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Ofcom Should Have Powers To Regulate Consent In Porn


Noa Hoffman

April 27, 2022.


The chair of the home affairs committee has called for the Online Safety Bill to include new powers for media regulator Ofcom to investigate whether adult entertainers have properly consented to appear in pornographic films.


Diana Johnson, who also chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Commercial Sexual Exploitation (APPGCSE), said she wants to see Ofcom be more proactive in investigating issues around consent in the online pornography industry, rather than “wait for complaints to be made”.


The MP’s statement comes as the Online Safety Bill has entered committee stage in the Commons.


The landmark legislation was introduced by government to make Britain the “safest place in the world to go online” according to Culture secretary Nadine Dorries.


Since its inception the bill has developed considerably. Under its provisions, social media platforms will now be responsible for proactively cracking down on instances of revenge porn, serious and harmful misinformation, fraud and the sale of illicit drugs from social media platforms, or risk being fined 10% of their global turnover.


Following campaigning from children’s charities and the APPGCSE the bill also now stipulates that commercial pornography websites must implement age verification checks to ensure all its users are aged 18 and over.


However, Johnson told PoliticsHome that the legislation does not go far enough on the matter of protecting women’s bodies from sexual exploitation.


The Labour MP wants government to crack down on ensuring adult entertainers are of age and have properly consented to appear in online videos.


“We've heard evidence where people who have previously been in the pornography industry have questioned really whether they were able to give consent,” Johnson said. “There is also an issue about what happens if someone decides to withdraw their consent,” she added.


“Does the website have a duty to take down any material that’s on there if a person says ‘I withdraw my consent from this’?”


While Johnson’s views are shared by multiple MPs across the Commons, some sex workers have refuted the suggestion that Ofcom should be charged with monitoring consent in the pornography industry.


Jason Domino, an adult performer and representative with the United Sex Workers union, believes trade unions should be responsible for overseeing consent in the industry.


“Why are the voices of the trade union of sex workers not involved in this policy currently?” Domino told PoliticsHome.


“Ofcom has no experience at this point of dealing with this topic, and there are many politicians who also have no experience at all, particularly when it comes to matters of people's privacy.”


Domino said his concern is that having a government regulator investigate consent in adult entertainment would require performers to reveal details that they wish to keep hidden for their own protection or privacy reasons.


“This is why it is important that it is the trade union who shapes the paperwork and decides what approaches are taken,” Domino said. “Everyone else should be listening and taking the lead from union work.”



© Noa Hoffman / PoliticsHome

Image via PoliticsHome