AV around the world

Australia

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner (eSafety) administers Schedules 5 and 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth) (‘BSA’) that covers prohibited content accessed through the internet, mobile phones, content services, and livestreaming. eSafety’s regulatory powers (Online Content Scheme) are underpinned by the National Classification Scheme, which aims to protect consumers, particularly children, from exposure to unsuitable or offensive material . The legislative scheme does not expressly use the term ‘pornography’, but rather refers to ‘prohibited content’ and ‘potential prohibited content’ . Under schedule 7 of the BSA, this includes content that has been, or is likely to be, classified under the National Classification Code for films as:

  • RC (refused classification): This includes films that depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified.
  • X18+: This includes films (except RC films) that contain real depictions of actual sexual activity between consenting adults in which there is no violence, sexual violence, sexualised violence, coercion, sexually assaultive language, or fetishes or depictions which purposefully demean anyone involved in that activity for the enjoyment of viewers, in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult and are unsuitable for a minor to see.
  • R18+ (where it is not subject to a restricted access system ): This includes films (except RC films and X 18+ films and R 18+ films) that are unsuitable for a minor to see.

Under the Online Content Scheme, eSafety has the power to investigate complaints and take action with regard to material found to be prohibited or potentially prohibited, depending on where the content is hosted. Where prohibited content is hosted in Australia, the eSafety Commissioner has the power to issue take-down notices . Given the scarcity of Australian-hosted content and the high levels of compliance among those operating in Australia, only 12 take-down notices have been issued to Australian content hosts, and that was in the 2015-16 financial year . Where prohibited content is hosted overseas , eSafety notifies the content to the suppliers of approved device-level filters under the Family Friendly Filter scheme, so that access to the content is blocked for consumers who use these filters. eSafety also refers sufficiently serious content to law enforcement for investigation . However, eSafety lacks the authority to issue notices to overseas content hosts unless the content falls within one of our other statutory schemes, such as image-based abuse or abhorrent violent material . The Office prioritises complaints under the scheme that concern child sexual abuse material that is hosted overseas. Despite the jurisdictional limitations, eSafety is able to facilitate swift removal of this material through our membership with the International Association of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE).

Work is underway to modernise Australia’s existing online safety legislation and the Government is currently considering reforms in a new Online Safety Act.

The sale of age restricted products, such as knives and alcohol are regulated by both federal and state/territory laws. Most jurisdictions require an Australian government authorised form of 18+ identification to be provided by an individual at point of purchase in stores, and at the delivery address if bought online.

Age verification requirements often reside with the online sales provider, using relatively weak age gating requirements such as entering a valid date of birth into an age calculating tool at the point of purchase.

In relation to online wagering and gambling, the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing Act 2006 requires licensed wagering operators to verify the identity of every customer who opens a wagering account. This means wagering operators need to verify customers full legal name, date of birth and current residential address within 14 days of depositing funds. This verification process relies upon the wagering operator collecting and disclosing identification details to a range of electronic verification services (E-IDV), who match these details against records held in various government and non-government databases. Many of the Australian wagering operators are currently using services that utilise multi- and hybrid verification processes that utilise document scanning, biometric capture, document upload, manual data entries, fraud detection and data matching to verify identities so as to meet legislative requirements globally. Additionally, the National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering (the National Framework) was developed by the Commonwealth and State and Territory governments to provide ‘a set of standard minimum protections for online gamblers, which must be adhered to by all online wagering providers’ . This included the introduction of a 14-day customer verification period (an alteration from the previous 90-day period), preventing a customer from being their winnings until their age had been verified.

There is no single overarching statute regulating online wagering or online gambling activities in Australia – regulation is maintained at both the State/Territory and Federal level. As such, there are eight independent gambling authorities responsible for licensing and compliance at the State/Territory level. Auditing of age verification for online wagering and online gambling activity would take place at the State/Territory level – however, online wagering and online gambling is outside of the regulatory remit of eSafety Commissioner, and as such we would refer/direct you to the federal regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), for further information if required.

