New rules that require users of pornography websites to verify their age will be implemented on July 15, but opponents have expressed concern about internet freedoms and privacy.
On the other side of the argument, children’s charities have long called for more to be done to protect young people from pornography online.
Here is how supporters and opponents reacted:
What do supporters say?
“We hope that the introduction of this age-verification will help in protecting children, making it harder for young people to accidentally come across online pornography, as well as bringing in the same protections that we use offline to protect children from age-restricted goods or services,” said Will Gardner, chief executive of Childnet.
“Talking to children is vital and education has a major part to play here, and we need to ensure all young people are given a platform to discuss the pressures they face online and have the skills to spot and understand the gap between perception and reality.”
The NSPCC said: “Exposure to pornography can be damaging to young people’s views about sex, body image and healthy relationships, as we regularly hear from children who contact our Childline service.
“We want to make sure that when these new rules are implemented they are as effective as possible and protect children from coming across sexually explicit content.
“To accomplish this, it is crucial the rules keep pace with the different ways that children are exposed to porn online.”
What do critics say?
“The Government needs to compel companies to enforce privacy standards,” said Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group.
“The idea that they are ‘optional’ is dangerous and irresponsible.
“Having some age verification that is good and other systems that are bad is unfair and a scammer’s paradise – of the Government’s own making.
“Data leaks could be disastrous. And they will be the Government’s own fault.
“The Government needs to shape up and legislate for privacy before their own policy results in people being outed, careers destroyed or suicides being provoked.”
Myles Jackman, a UK lawyer who specialises in obscenity law and sexual freedoms, added: “We have three months to impress the importance of data privacy and security upon the Government, or it risks having blood on its hands and an electorate who will never trust it with their data again.”