Wednesday 11 December 2019

'Minors can't have access to online pornography' - Varadkar plans for ban

Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has insisted people aged under 18 must not have access to online pornography.

Mr Varadkar's comments come in the wake of the Ana Kriegel murder case and widespread calls to review laws governing online material.

As he arrived at an EU leaders' summit in Brussels, the Taoiseach was asked if he believed people aged under 18 should have access to online porn.

"I don't think they should. If you go back to the past, when it came to pornographic magazines, it wasn't possible to sell them to under-18s," Mr Varadkar said.

"The internet has changed everything in that regard.

"Minors should not have access to pornography online.

"For adults, it's their own business - but for children it's different."

Mr Varadkar said the UK was the first country to plan anti-pornography controls on various social media platforms.

He said Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan will approach the British authorities to see how it has worked after one year in operation.

"We always have to ask ourselves two questions," the Taoiseach added.

"One, is it going to be effective? And two, could there be unintended consequences?"

Mr Varadkar also said he felt there was little need to establish a new Oireachtas committee, saying that the issue could be dealt with by the Communications Committee.


However, the age-checking laws planned in the UK - which were due to come into force on July 15 - are expected to be delayed a second time.

They will demand porn sites to carry out "robust age verification checks on users" using credit cards, passports or even cards bought in shops.

Sites that do not obey the law would have payment services stopped or be blocked for UK internet users.

However, it has been reported there will be another delay.

The regulations were meant to have come into force in April last year.

Campaigners raised fears users' privacy could be affected.

Jim Killock, of the UK Open Rights Group, tweeted: "#ageverification dangers are obvious, from outing people to ruining careers and even suicides.

"What porn you watch can be very sensitive information."

The Taoiseach was arriving at a summit tasked with picking replacements for four key jobs, including that of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

He said he thought it would take another meeting to unblock that issue.


Mr Varadkar also said leaders of the European People's Party, to which Fine Gael is allied, expressed continuing solidarity with Ireland over Brexit.

He said the UK's change of prime minister does not mean the Withdrawal Agreement concluded by Theresa May can be reopened.

The Taoiseach said the idea of extending Brexit beyond the October 31 deadline would face considerable hostility among other EU governments.

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