Church of England Scrutinizes Investment in ISPs Due to Porn

John Sanford

LONDON — The Church of England is threatening to use its financial power to curb the growth of Internet porn, according to a report in the U.K.'s Daily Mail.

The Church is considering withdrawing the millions it has invested in Internet Service Providers (ISPs) unless they take action, the report said.

It is concerned over the easy availability of images it views as degrading to women. That worry has increased following the disclosure that a British citizen's convicted killer was obsessed with websites showing sexual violence, bondage and strangulation, the Daily Mail reported.

Police are under pressure to treat the worst porn in the same way as child abuse images which are investigated. And ISPs such as Virgin Media, BT Broadband, AOL and Sky are under scrutiny for failing to adequately protect children from downloading extreme sites.

The Church of England, which wields significant financial clout on the markets, is reviewing investments worth tens of millions, the report said.

A Church spokesman told the Mail that members of its ethical investment advisory group are considering new guidelines on porn which take into account how easy it is to access. According the story, they also criticized the apparent failure of laws introduced in 2009 to outlaw images of rape, torture and extreme sexual violence as well as bestiality and necrophilia.

The current laws state that anyone caught visiting such websites to view "violent and extreme" porn is threatened with up to five years in jail and an unlimited fine. But officials admitted they expected to see only a small number of prosecutions and no extra funding was made available for a proactive police response, the report said.