A recent House of Representatives Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs inquiry was undertaken looking specifically at age verification for online wagering and online pornography. On 11 December 2019, the Australian Government released an online safety legislation reform discussion paper which outlined key elements of a proposed new Online Safety Act. eSafety understands that the problem of children’s access to age inappropriate content, including pornography, is being considered through these reforms.

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Belgium

Experts are preparing the reform of the Penal Code under the authority of Minister of Justice Koen Geens (Flemish Christian Democrats). This also included a provision on the criminalisation of violent images. This would also be violent pornography, but we’re a long way from that. I am not in touch.

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Canada

There are no rules governing who can access pornography online. However, under section 171.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada, it is illegal to transmit, make available, distribute or sell sexually explicit material to a person under the age of 18 years, for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a number of offences with respect to that person.

There are no rules about needing to prove the user is 18 or above. [18 years in three provinces and 19 years old in the remainder, for the purchases of alcohol, tobacco and gambling nothing for purchasing pornography on line.

Motion M-47 was passed for legislative inquiry in 2016, examining the public health effects of the ease of access and viewing of online violent and degrading sexually explicit material on children, women and men. The report was available in June of 2017. Senator Miville-Dechêne is reviewing the possibilities of tabling a Senate public bill to enforce Age Verification.

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Denmark

Alcohol: 16/18;

Tobacco: 18;

Gambling: 16/18;

Pornography: 16 (but very weak enforcement)

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Finland

There is always a note/question before entering the online porn sites that says “Are you over 18-years of old?” If the user clicks the tick box saying “yes” he /she is able to use the online porn site.

The National Audiovisual Institute is the authority that is responsible for the age verification and that the legislation is followed. If there is a violation to the law they inform the Finnish police

Finland has rules and legislation that no child under 18 years of age are allowed to make online purchases of certain services eg. pornography, alcohol, tobacco, gambling.

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France

An independent authority (agency) ARJEL is dedicated to the regulation of online gambling. It has become the authority for both online and off-line gambling since January 2020.

obligation of the age disclamer (18 or not ?) – A new law is in process to make the disclaimer not sufficient

Now its the obligation of the parental control by default (opt-out) that has been chosen. First in cooperation with ISP, social networks, google etc , NGO and CSA (independent authority for media regulation).

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Germany

the rules are defined in the – Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors on the Internet (JMStV) – Pornography and in – Youth Protection Law (JuSchG) – Alcohol /Tobacco and – State Treaty on Gambling (Gambling).

Ths is effective with Domestic companies but not really effectivre with foreign companies

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Iceland

It is illegal to produce and or display pornography publicly in Iceland but there is a difficulty monitoring the online use. There are no Icelandic porn sites or porn magazines but Icelandic people do watch a lot of porn on the internet.

There has not been interest shown for creating regulations to restrict childrens´s access to online pornography but very recently the parliament of Iceland agreed to a parliamentary resolution about a new action plan regarding educating and prevention about sexual harrashment, sexual violence and pornography. Yes I have been a little bit in touch with some of the key people regarding some aspects of this action plan.

Alchohol is only sold in government run shops and the leagal age for consumtion and buying is 20 years old. Staff in stores are required to ask for identification if needed.

There are no existing rules about needing to prove your are 18 or above to make online purchases of pornography, it is illegal to buy pornography in Iceland for all people. We have existing rules about alcohol and tobacco, you need to be 18 or above to buy tobacco and 20 or above to buy alcohol. Gambling is illegal in Iceland.

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Ireland

There are no rules governing access to online pornography

As of now all that is required is to “confirm” you are 18 (or put in a false DOB) for alcohol, tobacco, gambling. Current government formation talks (coalition) include the possibility of a gambling regulator (and possible likely age verification in due course).

An online safety and media regulation bill (including an online safety commissioner) is going through parliament and linked to EU AVMSD Directive deadline (Sept 20).

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Italy

There are no controls for online pornography

Age limits apply for alcohol, cigarettes and gambling

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Mexico

No rules for online pornography

In line with a simple acceptance of the terms of access, so it is presumed that if you accept the terms of access you are of legal age. In a store, they have to present their identity card.

