10 Additional U.K.-based Porn Sites Broke Rules, ATVOD Says

Rhett Pardon

LONDON – Ten additional adult websites have been determined to have breached rules requiring age-verification, U.K. video-on-demand regulator ATVOD said.

The 10 websites named by ATVOD include AbsoluteCruelty.com BeltedByBeauty.com, BitchSlapped.com, CFNM.net, CMNM.net, FrankieAndFriends.com, JessicaPressley.com, TheBritishInstitution.com, TheCastingRoom.net and YoungDommes.co.uk.

Hardcore porn ranging from explicit sex to BDSM could be accessed by children on the Internet services, in breach of a statutory rule, the regulator said. Operators of the websites could face heavy fines.

“The services each broke the statutory rules in two ways. Firstly, they allowed any visitor free, unrestricted access to hardcore pornographic or BDSM video promos/trailers or still images featuring real sex in explicit detail or strong BDSM activity,” ATVOD said in a statement. “Secondly, access to the full videos was open to any visitor who paid a fee. As the services accepted payment methods – such as debit cards – which can be used by under 18s, ATVOD ruled that each service had also failed to put in place effective access controls in relation to the full videos.”

ATVOD findings bring to about 30 the number of porn operators against whom the regulator has acted over the past two years for allegedly

Pete Johnson, ATVOD’s CEO, who spoke to a standing-room audience at XBIZ EU on Monday, said that the regulator of on-demand video is “not complacent and will continue to monitor relevant services and act as required.”

ATVOD said that five services took steps to ensure that children accessing the websites could not normally view explicit hardcore or BDSM material; one service -- JessicaPressley.com – has been referred to Ofcom for consideration of a sanction; control over the remaining four services was claimed to have been transferred to a Dutch company, which would put them outside ATVOD’s remit, even though they are still accessible from the U.K.

“ATVOD is investigating this claim and expects to reach a conclusion shortly,” ATVOD said. “ATVOD notes that Crown Prosecution Service guidance on the Obscene Publications Act makes clear that non-U.K. websites which offer unrestricted access to hardcore pornography and which can be accessed from the U.K. are likely to be considered to be operating in breach of U.K. law.

“Such websites offer free content as a shop window to attract subscriptions mainly paid by credit and debit card. ATVOD has therefore questioned whether it can be right for businesses which are likely to be operating illegally to draw revenues from U.K. bank and credit card accounts.”

Meanwhile, ATVOD announced that it will hold a summit with the U.K. Cards Association, the Payments Council, the British Bankers’ Association, and leading payment scheme operators on Oct. 10 to discuss how the financial industry’s response to the problem might evolve. 

Said ATVOD Chairwoman Ruth Evans: “[G]iven that many such services appear to be operating in breach of the Obscene Publications Act, can it be right that they are part-financed by payments made from U.K. bank accounts? We will be discussing this issue with the financial industry at a summit early next month and welcome the recent government statement of support for the initiative.”

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