It is clear from our analysis of the consultation responses that this is an issue which tends to polarise opinion, with strongly held views on either side. Overall, there was a roughly even split between those supporting age verification (44%) and those
not in favour (48%). Responses from individuals made up the vast majority of those which were submitted via our online questionnaire (94%). Over half of the individuals were men, the majority of whom were between 18 and 34 years old.
Crucially, however, many of the key organisations we work with in the online child protection sphere children's charities, support and advice groups, the BBFC, internet service providers, and payment service firms and credit card companies indicated
their support for the proposals, and the overriding policy goal of protecting children online.
Over a quarter (26%) of the individuals who responded indicated that they are parents or carers, and 23% of individuals said that they work with children (in the education and health sectors, working in or with churches, in voluntary roles, mentoring,
and as researchers). In both groups, a majority supported the Government's approach.
Notably, pornography providers who responded to the consultation also stated their support for the protection of children online, and (with caveats) the introduction of age verification controls to protect children from content which is not appropriate
As was set out in our consultation, the Government's preferred approach to delivering this commitment is to establish a new law, requiring age verification (AV) controls for online pornography this was the manifesto commitment, and following
consideration of the consultation responses, remains the Government's intention.
To underpin this, we will also establish a new regulatory framework, and we will ensure a proportionate approach by enabling the regulator to act in a sufficiently flexible and targeted way.
Following analysis of the responses to the consultation, Government will now take several next steps. We will:
Bring forward legislation, in the Digital Economy Bill, to establish a new law requiring age verification for commercial pornographic websites and applications containing still and moving images, and a new regulatory framework to underpin it
Continue to work with payments firms and ancillary companies to ensure that the business models and profits of companies that do not comply with the new regulations can be undermined
Maintain ongoing engagement with pornography providers, age verification providers, and other parts of the industry, to ensure that the regulatory framework is targeted and proportionate, to achieve maximum impact and to enable compliance
Continue to work on broader internet safety issues, including work led by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS), and raising awareness and resilience
The government is planning on passing the bill into law in spring 2017.