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Politics

Government acts on porn access

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THE UK will become the first country in the world to bring in age-verification for online pornography when the measures come into force on July 15, 2019.

It means that commercial providers of online pornography will be required by law to carry out robust age-verification checks on users, to ensure that they are 18 or over. The move is backed by 88% of UK parents with children aged 7-17, who agree there should be robust age-verification controls in place to stop children seeing pornography online.

Websites that fail to implement age-verification technology face having payment services withdrawn or being blocked for UK users.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the new laws. They have confirmed that they will begin enforcement on 15 July, following an implementation period to allow websites time to comply with the new standards.

UK Minister for Digital Margot James said: “Adult content is currently far too easy for children to access online. The introduction of mandatory age-verification is a world-first, and we’ve taken the time to balance privacy concerns with the need to protect children from inappropriate content. We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this.”

Government has listened carefully to privacy concerns and is clear that age-verification arrangements should only be concerned with verifying age, not identity. In addition to the requirement for all age-verification providers to comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standards, the BBFC have created a voluntary certification scheme, the Age-verification Certificate (AVC), which will assess the data security standards of AV providers. The AVC has been developed in cooperation with industry, with input from the government.

Certified age-verification solutions which offer these robust data protection conditions will be certified following an independent assessment and will carry the BBFC’s new green ‘AV’ symbol. Details will also be published on the BBFC’s age-verification website, ageverificationregulator.comso consumers can make an informed choice between age-verification providers.

BBFC Chief Executive David Austin said: “The introduction of age-verification to restrict access to commercial pornographic websites to adults is a groundbreaking child protection measure. Age-verification will help prevent children from accessing pornographic content online and means the UK is leading the way in internet safety.

“On entry into force, consumers will be able to identify that an age-verification provider has met rigorous security and data checks if they carry the BBFC’s new green ‘AV’ symbol.”

The change in the law is part of the Government’s commitment to making the UK the safest place in the world to be online, especially for children. It follows last week’s publication of the Online Harms White Paper which set out clear responsibilities for tech companies to keep UK citizens safe online, how these responsibilities should be met and what would happen if they are not.

CEO of Internet Matters Carolyn Bunting said: “We are delighted to see the government tackling the issue of online pornography. Children seeing online content for which they’re not emotionally ready can be very damaging, especially if they don’t speak out about it.

“While our research shows that parents overwhelmingly support age-verification and are confident it will make a difference, we must recognise that digital solutions aren’t the only answer and parents can’t become complacent about their child’s digital world.

“There is no substitute to having regular and honest conversations with your child about what they’re getting up to online, establishing an open dialogue about their digital life from a young age.”

Will Gardner, CEO of Childnet said: “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.

“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. We are releasing a new extended PSHE toolkit later this month to address the issue of online pornography along with related topics of body image and healthy relationships.

“We know that conversations with young people, parents and carers and teachers are paramount to giving children the information, support and skills that they need.”

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Community

Living Wage Week highlighted during Kidwelly launch

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Plaid Cymru Mid and West AM, Helen Mary Jones visited Burns Pet Food in Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire to launch Living Wage Week locally.

PPLAID CYMRU Mid and West AM, Helen Mary Jones visited Burns Pet Food in Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire to launch Living Wage Week locally.

The company is a champion of the Living Wage movement in Carmarthenshire, and the visit emphasised the importance of employers adopting the Living Wage for their workers.

Speaking at the launch Helen Mary Jones AM said:

“A big thank you to Burns Pet Food for hosting the Living Wage Celebration in west Wales. It’s very fitting that we are here today in the headquarters of this pioneering company that was established to provide a much-needed focus on nutrition, health and natural ingredients in animal food. Animal welfare is at the heart of everything for the firm. Their ethical emphasis also extends to the Burns workforce.

“The organisation is the first champion of the Living Wage Movement in Carmarthenshire; what a privilege and a responsibility that brings and one that John Burns and his staff have taken on board with energy and commitment.

“Everyone here at Burns is a passionate advocate for paying a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work and we are delighted they hosted the event to help encourage and inspire as many employers in the region as possible to take up the mantle and follow their excellent example.

“Living Wage Week is about celebrating our Living Wage Employers – thanking them for making such a difference in people’s lives. It’s also about helping our friends and colleagues in other organisations who are also in favour of fair pay and want to learn as much as possible about what it means to become accredited Living Wage Employers.”

In addition to the advocation of the Living Wage implementation across Wales, Helen Mary Jones AM congratulated the 224 Living Wage accredited employers and celebrated the achievement in a statement of opinion in the Senedd. The statement has been signed by Labour and Plaid Cymru members.

Burns Pet Food in Kidwelly kicked started the celebrations of The Living Wage Week, which runs from 11th November to 17th November 2019.

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Politics

Carmarthenshire residents urged to use their vote

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RESIDENTS in Carmarthenshire are being encouraged to use their vote in the General Election being held on December 12, 2019.

Those who are yet to register to vote have until midnight on Tuesday, November 26, to sign up or lose the opportunity to have their say in the forthcoming election.

Acting Returning Officer for Carmarthenshire, Wendy Walters, is urging everyone to exercise their democratic right.

In particular, a call is being made to young people as Electoral Commission statistics show almost a third of 18-34 year olds are not registered to vote.

Those who have recently moved house are also being reminded to register to vote at their new address, with Electoral Commission data showing that only 36 per cent of those who have moved in the last year have re-registered with their new details.

“You can’t vote unless you’re registered to do so,” she said. “It’s vitally important that everyone has the opportunity to have their say in this General Election. It is quick and easy to register, and as always our electoral services team is on hand to help anyone in need.”

Information about the General Election, details about how to register, how to apply for a postal or proxy vote, a list of Carmarthenshire polling stations, and more, can be found online at www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/generalelection2019

Further advise can be sought if needed from the Electoral Services Unit on 01267 228889.

Follow Carmarthenshire County Council on Facebook and Twitter for information updates in the run up to the election, and for results as they are announced.

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Community

Free advice drop-in on EU Settlement Scheme

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FREE advice about the UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme is being made available to EU citizens in Carmarthenshire.

A mobile team from Newfields Law, who provide a specialist immigration advisory service, will be on hand at a drop-in event in Carmarthen Library on Monday November 11 from 2pm to 5pm.

The UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme means EU citizens and their families have to apply to secure their rights to continue living and working in the UK.

Free online applications have to be made by December 31, 2020, in the event a no-deal Brexit.

If a Brexit deal is agreed, the application deadline will be extended to June 30, 2021.

At the drop-in event in Carmarthen Library on St Peter’s Street, experts from Newfields Law will advise on eligibility for settled and pre-settled status, and documents needed to support applications.

Members of the team will also be available to discuss any post-application queries people may have, including questions raised by the Home Office.

Cllr Emlyn Dole, Carmarthenshire County Council Leader, said: “Statistics show there are about 7,000 EU nationals living or working in Carmarthenshire.

“As a council, we hugely value their contribution to the county – not just economically, but for their role in boosting Carmarthenshire’s cultural diversity.

“That’s why we’d encourage all EU nationals living and working here to apply to this UK Government scheme as soon as possible to ensure their rights are protected after the UK leaves the European Union.”

Carmarthenshire County Council will also soon be providing an assisted digital service at its customer service Hwbs in Carmarthen, Llanelli and Ammanford to help EU nationals with their applications, if needed.

This service will include equipment to scan biometric documents like passports and national ID cards.

Visit www.eusswales.com for more information about the EU Settlement Scheme and details on further advice and support.

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