Ofcoms warns adult video sharing websites that are stupid enough to be based in Britain that it will soon be enforcing age/identity verification
||15th January 2023 |
See press release from ofcom.org.uk
One of our priorities for the second year of the video-sharing platform (VSP) regime is to promote the implementation of robust age assurance, so that children are protected from the most harmful content. In October 2022, we published our report on the
first year of VSP regulation . The report highlighted that many platforms that specialise in videos containing pornographic material (or "adult VSPs") do not appear to have measures that are robust enough to stop children accessing pornographic
Today Ofcom is opening an enforcement programme into age assurance measures across the adult VSP sector.
Our objectives for this programme are:
to assess the age assurance measures implemented by notified adult VSPs, to ensure they are sufficiently robust to prevent under-18s from accessing videos containing pornographic material;
whether there are other platforms in the adult VSP sector that may fall in scope of the VSP regime but:
have not yet notified their service to Ofcom, as required under the VSP framework (see more below); and
may not have appropriate measures in place to protect under-18s from pornographic content; and
to understand from providers of adult VSP services the challenges they have faced when considering implementing any age assurance measures. This will also help us build a picture of what measures work and are proportionate to
expect from different VSPs, in line with our strategic priority of driving forward the implementation of robust age assurance.
The programme will seek to determine the scale of any compliance concerns in respect of notified and non-notified adult VSPs. We will then decide whether any further action (including enforcement) is needed, and how best to address
UK's internet censor threatens that the few adult video sharing websites that are stupid enough to be based in Britain should introduce onerous age verification
||21st October 2022 |
See press release from ofcom.org.uk
UK adult sites not doing enough to protect children
Smaller adult video-sharing sites based in the UK do not have sufficiently robust access control measures in place to stop children accessing pornography, Ofcom has found in a
Ahead of our future duties in the Online Safety Bill, Ofcom already has some powers to regulate video-sharing platforms (VSPs) established in the UK, which are required by law to take measures to protect people using
their sites and apps from harmful videos.
Nineteen companies have notified us that they fall within our jurisdiction. They include TikTok, Snapchat, Twitch, Vimeo, OnlyFans and BitChute; as well as several smaller platforms,
including adult sites.
Ofcom is concerned that smaller UK-based adult sites do not have robust measures in place to prevent children accessing pornography. They all have age verification measures in place when users sign up to
post content. However, users can generally access adult content just by self-declaring that they are over 18.
One smaller adult platform told us that it had considered implementing age verification, but had decided not to as it
would reduce the profitability of the business.
However, the largest UK-based site with adult content, OnlyFans, has responded to regulation by adopting age verification for all new UK subscribers, using third-party tools provided
by Yoti and Ondato.
According to new research we have published today, most people (81%) do not mind proving their age online in general, with a majority (78%) expecting to have to do so for certain online activities. A similar
proportion (80%) feel internet users should be required to verify their age when accessing pornography online, especially on dedicated adult sites.
Over the next year, adult sites that we already regulate must have in place a
clear roadmap to implementing robust age verification measures. If they don't, they could face enforcement action. Under future online safety laws, Ofcom will have broader powers to ensure that many more services are protecting children from adult
content. Some progress protecting users, but more to be done
We have seen some companies make positive changes more broadly to protect users from harmful content online, including as a direct result of being regulated under the
existing laws. For example:
TikTok now categorises content that may be unsuitable for younger users, to prevent them from viewing it. It has also established an Online Safety Oversight Committee, which provides
executive oversight of content and safety compliance specifically within the UK and EU.
Snapchat recently launched a parental control feature, Family Center, which allows parents and guardians to view a list of their child's
conversations without seeing the content of the message.
Vimeo now allows only material rated all audiences to be visible to users without an account. Content rated mature or unrated is now automatically put behind the login
BitChute has updated its terms and conditions and increased the number of people overseeing and -- if necessary -- removing content.
However, it is clear that many platforms are not
sufficiently equipped, prepared and resourced for regulation. We have recently opened a formal investigation into one firm, Tapnet Ltd -- which operates adult site RevealMe -- in relation to its response to our information request.
