MSP calls on UK government to enforce law to protect the young from online pornography

A Labour MSP has called on the UK government to enforce measures to protect young people from online pornography.

Rhoda Grant tabled a motion this month expressing “concern the UK government’s reported failure to implement Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 (the 2017 Act), aimed at protecting children from accessing harmful online materials”.

Westminster last month revealed plans to scrap its planned roll-out of part 3.

Mrs Grant’s Holyrood motion, which received the backing of Labour and SNP MSPs, notes that “a coalition of women’s organisations, headteachers, children’s charities and parliamentarians” want the government to enforce Part 3 “without further delay”.

Mrs Grant said: “How we keep our children safe online should be an absolute priority, so the failure to implement Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 is a terrible reflection on the UK government.

“Access to some of the most violent forms of illegal pornography normalises violence against women and girls at a young age, and will perpetuate the scandal of women in our society suffering abuse, violence and sexual attacks.

“The long list of those calling for the implementation should be a wake-up call that this legislation needs to be enacted and enforced immediately, and I wholeheartedly support this call to action.”

Public policy charity CARE, which worked closely with politicians at Westminster on the provisions in the Digital Economy Act, supported the motion.

Michael Veitch, parliamentary officer for CARE, said: “We are highly concerned about the potential impact, here in Scotland, of the UK government’s failure to implement Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act.

“For each day these safeguards fail to be implemented, children in Scotland continue to stumble across commercial porn sites which are full of graphic and disturbing content.

“Implementing part 3 would also see the establishment of a regulator to take strong action against sites showing extreme and violent porn. With growing concerns about ‘rape culture’ and tragic cases of sexual violence, such as that of Sarah Everard, this type of regulation couldn’t be more important.

“We are delighted that a number of MSPs, from different parties, have backed this motion and we urge the UK government to change course.”