Too easy to access porn, says child rights activist

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Source: FMT News 

PETALING JAYA: A child rights activist has urged parents to play a bigger role in filtering their children’s search engines at home.

Voice of Children executive director Sharmila Sekaran said this was important as currently it was “too easy” for children to access pornography on the internet.

“Children are very vulnerable, they are still at an age where they are learning and forming ideas and it’s important for them to know the difference between pornography and sex in real life,” she told FMT.She said pornography came in different “degrees and levels” of sexual content and most children could not yet differentiate between these.

“Some of it can be quite ‘hardcore’. Children might think they are entitled to carry out whatever they watch on porn and this carries on into adulthood because that’s the idea they formulated when they were still children.”

Recently, technology news provider Engadget reported that the Digital Economy Bill in UK – which came into effect in May – would “force” websites hosting adult content to block those under 18 from accessing the sites.

Although most pornographic websites will ask a visitor to verify whether they are 18 years or older, this is easily bypassed.

Sharmila, instead, said parents needed to “take the reins” when it came to what their children could surf on the internet.

“Parents need to know and understand the internet and the accessibility of the internet. There are a lot of gates that the parents can put up on the internet within their home system to stop children from accessing porn.”

She said it was unfortunate, however, that some parents were either not aware of how accessible pornography was or were careless.

“They may know something but haven’t taken the next step of blocking,” she said, adding that parents should also ensure that children only accessed the internet in open places and not “alone in their bedrooms.”

Meanwhile, an information technology (IT) expert noted that the “usual” age-verification security measures on most websites was ineffective.

Accelteam Sdn Bhd project manager Digbijoy Chakraborty told FMT that today’s technology could provide for better security by requiring the visitor to create an account which requires them to upload a “proof of age certificate”.

“So it will require you to upload a picture of your passport or NRIC (National Registration Identity Card). An administrator should then look at the picture and then confirm the person’s age before the account is created. This could take within 24 or 48 hours,” he said.