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Say WHAT? ATVOD claims 44k Brit primary school kids look at smut online each month

Bullsh*t klaxon sounded as it admits figures can't be trusted

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Online age verification is the Tory-led coalition government's latest obsession, after it lobbied hard for flaccid network-level filtering to be introduced by the UK's biggest ISPs over the course of the last few years.

To support Whitehall's latest crusade against smut, Britain's video on demand services regulator is calling for the law to be changed to force porno sites to demand proof of ID from sex-oglers in an effort to stop children casually flicking through skin flicks.

ATVOD produced research that it said showed the extent of the apparent problem with kids being too easily exposed to pornography online from a young age.

But the figures, the watchdog admitted, can't altogether be trusted. It alarmingly claimed in full-on, shouty mode that:

44,000 PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILDREN ACCESS PORN WEBSITES IN ONE MONTH.

The truth, though, is buried halfway down ATVOD's press release, only after it had said:

Startling evidence of children’s exposure to hardcore pornography on the internet is revealed today.

At least 44,000 primary school children accessed an adult website in one month alone – one in 35 of six- to 11-year-olds in the UK going online.

And 200,000 under-16s accessed an adult website from a computer. This is one in 16 children in that age group who went online in the same month. The research tracked the actions of children and teenagers using the internet from a desktop or laptop in December 2013.

One in five teenage boys under 18 going online were clicking on porn websites from PCs, and one adult site [Pornhub.com, in case you were curious] – which offers free, unrestricted access to thousands of hardcore porn videos – attracted 112,000 of the teenagers.

ATVOD eventually 'fessed up to the fact that the actual research data for six- to 11-year-olds - kids of a primary school age - was substandard because the sample size for those youngsters was "relatively small and figures for this age group should be treated with caution as they may exhibit large changes month to month."

The watchdog, which commissioned Nielsen Netview to carry out the work, cobbled together its figures after using tech similar to that employed to measure television audiences. It was then able to snoop on the activities of a panel of around 45,000 UK netizens. ATVOD said the data didn't rely simply on what children said they did online, but instead by quietly "tracking and recording" their movements.

The questionable research was limited to PCs, with the regulator claiming that one in 20 visits to smut sites in Blighty came from under-18s.

It claimed the figures would have been much worse if its researchers had got their mitts on fondleslab and smartphone activities.

"These findings expose the scale of the problem of child access to pornography on adult websites operated from outside the UK," said ATVOD chair Ruth Evans. "The government needs to act urgently with a range of measures to protect children from this content."

She added: "Key among them is legislation to make it possible for the UK payments industry to prevent funds flowing from this country to websites which allow children to access hardcore pornography.”

You can skewer the report for yourself here (PDF). The first footnote on page 15 is an absolute corker. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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