Dr. Tanya Byron has rubbished media reports that her Government Review into digital entertainment recommends stricter legal penalties for UK retailers.
Early national newspaper articles printed on the morning of the Review claimed that Byron had suggested ‘retailers who sell video games to anyone under the age rating on the box should face a hefty fine or up to five years in prison' – a story which was repeated and expanded on by UK games news sites.
However, Dr. Byron told MCV that the Review contained no such recommendation, and that she was very keen to reassure retailers that were concerned by the reports.
Byron confirmed that she was satisfied with the current penalties retailers face when caught selling BBFC-rated games to underage consumers.
Byron told MCV:
That's nowhere in the Review. Nowhere. I haven't recommended any scary new legal threats to retailers. That's plain wrong. I've read that elsewhere and I'd like to be really clear about that.
The law as it stands says you can't sell games to anyone under the statutory age of a BBFC-rated product. I didn't make that up. It's the law, and retailers already know it. All that's changed is that ‘12' will now join ‘15' and ‘18' as a statutory rating.
I didn't do this to finger wag at retail. I don't do finger wagging. It's a waste of time. There was no need to act. Retail were talking about how it's important for them to be able to be really clear on what can and can't be sold to someone of a certain age.
I was never interested in wagging my finger at retail and saying: 'If you don't do it, you'll be carted off to jail.' I didn't recommend that, and I didn't mean for anyone to infer it from my recommendations.”
To read the real recommendations of the Byron Review in full, click here.
Be sure to check out this Friday's MCV magazine for our full, in-depth interview with Dr. Byron.