Legal action may lead to France blocking porn sites by summer

A French court heard arguments on Thursday in a case that could block five pornography sites from operating in the country. The Regulatory Authority for Audiovisual and Digital Communication (ARCOM), with the backing of child protection services, has accused Pornhub, Tukif, Xvideos, Xnxx, and XHamster of not sufficiently restricting the access of minors on their sites. 

In 2020, France made it mandatory for adult sites to verify the ages of its users. After the sites failed to meet these standards, ARCOM filed suit against them that summer. The court originally assigned the case to mediation, which subsequently failed and led to the hearing last week. 

According to French media site L’informé, who reported that the hearing went on for almost three hours, the porn sites had two main arguments in the case. First, they made the argument that under a 2022 French law all computers and telephones require anti-porn software to be installed. They also claim to need more clarity on what model needs to be used to verify the user's age. 

L’Informé noted that the required software needed to be manually activated. They stated, "To be fully effective, this device requires the minor's agreement in principle if he is alone when his terminal equipment is first put into service." On the second point they explained that the National Commission for Computing and Liberties (CNIL) has worked with a third party that would allow users to be anonymous, while still making it possible to verify their age.  

This ruling is expected to set the tone for crackdowns on other sites in the future as ARCOM recently began the process to block three more porn sites for not sufficiently meeting the age verification requirements. Currently there are over four million adult sites operating in France that will be subject to the outcome of this ruling. 

The case which was opened in 2020 is expected to receive a final ruling in July.


Image: Title: ARCOM
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