We also found that companies are not prioritising risk assessments of their platforms, which we consider fundamental to proactively identifying and mitigating risks to users. This will be a requirement on all regulated services under
future online safety laws.
Over the next twelve months, we expect companies to set and enforce effective terms and conditions for their users, and quickly remove or restrict harmful content when they become aware of it. We will
review the tools provided by platforms to their users for controlling their experience, and expect them to set out clear plans for protecting children from the most harmful online content, including pornography.
The new internet censor sets outs its stall for the censorship of video sharing platforms
||24th March 2021 |
See press release from
Ofcom has published its upcoming censorship rules for video sharing platforms and invites public responses up until 2nd June 2021. For a bit of self justification for its censorship, Ofcom has commissioned a survey to find that YouTube users and the
likes are calling out for Ofcom censorship. Ofcom writes:
A third of people who use online video-sharing services have come across hateful content in the last three months, according to a new study by Ofcom.
The news comes as Ofcom
proposes new guidance for sites and apps known as 'video-sharing platforms' (VSPs), setting out
practical steps to protect users from harmful material.
VSPs are a type of online video service where users can upload and share videos with other members of the public. They allow people to engage with a wide range of content and
Under laws introduced by Parliament last year, VSPs established in the UK must take measures to protect under-18s from potentially harmful video content; and all users from videos likely to incite violence or
hatred, as well as certain types of criminal content. Ofcom's job is to enforce these rules and hold VSPs to account.
The draft guidance is designed to help these companies understand what is expected of them under the new
rules, and to explain how they might meet their obligations in relation to protecting users from harm.
Harmful experiences uncovered
To inform our approach, Ofcom has researched how people in the UK
use VSPs, and their claimed exposure to potentially harmful content. Our major findings are:
Hate speech. A third of users (32%) say they have witnessed or experienced hateful content. Hateful content was most often directed towards a racial group (59%), followed by religious groups (28%), transgender people (25%)
and those of a particular sexual orientation (23%).
Bullying, abuse and violence. A quarter (26%) of users claim to have been exposed to bullying, abusive behaviour and threats, and the same proportion came across
violent or disturbing content.
Racist content. One in five users (21%) say they witnessed or experienced racist content, with levels of exposure higher among users from minority ethnic backgrounds (40%), compared to
users from a white background (19%).
Most users encounter potentially harmful videos of some sort. Most VSP users (70%) say they have been exposed to a potentially harmful experience in the last three months,
rising to 79% among 13-17 year-olds.
Low awareness of safety measures. Six in 10 VSP users are unaware of platforms' safety and protection measures, while only a quarter have ever flagged or reported harmful content.
Guidance for protecting users
As Ofcom begins its new role regulating video-sharing platforms, we recognise that the online world is different to other regulated sectors. Reflecting the nature of
video-sharing platforms, the new laws in this area focus on measures providers must consider taking to protect their users -- and they afford companies flexibility in how they do that.
The massive volume of online content means it
is impossible to prevent every instance of harm. Instead, we expect VSPs to take active measures against harmful material on their platforms. Ofcom's new guidance is designed to assist them in making judgements about how best to protect their users. In
line with the legislation, our guidance proposes that all video-sharing platforms should provide:
Clear rules around uploading content. VSPs should have clear, visible terms and conditions which prohibit users from uploading the types of harmful content set out in law. These should be enforced effectively.
Easy flagging and complaints for users. Companies should implement tools that allow users to quickly and effectively report or flag harmful videos, signpost how quickly they will respond, and be open about any action taken.
Providers should offer a route for users to formally raise issues or concerns with the platform, and to challenge decisions through dispute resolution. This is vital to protect the rights and interests of users who upload and share content.
Restricting access to adult sites. VSPs with a high prevalence of pornographic material should put in place effective age-verification systems to restrict under-18s' access to these sites and apps.
Enforcing the rules
Ofcom's approach to enforcing the new rules will build on our track record of protecting audiences from harm, while upholding freedom of expression. We will consider the unique
characteristics of user-generated video content, alongside the rights and interests of users and service providers, and the general public interest.
