
Lack of safeguards
The Government has been under fire in recent years for failing to bring in safeguards that would restrict children from stumbling across explicit content online.
Regulations to require pornographers to introduce strict age-verification checks online were approved under the Digital Economy Act 2017, but the plans were first delayed, and then dropped in October 2019.
In response, a High Court challenge was launched by four different age-verification companies arguing it is unlawful for the Government to withdraw the plans after Parliament voted to implement them.
Earlier this year, the Government launched its Online Safety Bill, which it said would contain measures to restrict underage access to pornography. However, while pornographers would face some curbs under the plans, campaigners have pointed out that protections in the Bill will only apply to porn websites which include user-generated content.