The Conservative People's Party (EKRE) is worried about how easy it is for young people to access pornographic content online as sites do not enforce age restrictions. The party proposes using the ID-card, Mobile-ID or Smart-ID for online age verification.
The explanatory memo of the bill, bearing the signature of EKRE chair Martin Helme, reads that while minors are not allowed to purchase pornographic material at stores where their age must be verified first, websites (mostly registered in other countries) make a lot of pornographic material (including extremely vulgar and violent content) freely available to minors as age restrictions are not policed in any way.
"At best, pornographic sites (such as Pornhub, Redtube etc.) ask the visitor to verify they are at least 18 years of age, while the situation where one can then access all of the pornographic content on the site by simply clicking the "yes" button in no way corresponds to the spirit of the law. Otherwise, telling the sales clerk at a liquor store you're 18 without having to produce any kind of authentication should also be sufficient," the memo goes on.
EKRE write that coming into contact with pornographic material at an early age might distort children and young people's understanding of sexual relationships and foster unhealthy decisions about sex, marital and family relationships, as well as promote degrading stereotypes about women, assist the spread of violent behavior toward women and contribute to addictive behavior.
The opposition party finds that because there is a law in Estonia to prohibit making pornographic material available to minors, the government must make an effort to enforce it. EKRE also point to measures that have been taken elsewhere in the world, giving examples from the U.S. where users need to verify their age by producing their ID to access websites in certain states. "In Estonia, a similar system could be put in place with the help of the ID-card, Mobile-ID or Smart-ID."
The party also suggests that websites that refuse to add age verification mechanisms to their sites could be inaccessible to everyone by default, while adults could access them by requesting access (by way of digital signature) from their ISP. EKRE add that such a solution was proposed in Iceland years ago.
EKRE also want fines to be put in place for making sexually explicit material available to minors and for them to be hefty enough to motivate sites to comply.
The bill was on the agenda of the Riigikogu Cultural Affairs Committee on November 14.
Editor: Marcus Turovski