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Lessons from France on the regulation of Internet pornography: How displacement effects, circumvention, and legislative scope may limit the efficacy of Article 23

Thurman, N., Nalmpatian, A. & Obster, F. (2022). Lessons from France on the regulation of Internet pornography: How displacement effects, circumvention, and legislative scope may limit the efficacy of Article 23. Policy & Internet, doi: 10.1002/poi3.293

Abstract

In 2020, the French Parliament passed an amendment that put the country at the forefront of attempts by democratic states to restrict young people's access to legal online pornography. This study examines the necessity for and potential efficacy of the amendment, Article 23, through a comparative analysis of emerging legislative and regulatory approaches in France, the UK, Canada, Utah, and Germany, and through a survey of French 15-, 16-, and 17-year-olds. Among other things, our survey shows that 41% of 15-, 16-, and 17-year-olds in France visit dedicated pornographic sites, on average monthly and often much more frequently. However, the range of media platforms via which French adolescents are exposed to pornography, their knowledge about technologies that could circumvent age verification, and the power, scope, and implementation of Article 23 may limit the legislation's efficacy. Our findings suggest the mechanisms that may limit its efficacy include media displacement, socio-technical circumvention, and the Article's relatively broad and imprecise nature. This study has implications for legislators and regulators in democratic countries beyond France as they too grapple with the challenges of regulating online pornography. Furthermore, it extends the often contradictory and/or limited evidence that exists about adolescents' consumption of pornography.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors. Policy & Internet published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Policy Studies Organization. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Publisher Keywords: adolescents, age verification, Article 23, Digital Economy Act (Part 3), Jugendmedienschutz‐Staatsvertrag (JMStV), online pornography, Online Safety Bill, VPNs
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
K Law > K Law (General)
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ101 Child Health. Child health services
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > Journalism
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