KRRiT effectively limits online pornography
During the "Social and developmental consequences of pornography" conference, the National Broadcasting Council presented the results of work aimed at effective protection of minors from pornographic content. The conference, organised by the Your Cause Association (Stowarzyszenie Twoja Sprawa), took place on 22 June in the Polish Sejm.
In March 2013, amendments to the Broadcasting Act came into effect which impose new obligations on entities providing on-demand audiovisual media services. In accordance with Article 47e section 1 of the Act, VoD providers are obliged to apply technical protective measures or other appropriate means to protect minors from content which would be detrimental to them.
As part of the statutory delegation, KRRiT began monitoring pornographic website providers registered in Poland or using servers located in our country, in autumn 2014. The aim of the National Broadcasting Council was to identify providers, inform them of the binding legal regulations in Poland regarding providing access to pornographic content, and encourage publishing such content along with technical measures to block underage viewers.
The monitoring covered 2,489 domains hosting pornography, 635 (25 percent) of which, upon verification, turned out to be domains with IP addresses registered in Poland or registered to a Polish company or organization with its registered office in Poland.
The contents of 193 websites were recognized as audiovisual services on demand (VoD), as defined by the Broadcasting Act, and thus subject to the regulations of the Act. The websites were published by 47 entities.
None of the 193 VoD websites investigated had effective age verification measures in place.
In accordance with the "Code of Good Practice on the Protection of Minors" signed last year by on-demand service providers, the National Broadcasting Council considers age verification through the use of credit card data or through payment upon first access (e.g. via credit card, bank transfer, etc.) to be the most effective means of protecting minors. Insofar as is technically possible, providers may also set up a so-called safe mode, which filters inappropriate content and which may be deactivated only after verifying the viewer is of appropriate age. Verification should be done through entering, for example, an alphanumeric PIN code or other equivalent solution.
In 121 cases of websites publishing pornographic content, before entering the site a window appeared informing users of the pornographic content of the site along with a request for the user's age. In the opinion of the National Broadcasting Council, providing such information and age verification does not constitute effective protection of minors from accessing content detrimental to their development.
The monitoring confirmed and documented the publishing and promotion of pornographic films by some on-demand audiovisual media services providers in such a way as to allow access by minors. The National Broadcasting Council Chairman judged that, in accordance with the Criminal Code, this could constitute a crime against sexual freedom and decency (Article 200 § 3 and § 5 of the Polish Criminal Code), and filed a report to the prosecutor's office.
At the same time, the KRRiT Chairman called upon entities subscribing to, registering, or providing technical services to the websites in question to discourage activities violating the regulations of the Broadcasting Act, i.e. publishing content detrimental to the development of minors without technical protective measures in place (Article 47c item 1).
Following the KRRiT Chairman's intervention, 39 websites ceased operations. A further inspection also indicated a significantly higher share of websites (79 percent) on which a pop-up window appeared warning users of the pornographic nature of its content. These providers were informed of the ineffectiveness of such solutions.
Those on-demand audiovisual service providers who, despite the appeal made by the KRRiT Chairman, do not introduce effective technical protective measures, in accordance with Article 53 c section 1 of the Act, shall be fined in the amount of 20 times the average monthly remuneration in this sector, including profit-sharing, for the quarter preceding issuance of the decision on the fine, as announced by the President of the Central Statistical Office in the Polish Official Gazette (Monitor Polski).
KRRiT will soon conduct further monitoring to verify activities undertaken by providers.
KRRiT conducts educational activity in the area of youth and children's protection online; it has initiated and actively participates in conferences on this topic, and cooperates with non-governmental organisations, educators, and the academic community.