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France to restrict acces of minors to pornography

Nine websites that have no age verification systems have been blocked. By age 12, nearly a third have already been exposed to such contents.

FUENTES CNE.news AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus PARIS 25 DE OCTUBRE DE 2023 17:13 h
The National Assembly of France. / [link]Jarosław Baranowski[/link], Wikimedia commons.

The French National Assembly recently approved the first reading of the so called Digital Space Regulation (SREN) draft law, which covers, among other things, the fight against cyberbullying, the accessibility of pornographic sites to minors and internet scams.



Although the text had raised concerns about the protection of civil liberties, it was passed by a large majority of 360 votes to 77. It had already been unanimously approved in the Senate on 5 July.



Now, a joint committee of senators and deputies will attempt to agree on a common version of the law, expected for December.



 



Mandatory age and identity verification



The draft law aims the “protection of citizens, children and businesses", said the Minister Delegate for Digital Affairs, Jean-Noël Barrot.



It will also enable an administrative authority to block pornographic sites that do not prevent minors from accessing their content. It creates a “penalty of banishment from social media" for cyber-stalkers, including for “incitement" to commit certain offences.



Companies will have to check the age of their customers, while players will not be able to withdraw their winnings from the platform until their identity has been verified. This identity verification system also aims to fight money laundering and the financing of terrorism.



 



Nine pornographic sites blocked



Days after the passing of the draft law, the French Court of Cassation allowed the blocking of nine pornographic sites that did not require age verification of their users, overturning the decision of the court of appeal, which had rejected the request by child protection associations.



According to the court of appeal, La Voix de l'enfant (Voice of the children) and e-Enfance had “neither acted nor attempted to act” against the targeted sites, even though their owners or publishing companies are identifiable and provide an address located in the European Union.



However, the court of cassation ruled in their favor, stating that a child protection association “can ask the courts to force Internet service providers to block a pornographic site without it being required to first question the content publisher or its host".



 



2.3 million minors



Although since July 30, 2020, the law on domestic violence made it mandatory to set up an age verification system on these sites, 2.3 million internet users who consult pornographic sites are under 18, shows an Arcom study, published in May 2023.



Futhermore, by age 12, nearly a third of French young people have already been exposed to pornography, according to a Senate report published in September 2022.



“The earlier young people have access to pornography, the more they consume it and the more they adhere to violent representations of sexuality", André Altmeyer, deputy general director of the Fondation des Apprentis d'Auteuil told French catholic news website La Croix.



According to a survey of his company released this month, a large number of young people (37%) have experienced sexist or sexual violence from other young people.



Moreover, 42% of the boys and 29% of the girls say to consume porn to learn about sexuality, while about 44% have accepted a sexual relationship to please the other.



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