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Netherlands

Yes, Article 240a in the law: Wetboek van Strafrecht. It is not allowed to show, sell, give, make available any pictures, objects, or media that contain images of which one may know that these are harmful for minors under 16 years in any way to persons under 16 years. For television (lineair / on demand), dvd’s and cinema a rating system (Kijkwijzer) is in operation, which classifies media productions containing violence, sex, fear, drugs/alcohol, discrimination, foul language as acceible for 6, 9, 12, 14, 16 or 18 years, depending on the content. Pornography is classified as 18. The online environment (YouTube and similar video platforms) are expected to join Kijkwijzer according to ministries of law and media, though this is not effectuated yet, and also depends on new European media regulation.

In line with Dutch and European regulations, providers of video materials should prevent minors (i.e. under 18 years) from accessing harmful materials, including pornography, online providers included. In case of Dutch providers (legally operating from Dutch territory) the Dutch media authority (Commissariaat voor de Media) controls whether enough action has been taken to prevent minors from access. The Commissariaat has appointed a special committee for extreme harmful content that advises about what content is potentially harmful and what is not.

The kijkwijzer system is based on complaints from the audience. If a rule is violated an independent complaints committee will check whether the provider of video content has made the right classification. If not a penalty is given. The Commissariaat is based on regular checks and or societal signals, and then asks the committee to advise on that case.

The ministries of Law and of Media are attentive to protecting minors from harmful media, and in touch with Kijkwijzer and the Commissariaat

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New Zealand

 

Under the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993, websites based in New Zealand and providing access to New Zealanders are required to take (undefined) steps to ensure underage people do not have access to pornography. Most pornography in New Zealand is accessed from overseas websites and so, in practice, access to online pornography is effectively unregulated. One exception is that the Department of Internal Affairs runs an internet and website filtering system known as the Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System (DCEFS) to block websites that host child sexual abuse images. This system is made available voluntarily to New Zealand Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and participating ISPs cover the great majority of the New Zealand consumers. The DCEFS focuses solely on websites offering clearly illegal images of child sexual abuse, which is a serious offence for anyone in New Zealand to access.

It is an offence to sell pornography, alcohol or cigarettes to someone under 18, including online. Different laws apply to different products but work similarly for these different products, i.e. that ‘reasonable steps’ must be taken to ensure the purchaser is 18+. In practice, the rules are much less strict for online purchases than for in-person purchases. Regardless of age, it is illegal for players to gamble at any online casino based in New Zealand, however adults can legally play at online casinos based outside the country.

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Poland

Yes, VOD providers must ensure that they do not give access to pornography to a person under 18. Also, under the Polish Criminal Law, it is prohibited to distribute pornography in the way allowing a person under 15 to become familiar with pornographic materials.

Yes. VOD providers should apply technical measures. The regulator approved self-regulation under which a use of a credit card should be treated as suficient mechanism.

The regulator is allowed to check actual practice and has powers to enforce (fines).

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Spain

The 18 years old rule is the legal recommendation, but no control mechanisms are in place

Rules are clear for tobacco and alcohol: the buyer has to provide an ID and fines are important if vendors do not ask for age verification. But online there is no mechanisms to check the age besides the self-declaration of being over 18 years old.  

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Sweden

Only rules governing access, distribution etc of “child pornography”, ie documented sexual abuse of children.

Alcohol – 20 years, tobacco – 18 years, gambling – 18 years.

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Ukraine

 On the Internet,(both for erotic materials and for alcohol) – you just need to tick a box that you are 18. There is no special regulation for online.

If pornographic content appears in the media it can be removed only by court decision, not administratively.

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United Kingdom

The UK passed the Digital Economy Act which included a requirement for age verification to access commercial pornography online.  The implementation was repeatedly delayed and abandoned in October 2019.  New Online Harms legislation is due to be published in 2021, applying a duty of care to websites with user-generated content.  This will include some but not all pornographic websites, although other provisions may be forthcoming specifically for commercial pornography.

Age Verification for online purchases of alcohol, vaping products and other age-restricted goods as well as services such as gambling is technologically well advanced, although not universally applied, with enforcement still focused on the real world.

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With thanks to The Reward Foundation which contributes information to this page.

CONTACT

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