Ofcom to fine tech firms exposing young people to graphic videos
The government is considering giving Ofcom the power to fine tech firms it deems not to have properly protected youngsters from harmful videos including pornography and violence.
The regulator will judge if sites which allow videos and live-streaming have introduced robust age verification checks and parental controls which “impairs their physical, mental or moral development,” reported The Telegraph.
The potentially multi-million pound fines – up to 5 per cent of revenue - are being considered in order to meet the UK’s obligations to the EU.
It will also be given the power to restrict or suspend websites which fail yo comply with enforcement measures.
The powers are come in to force next year, after Brexit is scheduled, which will leave the UK without the obligation, and it is reported that parliament has already quietly approve the new powers.
A spokesman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport told the BBC that the implementation of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) would be required “until the UK formally leaves the European Union.”
"If the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, we will not be bound to transpose the AVMSD into UK law,” they said.
Alastair Graham, chair of the Age Verification Providers Association and CEO of AgeChecked said it was an extremely positive move by Ofcom.
"Young people have more access to online content than ever before; in fact, our recent research found that 59% of children have already started using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter before the age of 10 – despite the minimum age requirement being 13.
"Whilst the ever-growing market of technologies can be of great benefit to children, they also pose unprecedented risks. It’s therefore encouraging to see appropriate measures – such as robust, integrated age verification systems – being enforced to ensure young people are better protected from potentially harmful material.”
The announcement comes as well-known online gaming streamer ‘Ninja’ - having moved from streaming platform Twitch to rival firm Mixer - discovered porn had appeared on his now defunct profile page.
Emmett Shear, the CEO of Twitch, has apologised to Tyler 'Ninja' Blevins for the appearance of the video, which he said “grossly violates our terms of service”.
The video appeared after Blevins’ offline page was replaced with an automatically populated list of popular videos.