Denmark was the first European country to make the creation, distribution and consumption of hard-core pornography legal. Unsurprisingly, considerable effort by civil society campaigners has been required to get child protection issues for pornography taken seriously.
In December 2020 a Danish MP proposed a draft policy to ensure better digital protection of children. This covered included online pornography, but the proposal did not get enough votes.
Undeterred, campaigners from the NGO MediaHealth have now worked with researchers from Aalborg University to quantify the impact of pornography use by Danish youth. Troubling statistic litter the soon to be published research. For example, 17% of young women having experienced strangulation during sex. The study also found that 25% of boys feel they are addicted to pornography.
New tools to protect children
At the beginning of September 2021, the leaders of the government, the Social Democratic Party, appointed an MP, Birgitte Vind, to take the lead on protecting children and youth against the harms of online pornography. Potential tools being investigated include age verification and age assurance measures.
On 15 September 2021, an official and public hearing took place in the Danish Parliament to inform and enlighten members of Parliament. It focused on the effects that online pornography has on children and youth. Four experts gave presentations to MP’s, from five or six parties. They emphasised the need for policy and regulation. All MPs present fully acknowledged that this is a problem that needs to be dealt with. They gave a ‘promise’ that they would begin the process to better protect children.
This process now has the potential to begin to the development of age verification in Denmark. Other countries measures and policies will be examined .
The Danish public are beginning to pay attention to this issue. Recent efforts of campaigners have received extremely good press and media coverage.
Potential blockages to further progress include concerns around privacy issues and a general disbelief in the possibility of regulating the Internet and tech industries. The Danish tradition of Liberalism and sexual broadmindedness will also be hurdles.