Pornography: After the xHamster defeat: media supervisors hope for Cyprus

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    Porn portals should place an age verification in front of their offers to keep children and young people away. The years of warnings from media supervisors have come to nothing. But there is also hope.

    After the failed attempt to block the xHamster porn portal online, the media authorities are back to square one.

    “In terms of media law, we are now forced to start from scratch,” said Laura Braam from the NRW media agency of the German Press Agency in Düsseldorf. “We’ve already done that, contacted the Cypriot authorities again and pointed out the “new” offer.”

    Network blocks were circumvented with a simple trick

    For three years, the media supervisory authority had been taking action against porn portals such as xHamster based in Cyprus, which, contrary to youth protection regulations, made their content freely accessible to children and young people. But the network bans that the network operators finally issued against xHamster at the instigation of the media authorities at the beginning of March were immediately circumvented by the operators of the porn portal with a simple trick: they quickly changed the domain address with the abbreviation “de” for Germany to ” eng» changed.

    “The case clearly shows where the legislator is required,” says Tobias Schmid, Director of the State Media Authority of North Rhine-Westphalia. “Of course, it should be the case that content that needs to be blocked stays blocked. Everything else is ridiculous and nobody understands it either.” Schmid demanded: “If we are supposed to protect children online, it would be very helpful if we were given a functioning legal basis. Going into a gunfight with a knife is tedious. But we’re tough and of course we’ll keep at it.”

    It makes “no sense that we have to start all over again despite the identical content,” said Braam. Copyright shows that there could be another way: there, a decree automatically applies to all domains that distribute the same content.

    Media regulators have some hope again

    In the meantime, the media supervisors are drawing some hope again, because for the first time they have a legitimate contact person in Cyprus, where the operators of many of these portals are based. In the meantime, the Cypriot media supervisory authority is officially responsible for implementing the relevant EU directive for audiovisual media services for the online sector, said Braam.

    The media regulators want to oblige the porn providers to put an effective age verification in front of their offers. Proceedings are pending before the Higher Administrative Court (OVG) in Münster against several other porn providers.

    On December 1, 2021, the Düsseldorf Administrative Court had agreed with the NRW Media Authority in the first instance. The distribution of freely accessible pornographic content was rightly prohibited. According to the legislator, pornography poses a significant risk to the psychological and sexual development of children.