LOS ANGELES — The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection has released the following press release:
After careful study separating the facts from the rhetoric, the ASACP wishes to clarify its stance on ATVOD’s push to mandate age-verification systems for adult oriented websites.
ATVOD, the U.K.’s Authority on Television and Video On Demand, is petitioning the British government, seeking the imposition of technical measures to prevent minors from accessing age inappropriate content online. ATVOD is pursuing initiatives that restrict payment processing options for adult entertainment sites — and is moving to make age-verification systems (AVS) the law of the land.
Not content with regulating the domestic U.K. adult entertainment industry, ATVOD seeks to project its control over websites wherever they are hosted, if they are available in the U.K. — which is a move affecting countless website operators, including many of ASACP’s sponsors.
While ATVOD’s efforts may seek to make the Internet safer for children, which is the core goal of ASACP and its mission of keeping children out of and away from age inappropriate content, the association believes that the proposed age verification measures are overbroad, and do not address the most important factor in this equation — the role of the parent.
ATVOD also seeks to block a broad range of material from UK citizens that may go far further than just adult entertainment content. Just as the recent UK parental filters turned out to block content ranging from non-erotic nudity to sex education, so this new bill can be expected to be overly broad in its definition of adult entertainment content.
ASACP have always promoted the concept that adult entertainment should only be made available to adults and believe that p arental filtering technology coupled with education and parental guidance is the most effective way to protect children online today.
According to ASACP Executive Director, Tim Henning, existing resources such as ASACP’s Restricted To Adults (RTA) website meta label, which self-identifies web pages and mobile apps as containing age restricted material, greatly improve the accuracy of web filtering tools — but even this free service coupled with parental filtering technology is not a replacement for education and effective parental guidance.
“ASACP has a long history of encouraging proactive industrial self-regulation for adult sites, through tools such as RTA, along with the association’s Best Practices and Code of Ethics,” Henning states. “These efforts allow publishers and parents to work together to protect at-risk youth from age-restricted materials — but do not infringe on the privacy and rights of adults.”
Finding a balance between efficacy in child protection and the preservation of an adults’ right to view websites of his or her choosing will be difficult, and will take more than technology.
“No technical solution currently exists that is 100 percent effective, especially if attempting to block older, tech-savvy teens, who are actively seeking sexually explicit material,” Henning added. “It all comes down to effective parenting and providing parents the education and tools needed, rather than technological placebos, as being the only truly effective method to address the problem of minors’ accessing age inappropriate content.”
With this in mind, ASACP cannot support ATVOD’s call for mandatory age verification, but continues to work with all stakeholders to develop a workable solution that protects the needs and interests of children, their parents and guardians as well as adult consumers and publishers of legal erotica, alike.
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