Poll shows 76% of Brits unaware of new porn block

Online porn block

Brexit is not the only big change coming in the UK in the next two weeks which could turn the whole country upside-down. From the start of April, the Government will also begin to restrict access to online pornographic content and the impact on users will be profound.

But despite the big changes that are less than a fortnight away, a new poll by YouGov has revealed that the majority of British people are completely unaware it is happening.

What YouGov’s poll found

According to the new YouGov survey, more than three-quarters of British people have absolutely no idea that their ability to access online porn is about to be curtailed.

Just 24% of those questioned said they knew that the new porn block was on its way and due to be introduced shortly. A massive 76% said they had absolutely no idea.

Porn block survey

Of the majority that were unaware of the changes, more than half (53%) are among Britain’s most frequent porn users who admitted to watching online porn every day or most days.

This is the one group you would expect to know about the new law. 85% of those who never use porn were unaware of the changes and that is to be expected. After all, it is not going to affect them in the slightest.

But for more than half of those who use porn every day to have no inkling of the changes means that the Government have categorically failed to communicate their new regulations to the British people.

Again, this may not come as a huge surprise to those following the change since the government passed the Digital Economy Act in 2017. Its implementation has been fraught with delays and errors and the decision to appoint the British Board of Film Classification as their chief censor was viewed by many as bizarre.

But this failure means that the from the start of next month, the government will be regulating and censoring access to legal content and the majority of British people are unaware that this is happening.

Public back the principle but believe new law will fail

Given the chaotic background to the new law, it might surprise some that the YouGov poll also found that most people support the new law change.

Around two-thirds of people overall (67%) approve the changes but this figure drop to just over a quarter (28%) of those who use online porn regularly.

However, it is less surprising when you look at how YouGov phrased the question. They highlighted the fact that the new law is supposed to prevent children from accessing online porn. Few right-thinking people would oppose that principle.

Had the question explained that the new law would restrict access to online porn for everyone, was likely to lead to the censorship of legal content, posed a number of severe privacy risks, and was unlikely to stop young people accessing porn anyway, the response would likely have been very different.

Despite backing the new law, most people did seem to be aware that it was destined to fail. Just a third (34%) of respondents thought the law would stop young people accessing porn and even among those who never used porn, this number doesn’t go higher than 40%.

Why the new porn block won’t work

They are right. The new law doesn’t include social media sites like Twitter and Reddit where most young people access pornographic content anyway. It is targeted at the old-school porn sites which are very much the domain of middle-aged internet users.

It also completely ignores the existence of VPNs. By using a VPN such as ExpressVPN or IPVanish and connecting to any server outside the UK, a British-based internet user can evade the porn age filter and access whatever content they like with no restrictions whatsoever.

Quite how the government has managed to overlook the fact that the internet is a global network and national laws such as this never work is unclear. But even the Chief Executive of the BBFC, the body tasked with enforcing the new laws, has admitted it won’t work.

This is just one of a myriad of different concerns about the new law. An army of academics, internet rights groups, and online porn sites have lined up to criticize it.

Concerns range from the inevitable privacy concerns of collecting porn users personal data in a giant database, the worry that the new law hands regulatory powers over to a handful of big porn companies, and concerns that it will just push youngsters onto unsafe and unregulated sites instead.

Jim Killock, the executive director of the UK’s Open Rights Group, succinctly summed up the worries in an interview last year. He concluded quite simply that, “The policy is completely full of holes.”

David Spencer

Author: David Spencer

David is VPNCompare's News Editor. Anything going on in the privacy world and he's got his eye on it. He's also interested in unblocking sports allowing him to watch his favourite football team wherever he is in the world.

Away from writing, he enjoys reading and politics. He is currently learning Mandarin too... slowly.

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