ATVOD Slates 'For Adults Only?' Conference

Rhett Pardon

LONDON — The Free Speech Coalition's Diane Duke and ASACP's Vince Charlton are among speakers scheduled to attend an ATVOD-hosted conference on online child protection in December.  

The London conference, titled “For Adults Only? — Protecting Children From Online Porn,” is organized by U.K. on-demand regulator ATVOD, as well as the Centre for Centre for Commercial Law Studies at Queen Mary, University of London.

Other speakers include Sue Berelowitz, deputy children’s commissioner for England; Alexandra Birtles, head of external communications at TalkTalk; John Carr of the Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety; Reg Bailey, CEO of The Mothers’ Union; Vicki Shotbolt, CEO of The Parent Zone; and Julia Long, author of "Anti-Porn: The Resurgence of Anti-Pornography Feminism."

"As the title suggests, the event has been designed to consider issues around the protection of children from adult video content online, something which has come to the fore following a number of high-profile cases over the past few months," ATVOD CEO Pete Johnson said.

"The conference is being built around two panel-led sessions. The first will consider  the nature of the problem, addressing questions such as:  What is the nature of the content? How easy is it for children to access? What is known about the scale of children’s exposure? What risks does it pose to children? The second session will consider possible solutions, addressing questions such as: Are media education and parental control software sufficient? What else is being done? What more could be done and by whom?

"By way of background, ATVOD has taken action to ensure that U.K. providers of online video services keep hardcore pornography out of reach of under-18s, but we have no power to require that similar protections are put in place with regard to services being provided online from other jurisdictions," Johnson said.

"We have recently asked  the U.K. financial industry to consider whether it may be possible to block payments to services which fail to protect children from adult material —  an initiative for which government recently expressed support —  but the issue of children accessing adult material online is multi-faceted and the aim of the conference will be to consider in the round the nature of the problem and the range of policy responses available," he said.

Duke told XBIZ that she'll be in contact with adult industry leaders and advocates in the U.K. "to make sure that I adequately represent their interests at this conference."

"Hopefully we can break through some of the hysteria and bring a reasoned voice to the discussion," she said.

Charlton, meanwhile, told XBIZ that ASACP was delighted to have been invited to participate in the ATVOD conference "and firmly believe that a continued dialogue with regulatory bodies and other stakeholders in Child Protection can only be of benefit to the Industry long term."

"High-profile meetings such as this provide us with the opportunity to attempt to sway legislative thinking from the inside in a measured and reasoned manner by giving the Industry a recognised voice to best protect their interests," Charlton said. "ASACP comes to the table solely from a child protection angle and have not veered from their core message that it should be the responsibility of parents and not governments to monitor what their children view online. Although a healthy diversity of opinion on how best to move forward is reflected in the choice of panellists. It’s important to realise that we all have the same key interest at the top of our agenda.”

The event, chaired by Channel 4 News social affairs editor Jackie Long , will be held at the  Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2, on Dec. 12 from 4 p.m.-7:30 p.m., followed by a reception.

Attendance is free but space is limited. Book your space by emailing here as soon as possible.