U.K. implements a requirement for age verification on porn sites.

U.K. Implements a Requirement for Age Verification on Porn Sites

U.K. Implements a Requirement for Age Verification on Porn Sites

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
July 18 2017 2:27 PM

U.K. Implements a Requirement for Age Verification on Porn Sites

The-State-Opening-Of-Parliament-2017_1
With the Digital Economy Bill, the U.K. seeks to make changes to its technological infrastructure.*

Getty Images

The United Kingdom will officially implement an age-checking system on porn sites by next spring, Ars Technica reports. This comes as a part of the Digital Economy Act, which was passed in April 2017.

Users who want to visit porn sites will have to verify their ages by providing credit card information. Companies that do not implement these methods by April 2018 could face repercussions, like being blocked by internet service providers, paying a fine, or being denied access to payment websites like PayPal.

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The British Board of Film Classifications will play the main role in the monitoring of this requirement. To the dismay of activists and citizens, the BBFC can also force ISPs to block content it deems inappropriate or obscene, even for adult viewers.

Some are also worried that this age verification system will leave people more vulnerable because companies will have data about those using the sites.

And advocates feel that the government should be more concerned with the privacy of its citizens. Ars Technica reported that Jim Killock, a group director for the digital freedom group Open Rights, said, “the government has repeatedly refused to ensure that there is a legal duty for age verification providers to protect the privacy of Web users.”

The Digital Economy Bill was passed at the tail end of the legislative session and covered a wide range of technology-related issues. Nonporn segments of the law increase the length of prison sentences for those found guilty multiple times of copyright infringement, increase communications monitoring, add more regulations to the BBC, and other things.

Back in 2016, the Electronic Frontier Foundation addressed the bill, which was then being tabled in Parliament. The organization had many issues with the proposed age verification system, including concerns about how the law might affect other parties like advertisers and payment service providers, but its core objection had to do with consumer privacy.

“It provides only minimal additional protection for children against exposure to age-inappropriate material, but at the cost of making anonymous access to adult content impossible,” they wrote.

*Correction, July 19, 2017: This post originally and incorrectly included a photo of the French Parliament. It has been replaced with one of the British Parliament.

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