Statement from CEASE in response to the Report of the pre-legislative scrutiny Joint Committee for the Online Safety Bill

I am greatly encouraged to see so many reforms recommended by the Committee at the end of their pre-legislative scrutiny process, particularly in relation to commercial pornography. 

Where the draft Online Safety Bill lets the porn industry lurk in the shadows, the Committee’s Report pulls it directly under a regulatory spotlight.

I applaud the Committee for acknowledging the need for age verification on all pornography sites, not just the largest. This point has been central to calls made by CEASE and many other voices. 

The recommended overhaul of risk profiles to ensure that small, high risk websites are caught by the legislation could not be more applicable than to those within the online porn world. Thousands of these sites remain portals for flagrantly illegal and harmful content; it is heartening that the Committee has heard our call for reform of the draft Bill in this regard.

I welcome the Committee’s recommended transparency metrics. When compelled to report on the vast amount of content breaching their own Terms & Conditions, I sincerely hope that porn websites will be shamed into changing their verification processes to ensure that neither illegal nor harmful content finds an audience through their services. 

There is still much to be done to ensure that the pornography industry is held to account for the harm it profits from. CEASE will continue to urge the Government to adopt and extend the Committee’s recommendations in the coming months and years, to ensure that the era of self-regulation for this exploitative industry is over. 

Vanessa Morse
Chief Executive
16 December 2021