If we find a VSP provider has breached its obligations to take appropriate
measures to protect users, we have the power to investigate and take action against a platform. This could include fines, requiring the provider to take specific action, or -- in the most serious cases -- suspending or restricting the service.Consistent
with our general approach to enforcement, we may, where appropriate, seek to resolve or investigate issues informally first, before taking any formal enforcement action.
We are inviting
all interested parties to comment on our proposed draft guidance, particularly services which may fall within scope of the regulation, the wider industry and third-sector bodies. The deadline for responses is 2 June 2021. Subject to feedback, we plan to
issue our final guidance later this year. We will also report annually on the steps taken by VSPs to comply with their duties to protect users.
Ofcom has been given new powers to regulate
UK-established VSPs. VSP regulation sets out to protect users of VSP services from specific types of harmful material in videos. Harmful material falls into two broad categories under the VSP Framework, which are defined as:
Restricted Material , which refers to videos which have or would be likely to be given an R18 certificate, or which have been or would likely be refused a certificate. It also includes other material that might impair the
physical, mental or moral development of under-18s.
Relevant Harmful Material , which refers to any material likely to incite violence or hatred against a group of persons or a member of a group of persons based on
particular grounds. It also refers to material the inclusion of which would be a criminal offence under laws relating to terrorism; child sexual abuse material; and racism and xenophobia.
The Communications Act sets out the criteria for determining jurisdiction of VSPs, which are closely modelled on the provisions of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive. A VSP will be within UK jurisdiction if it has the required
connection with the UK. It is for service providers to assess whether a service meets the criteria and notify to Ofcom that they fall within scope of the regulation. We recently
published guidance about the criteria to assist them in making this assessment. In December 2020,
the Government confirmed its intention to appoint Ofcom as the regulator of the
future online harms regime . It re-stated its intention for the VSP Framework to be superseded by the regulatory framework in new Online Safety legislation.
If anyone is stupid enough to base a video sharing internet service in the UK, then you will have to sign up for censorship by Ofcom before 6th May 2021. After a year you will have to pay for the privilege too
||10th March 2021 |
See statement from ofcom.org.uk
See censorship rules for video sharing platforms from ofcom.org.uk
guidance for those having to sign up for censorship from ofcom.org.uk
Ofcom has published guidance to help providers self-assess whether they need to notify to Ofcom as UK-established video-sharing platforms.
Video-sharing platforms (VSPs) are a type of online video service which allow users to
upload and share videos with the public.
Under the new VSP regulations , there are specific legal criteria which determine whether a service meets the definition of a VSP, and whether it falls within UK jurisdiction. Platforms
must self-assess whether they meet these criteria, and those that do will be formally required to notify to Ofcom between 6 April and 6 May 2021. Following consultation, we have today published our final guidance to help service providers to make this
|21st February 2016
Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire. By Jerry Barnett
See article from sexandcensorship.org
Ofcom solicits 'concerns' of VoD viewers
||8th February 2016 |
See press release from
Ofcom regulates on-demand programme services (ODPS) that are notified and based in the UK, to ensure that providers apply the relevant standards. Ofcom also has a duty to advise the Government on the need for protection of consumers and citizens in their
consumption of audio-visual services, and in particular the need to protect children.
Ofcom seeks to understand people's use of, and concerns about, notified ODPS in the broader context of all on-demand and online audio-visual
services in the UK, and has therefore carried out quantitative consumer research for this purpose. A
. Comparisons are made to the 2014 data throughout this report where relevant.
This survey covers the
full range of audio-visual content that is available on demand and online: sourced either directly via the internet, via an app, or via a provider of a service; for example, programmes on BBC iPlayer, clips on YouTube and films provided by ondemand
services from Netflix.
In this report we examine online and on-demand consumption of audio-visual content among adults and teens, and their concerns regarding that content.
The report adds about viewer 'concerns'
The top mentions in 2015 among all concerned adults include: violence (50%), welfare of children/young people (32%), bullying/victimising (31%), racism (30%), discrimination (29%), bad language (28%) and pornography
(24%). Concerns regarding violence, bullying and racism have significantly increased among adults since 2014, while concerns regarding sexually explicit content have decreased.