Watching porn on buses and in other public places could be made illegal in a crackdown on sordid behaviour

  • Digital minister Margot James has called for a ban on watching porn in public
  • She said train firms should block adult material from their wifi networks 
  • The government wants to block underage children from x-rated content  

Viewing pornography on buses and in other public places could be banned in a crackdown on sordid behaviour, it has emerged.

Margot James, the digital minister, said she would consider calls from MPs for watching porn on mobile phones or laptops in public to be outlawed.

In October, the Commons women and equalities committee demanded the change, saying ‘public places must be made safe for all women and girls’.

The government is considering outlawing people from viewing pornography in public under new rules to protect women and girls from inappropriate attention while on trains and buses, picture posed by a model

Margot James MP, pictured, said she was considering implementing a pornography ban in public

They said bus firms’ licences should be changed to enable the ban, while all trains should block adult material from their wi-fi networks.

Miss James suggested the Government would consider the calls during a Commons debate on Monday evening, saying they were ‘definitely worth considering’.

The minister also admitted her current plans to crack down on underage porn use by implementing an age verification process were not ‘foolproof’.

During the debate, Tory MP Vicky Ford, a member of the committee, said: ‘Public places are not age specific, and the committee also suggested that viewing online pornography in public places, such as on buses and trains, should be restricted. Do the Government intend to go further by introducing a restriction on viewing online pornography in public places?’

Miss James replied: ‘I must congratulate the women and equalities committee on its extremely valuable work in this area.

‘Although the regulations do not touch on the viewing of pornography in public places, we have heard the recommendation of the committee and what my honourable friend has just said about that problem. That might be an indirect way of making such material accessible to the very children and young people whom the regulations are designed to help.’


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Mrs Ford’s call was backed up by Tory MP Eddie Hughes, who said: ‘The potential for people to view such things inadvertently in public has increased dramatically, as has the potential for children to be exposed to it.’ Miss James replied: ‘I follow my honourable friend’s logic. That was the conclusion that Ofcom reached.

‘It is definitely worth considering the recommendation that he and my honourable friend the Member for Chelmsford [Vicky Ford] have made on reviewing the law on viewing pornography in a public place.’

Ministers are planning to bring in age verification for many porn sites, although its implementation has been repeatedly delayed and it may not now happen until Easter.

Maria Miller, the chairman of the women and equalities committee, criticised the fact that age verification will not affect a large amount of porn on the web, because social media firms will not be included. She said: ‘Parents who are listening to this debate may go away with the impression that everything on the internet will be subject to an age barrier.

‘Will the minister be clearer, for the benefit of parents who are listening, that the regulations will not include social media?

‘What is she doing to ensure that social media platforms do not inadvertently become the way that young people under the age of 15 access pornography in the future?’

Miss James replied: ‘The regulations are a very important step forward in preventing children from viewing pornography online.

‘In particular, we are closing the loophole whereby children can stumble across such material inadvertently. However, my right honourable friend is right that the regulations do not extend to social media platforms that contain pornographic content – that is a relatively small minority of the content that they provide.

‘This is not a foolproof guarantee that young people and children will not be exposed to pornography online. It is a significant step forward, but there is the potential for people to access material on social media platforms, which do not fall within the scope of the regulations unless more than a third of their average content is pornographic.’

The minister called on social media sites such as Facebook to do more to tackle nudity on its platform, including removing it from private groups. 

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