UK Government Begins Independent Pornography Review

UK Government Begins Independent Pornography Review

In a significant move, the UK government has initiated a comprehensive review of pornography, seeking input from various stakeholders including law enforcers, pornography makers, parents, and the general public. The call for evidence, that launched on January 11, aims to gather insights into the impact of pornographic content on relationships, sexual behaviours, mental health, and perceptions of women and girls.

The review, led by Baroness Bertin, also delves into the effects of new technologies, particularly artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality, on the creation, accessibility, and consumption of pornography. The findings will shape the independent Pornography Review, covering the impact on sexual relationships as well as violence against women within the broader societal context.

Pornography Review

The questionnaire, which is open for responses until March 7, intends to be inclusive, welcoming the perspectives of numerous stakeholders. The aim is for the review to ‘develop recommendations for the Government to take’.

Baroness Bertin emphasised the importance of engaging directly with all stakeholders to accurately assess the public's views on existing pornography regulations. She emphasised the review's commitment to understanding the concerns of parents, law enforcement and those individuals working within the industry. She also stressed that the review aims to reestablish safeguards for society and particularly strengthen the safety of children and young people.

“This review will help us fully understand what we must now do to protect those most affected as well as future-proofing the law to keep pace with an ever-evolving pornography industry.”

The Impact of Technology

The review also aims to recognise the substantial influence of emerging technologies on the pornography industry, prompting questions around how AI and virtual reality have altered the production, accessibility, and consumption of explicit content. Acknowledging these technological advancements in the review is crucial to crafting regulations that keep pace with the ever-evolving nature of the industry.

Law Enforcement

Law enforcement and the criminal justice system are given a platform to address the challenges they face in identifying and tackling issues related to pornography as well as ‘’giving the industry an opportunity to set out what it is doing to tackle them more effectively.’’

National Police Chiefs' Council lead for Child Abuse and Investigation Ian Critchley, expressed strong support for the government-led review on pornography, emphasising the significance in addressing harmful sexual behaviours and the importance of the Online Safety Act in enhancing the safety of children and young people.

‘’. . .  this review will provide a greater evidence base allowing us to better understand the impact violent pornography is having on the behaviour of young people and adults who continue to pose the greatest risk of harm to children. It will then ensure we can work together across agencies to prevent what has become normalised behaviour which is causing some of the greatest harm often with lifelong consequences.”

Sophie Mortimer - Revenge Porn Helpline Manager said:

The Independent Review on Pornography led by Baroness Bertin is timely, coming as Ofcom are establishing their position as the regulator of online safety in the UK following the recent passing of the Online Safety Act. The Review is an opportunity for stakeholders across the sector to share knowledge and expertise on the impacts of pornography on children and adults. Once we have that foundation, we can start to assess how best to ensure that any demonstrated harms from online pornography are appropriately reduced.

The Pornography Review follows on from the Online Safety Act, part of the UK government's strategy to improve protections online. If you would like to know more about the pornography review, you can access more information here.

Pornography Review

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